The UN response to the migration crisis

According to the definition given above, the general strategy of addressing an issue may be considered a vivid manifestation of global awareness on this issue. Despite the active involvement of the European community in developing a strategic response to the Mediterranean crisis, within the UN system there has been not enough emphasis on this particular matter yet. There have only been general resolutions and measures that can be applied to the discussed issue, or those addressing solely the situation in Syria. For instance, in February 2016, the UN, together with the UK, Germany, Kuwait and Norway, co-hosted The Supporting Syria and the Region Conference, which not only contributed to promoting awareness on Syrian problem, but also provided real help for the refugees from Syria and nearby countries, pledging overall $12 billion (a record amount) – $6 billion for 2016 and the other half of the sum for 2017–2020. In March of the same year, UNHCR convened a ministeriallevel meeting aimed at promoting global responsibility-sharing through pathways for admission of Syrian asylum seekers. During the meeting, various mechanisms viz. resettlement, private sponsorship programs, special humanitarian visas, and so forth were explored. But what should be regarded as the most important outcome of the year in terms of the migration problem is the 2016 Syria Response Plan. However, many of the humanitarian measures proposed in this document are still being hindered by the ongoing violent conflict and continued disagreement among the major powers, which obstruct resolving the crisis by means of the Security Council’s mechanisms16. Further UN events of the same year had much more to do with the global dimensions of refugee crisis rather than specifically the issue of the Mediterranean. In 2017, however, there was more interest to the problem of this region within the UN: it raised alarm on migrant deaths in the basin and made efforts, particular through its Organization for Migration, to calculate the death toll effectively and coordinate the measures taken by the civil society institutions and the coast guards; in May 2017 alone, several thousand migrants were rescued. However, soon after that it was claimed by the UN agencies that there was high likelihood of the increase in the number of deaths due to shipwrecks, as smugglers were putting more and more people on boats17. It is necessary to point out that numerous challenges, which are going to be discussed in the next section, remain, and what aggravates the situation is that the general and comprehensive approach to the Mediterranean topic in particular has so far been developed in none of the resolutions of the UN bodies, except for some of the Security Council’s documents, namely Resolution 2240 (2015) and Resolution 2312 (2016), both authorizing Member States to intercept vessels suspected of being used for migrant smuggling and human trafficking off the coast of Libya18. The ECOSOC has adopted a resolution on this matter as well, namely E/RES/2015/23, devoted to the implementation of the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons; it contained several clauses related to the issue of global awareness of the problems of migration (for instance, it welcomed observation of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons on the part of various actors), but there was no word of the Mediterranean basin. To sum it up, as mentioned above, the discussed issue it still lacking a comprehensive approach of the UN, and that was reasonably claimed by representatives of different countries during the Security Council’s meetings devoted to the problem of Libyan migrants.

In conclution

For years the EU has been struggling to harmonise asylum policy. That is difficult with 28 member states, each with their own police force and judiciary.

Championing the rights of poor migrants is difficult as the economic climate is still gloomy, many Europeans are unemployed and wary of foreign workers, and EU countries are divided over how to share the refugee burden.

More detailed joint rules have been brought in with the Common European Asylum System - but rules are one thing, putting them into practice EU-wide is another challenge.

EU leaders now hope Turkey can help to reduce the number of migrants arriving in EU nations. In February the bloc approved €3bn ($3.3bn; £2.2bn) in funding for the country to help it cope with record numbers of Syrian migrants it is already hosting.

European Council President Donald Tusk says it is up to Turkey to decide how to reduce the flow to Europe, but that it could be time to turn back migrant boats trying to reach Greece.


1. ВВС

2. Syrian Crisis and Migration

3. Foreign Policy Journal


5. Global awareness of the tragedies of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean basin, with specific emphasis on Syrian asylum seekers

6. H.E. Dr. Nawaf Salam Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations

7. Irregular migration in the Mediterranean: four key principles for solving the crisis

8. Migrants in the Mediterranean


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