Complementary Pathways for Migration, FCEI to Lead

"COMET” (COMplementary pathways nETwork) wins funding from the EU Commission’s Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).  A consortium of 14 organisations from 7 different member states with FCEI as project lead to work together from 2022 to 2024.

Krzysztof Hepner, unsplash

Roma (NEV), 18th June 2021 – Green light, thanks to funding from the Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) of the European Commission, for a new project piloting a network of diverse complementary pathways for migration, to be coordinated by the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI).  The initiative, named COMplementary pathways nETwork, or COMET for short, will involve 14 partners from 7 member states and is the first project of its kind at European level.

“The crux of this pilot project,” explains Giulia Gori, FCEI Project Officer, is to bring together existing practices in various EU member states – for example, humanitarian corridors in Italy; community sponsorship in the Netherlands; a pathway for unaccompanied minors.  The model fully respects and, indeed, showcases the peculiarities and historic and cultural backgrounds of the countries concerned.  It thus creates – and this is the ambitious objective which we have set ourselves, a network of diversity for a target group which is at times forgotten or invisible: not only those tragically “trapped” in Libya but also those in the neighbouring countries of the Central Mediterranean Route, such as Niger”.

In addition to this, through this project participants will be viewed through a wider lens, in terms not only of their need for international protection but also their desires, talents and links with potential host countries,” adds Fiona Kendall, another representative from the projects team.

The project will begin in a few months’ time, in January 2022 and will conclude in 2024.  The first year, in particular, will be used for meetings, training, prepration and development of a methodolgoy to be applied during the course of the triennium.

130 people will benefit from from the comprehensive reception system, of which 85 will be hosted in Italy.  Flights will be provided by Open Arms, the NGO with which FCEI has collaborated for some years through its migrant and refugee programme, Mediterranean Hope and the “Giusta Rotta” campaign.

As well as FCEI as project lead, partners participating in the project include the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), which is based in Brussels, Spanish NGO Pro-Activa Open Arms, Italian organisation Frantz Fanon, French NGO Forum Réfugiés – CosiRefugees Welcome ItaliaMosaico – Azioni per i rifugiati (also based in Italy), the German Evangelical Church of Westphalia, Belgian resarch body Migration Policy Institute Europe, Italian NGO Intersos, Fons català de cooperaciò al desenvolupament (Catalonia, Spain)Justice and Peace Netherlands, UK charity Reset Communities and Refugees, and UNHCR.

The organisations concerned, explain the project’s sponsors, will undertake in the short term to “coordinate new and existing legal migration channels for people in need of international protection; exchange best practice from diverse models, experiences and contexts; develop a structured matching process considering not only protection needs but also geographical, familial and other links, skills and integration potential; develop common tools and quality standards in respect of pre-departure orientation, reception and post-arrival support”.  In the medium term the objectives are to build capacity for host communities and deliver 130 additional European admission places for participants transiting through the Central Mediterranean Route by expansion of existing pathways and creation of new ones.  Finally, in the longer term, the aims are to monitor, evaluate, learn and share through dialogue, materials and structured exchange; and to provide a basis for continued advocacy to expand legal migration.

They go on, “the Action seeks to recognise the EU’s emerging patrimony of complementary pathways and the potential for disparate legal channels to be developed as an interlocking system rather than a patchwork. Its multilateral approach will provide a pilot blueprint for EU to which numerous countries and programmes can contribute, a system strengthened through shared resources and learning.

Whilst the need for international protection is a starting point, participants will be viewed through a wider lens which takes into account their links to family and friends, their existing knowledge, their aspirations and opportunities for social and professional inclusion.  In this way, the participants can be matched to the programme and location best adapted to maximise their potential and facilitate their integration.

The Action will facilitate enrolment in EU universities and schools, enable safe and legal family reunification, expand humanitarian admission and support new and existing community sponsorship programmes. Establishing the network will foster strong partnerships between stakeholders such as municipalities, diaspora, FBOs, NGOs and academics. Finally, it will facilitate learning and wider dissemination.”