Update to Joint Operation Hermes 2011


Warsaw, March 11—In its Declaration after the extraordinary session that took place today in Brussels the European Council announced:

“The Member States most directly concerned by migratory movements require our concrete solidarity. The EU and the Member States stand ready to provide the necessary support as the situation evolves.

The EU, in particular through the Frontex Hermes 2011 operation, will continue to closely monitor the impact of events on migratory movements both within and from the region. In particular, Member States are urged to provide further human and technical resources to Frontex, as required. The Commission is invited to make additional resources available. The European Council calls for rapid agreement to be reached on the regulation enhancing the agency's capabilities.”

The President of the European Commission José Manuel Durão Barroso stated during a press conference: “Frontex is developing contingency planning to handle a possible large influx of migrants. We are ready to mobilise additional funds, including for air and maritime assets. I have made the point that we need a true spirit of solidarity and burden sharing on this issue. I am happy to see that the European Council endorsed this approach of solidarity among Member States because some of them will probably be more affected.”

After 19 operational days, Joint Operation (JO) Hermes has recorded the arrival of 3,139 irregular migrants in the Pelagic islands south of Sicily.

As of 9 am on March 11, 1,015 migrants were recorded at the reception centre on the island of Lampedusa and local police authorities planned to transfer the same day 250 people to centres in mainland (Bari, Crotone, Foggia, Caltanissetta and Agrigento).

Specialist screening and debriefing experts from six Member States/Schengen-Associated Countries (SACs) have been assisting the Italian authorities with the processing of irregular migrants since the operation was launched on February 20. Under the provisions of Joint Operation (JO) Hermes 2011, Frontex has deployed 20 expert personnel to immigrant detention centres in Crotone in Calabria, Caltanissetta and Trapani in Sicily, and Bari in Puglia. These interviewing activities have confirmed that the vast majority of irregular migrants that have arrived to date have been Tunisian, mostly young adult males. Approximately 20% of them have indicated an intention to apply for international protection.

A total of 14 Member States (including Italy) have committed resources, in the form of either personnel or technical equipment, for deployment in JO Hermes 2011, of which 8 Member States are currently active.

Meanwhile, Frontex’s Risk Analysis Unit continues to monitor the situation in North Africa and beyond, and to develop a range of possible scenarios. The Joint Operations Unit continues to work on possible responses depending on how the migratory situation develops in the Southern Mediterranean.

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