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“Follow the Money” - A critical analysis of the use of the EU Asylum, Migration & Integration Fund (AMIF)

29 January 2018

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A study titled “Follow the Money: Assessing the use of AMIF funding at the national level” was launched last week in Brussels to examine the use made by Member States of the European Union funding known as Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) established by the European Commission (EC) for the period  2014-20.  

Produced by the pan-European NGO network - the European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) - and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the study identifies some good practices in Member States, including in Cyprus; it also unveils a number of problems and challenges relating to the actual design of the €3.1 billion AMIF as well as its implementation.

One of the problems noted in the study is that there’s a limited impact of AMIF national programmes on integration in Member States with no national strategy or defined policy approach in this area. In Cyprus, for example, whilst the need to allocate substantial AMIF funding to reception capacity within the asylum priority was acknowledged, respondents felt that the allocation to the integration priority was insufficient to meet prevailing needs.

 In addition, the EU funded integration projects in Cyprus mainly relate to language and computer classes, but there’s a lack of sufficient attention within the National Programme towards measures addressing labour market insertion, skills development and specific services for women and children.  Indeed, integration remains the weakest link of the national asylum system in Cyprus.

The integration of refugees is an important part of the commitments of States under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The Convention sets out a comprehensive bill of refugee rights and provides a framework of principles for positive response to the needs of refugees worldwide.  While, therefore, the rights of refugees are rather well-developed in international human rights and refugee law, how to ensure that these actually translate into day-to-day State practice is the challenge confronting the viability of asylum today, including in Europe. And the extent to which refugees are able to integrate into the social, economic, cultural and political fabric of the host society is inextricably linked to the rights they effectively enjoy as refugees. 

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The research was drafted by Rachel Westerby, independent researcher and writer on migration, asylum and integration, with the support of ECRE and UNHCR on the basis of a desktop review of relevant documentation and publications related to AMIF as well as questionnaire circulated widely to UNHCR and civil society representatives and follow up discussions and consultations with EC staff. 

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