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Swift return of irregular migrants to help promote legal migration: European Commissioner

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson has said sending the irregular migrants back to the country of origin swiftly from the European countries will help manage migration safely together moving away from irregular to regular.

“It is important that those who arrive irregularly should be sent back swiftly to the country of origin – Bangladesh – to really show that this is not the way to come to the European countries,” she told UNB while responding to a question.
EU Ambassador to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley accompanied the European Commissioner during the interview in Dhaka on Friday.

Johansson, also a former Minister for Employment and Integration of Sweden, said the cooperation on return has really increased and deepened in recent times with immediate reaction as the member states now say they are ready to open for more labour migration and more legal pathways.

She said it is important to say that irregular migration cannot be stopped fully without making better opportunities through legal ways.

The European Commissioner said there are many things they can do together including efforts to give the right information to the people about the risk of irregular arrivals in Europe.

“My main topic for discussion for the trip is to deepen cooperation between Bangladesh and the European Union when it comes to migration. We have different areas to work out,” she said.

Johansson said Europe has an aging society and they need migration while there are many Bangladeshis who would like to go to Europe to work.
“But we need to manage this in a very orderly way to avoid irregular arrivals through dangerous routes like from Libya and Mediterranean,” she said.

The European Commissioner said the cooperation that they have been developing now is very intense and it has worked very well so far.

“So, my message is that we should continue this and we should broaden and deepen our cooperation. And that was very well received by all in Bangladesh that I talked to,” she said.

Asked about the issues she discussed with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Johansson said they discussed the migration situation, the remarkable development in Bangladesh, climate change and challenges for countries like Bangladesh and the situation in Ukraine.

“It was a very warm and good discussion with your Prime Minister. It was also a great moment to be with such a great and strong female politician,” she said, adding that “I must say it is very stimulating to talk to her.”

Asked whether the political issue was discussed, the Commissioner said, “No, we did not go into details about the internal political situation in Bangladesh.”

The Commissioner said the member states are stepping up and offering new opportunities to Bangladesh on a bilateral ground but at the EU-level they are also working to develop new opportunities.

For example, she said, they will set up a virtual hub for people to upload their areas of interest to go to Europe so that the interested people find each.

Responding to a question on human trafficking, Johansson said they have to work together including with the police for cooperation.

With the situation in Bangladesh, it is a bit more challenging because it is a long route, she said, adding that information about the risks and alternatives to go to Europe legally and information about obvious return if anyone tries to go irregularly will help people make the right decision.

“We fight this (trafficking) only we can work together. We are already doing this and deepening this cooperation,” Johansson said.

She said well-functioning swift return is a very important component and the two sides now have better cooperation. “But still it needs to improve the cooperation when it comes to return,”

She said irregular migration is a much smaller proportion and it is important to say that a huge majority is coming to Europe legally and it works well.

The European Commissioner presented the 50 year EU-Bangladesh logo to Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and attended a meeting with Dhaka Migration Forum members, under the Prottasha project funded by the EU apart from her other engagements.

She is scheduled to leave Dhaka later today (Friday) wrapping up her first-ever two-day trip to Bangladesh.