At the beginning of March, European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen spoke with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the situation of unaccompanied migrant children on the Greek islands. They agreed to put in place a process to ensure the protection and care of some of Europe’s most vulnerable people, unaccompanied migrant children. Later in March, the Commission announced a plan to relocate unaccompanied children and teenagers from Greece to other EU member states. So far, member states have pledged 1.600 places, but the going has been slow. Several relocations took place and key recommendations were established for further relocations.
This week’s news highlights: Dutch Foundation sues European Union over forced labor; Lawyers and UK organisation challenge UK funding to EU project in Eritrea; Advisory Committee urges The Netherlands to provide one billion EUR for Africa amid COVID-19; 1.600 unaccompanied minors on Greece to be relocated; Migrants and refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina threatened; Hungary illegally held asylum seekers in camps; Malta urged to join operation Irini; Italy to introduce special work permits for migrants; UNICEF steps up preparations to curb COVID-19 in Eritrea; Ruling party in Ethiopia states it will remain in power until next election; Flood and conflict threaten internally displaced people in Somalia; Number of internally displaced people in Horn of Africa drops; UN Network on Migration urges to suspend forced returns; UNHCR raises awareness for stateless people worldwide; UNHCR needs $745 million to protect displaced populations against COVID-19; Joint IGO statement on the threats in Libya; And 53% of migrants lost jobs in Tunisia due to COVID-19 lockdown
A Dutch Foundation of Eritrean refugees, Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans, has filed a lawsuit in the Amsterdam court against the European Union (EU) for its role in financing a road building project in Eritrea that uses forced labor. The Foundation, together with their Dutch Lawyer Emiel Jurjens, demand the EU stops the 80 million euro support to Eritrea. While the European Commission acknowledges that the funded project entails labour from Eritrea’s indefinite and forced national service, in direct violation of EU’s fundamental principles and international law, it deflects blame by claiming that the EU is not paying directly for labor itself but rather for the equipment. Besides the use of forced labor, the EU has no direct oversight or proper monitoring scheme to safeguard the Eritrean national conscripts forced to work on the project or ability monitor how the money is spent. The EU has already pledged 80 million and is looking to spend an additional 120 million on subsequent phases. The lawsuit enters uncharted legal territory in a complex web of jurisdiction and accountability.