Migrants and refugees
In 2016, the migrant and refugee crisis continued to be one of the biggest challenges facing Europe. From providing emergency aid to funding long-term integration, the CEB was at the forefront of support to migrants and refugees and the communities that host them across the continent.
Migrant and Refugee Fund (MRF)
The CEB provided more than € 18 million for emergency projects, in particular in Croatia, Greece, Serbia, Slovenia and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, through the Migrant and Refugee Fund, a grant-based facility established by the CEB in 2015 to help its member countries deal with migrant and refugee flows. This CEB assistance was used primarily to increase shelter capacity and improve conditions in reception centres, as well as to provide food, health care, and legal advice to migrants and refugees.
The closing of the Western Balkan route in early 2016 resulted in thousands of migrants being stranded along the way, followed by a steady resumption of arrivals later in the year. The CEB was able to adapt quickly to this changed operational context and direct funding to measures facilitating a longer stay of migrants in the transit countries, including building inter-cultural competencies for frontline public service providers. The Bank also started providing funding to public authorities dealing with increased levels of long-term migrant integration.
The CEB aims to facilitate the long-term integration of migrants and refugees on a truly comprehensive, cross-sectoral basis, encompassing access to decent housing, jobs, health and education. In 2016, the Bank invested an additional € 1 billion for projects to support long-term integration and a genuine increase in social cohesion in the host communities.
In 2016, the CEB approved a total of € 652 million in loans to help different German Federal States deal with migration pressures. The CEB funding will make an important contribution to the integration of migrants and refugees by substituting sub-standard, temporary housing with decent long-term accommodation. It will also enable the municipalities to support other vulnerable groups such as young families and the elderly, integrate migrants and avoid segregation.
In Sweden, the third largest city, Malmö, is expected to host more than 8 000 asylum seekers under the age of 15 over the next three years. In light of the important role that education plays in the successful integration of refugees, the CEB’s € 160 million loan to the city is intended to finance the refurbishment of existing compulsory education buildings and the construction of new school facilities.
Resettlement of displaced persons
More than twenty years after the war ended in the former Yugoslavia, tens of thousands of people still remain displaced throughout the region, many of them in precarious conditions and with no permanent housing. The CEB plays a major role in the Regional Housing Programme (RHP), a joint initiative endorsed by the international community that aims to resolve this protracted isplacement situation. In 2016, the RHP delivered almost 1 000 housing solutions to families in the four partner countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia.