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Meetings Calendar 2006
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Press Releases

21.04.2006

Interior Minister Liese Prokop opens CoMMA Conference

 

"Besides the threat from organized crime and terrorism, dealing with migration movements is today one of the main challenges facing us in terms of security. In this context, the EU and Austria are confronted with a very particular challenge", said Liese Prokop on the occasion of the CoMMA Conference held in Vienna (19-21 April 2006) on the topic of Media, Migration and Asylum.

"The aim of the CoMMA Conference is to look in more detail at the connection between asylum and migration and the media, which until now has been scarcely examined. To this end, we must ask ourselves who are the key players as regards developments in the realm of migration and asylum and what their respective roles are. And we must look at how migration and asylum are reported and what are the effects of such reporting in the countries of origin, transit and destination, and what informational measures are required on the basis of the current shape of public opinion in order to positively influence developments in the field of asylum and migration and to avoid false expectations and hopes on the part of migrants," said Prokop.

Last year, 237,840 asylum applications were made in the EU states. This puts the EU top of the list worldwide – the USA and Canada jointly received 68,510 asylum applications. "In absolute figures, with over 22,000 applications, we rank fifth behind France, the USA, the UK and Germany, but ahead of Canada", explained Prokop. In relation to size of population, Austria ranks in third place after the very exposed states of Cyprus and Malta. "Figures such as these from the UNHCR make it clear why asylum and migration form one of the main focuses of the Austrian EU Presidency. We must therefore take very concrete steps to improve the collaboration between the Member States and the countries of origin and transit", Prokop said, listing the following measures:

* Launch of the long-term establishment of a database with information on the countries of origin of refugees.

* Preparation of a concrete pilot project for protecting refugees in the region – go-ahead anticipated for June 2006.

* Creation of a team of experts for reciprocal support where there are particular asylum pressures.

* Generation of a common list of safe countries of origin.

* The organization of collective flights to repatriate those who cannot be given permission to stay in Europe.

 

Developments in the field of asylum and migration are determined by a whole number of players. These include:

* the affected parties who are seeking protection/help or simply better living conditions;

* criminal organisations which do their sordid business on the backs of such people;

* NGOs, which provide support in all kinds of ways;

* the media, whose reporting has effects on the expectations of migrants and the resident population.

The CoMMA Conference is being held under the overall auspices of the Austrian Interior Ministry jointly with the Hungarian Interior Ministry, the British Home Office and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

 

Date: 21.04.2006