The Whole Truth about fighting Ilegal Immigration: Facts and Figures
Volodymyr Batchaev has published an article with the above title, demolishing many of the myths about immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees which in Ukraine are unfortunately often encouraged by the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MAI]. When you read the MIA website’s hype about their role in fighting such a threat to the country’s stability, you wonder whether the task may not prove beyond them. No need to fear, the author writes since the battle is akin to that waged by Don Quixote against a windmill. Though in the case of the MIA, the task is pretty well paid.
The following is a summary of the author’s main facts and figures which demolish standard myths.
Myth No. 1 sees hordes of foreigners posing a danger to national security and the ethnic makeup of the nation.
Facts: According to MIA figures, as of 1 October 2011 there were 209, 142 foreign nationals in Ukraine, of whom 206, 951 have the right to live in the country, with the others here temporarily. In percentage terms, this is 0.6% of the population.
87% of the overall number of immigrants are citizens of former Soviet republics, including 68% from Russia, Belarus and Moldova.
Myth No. 2 has Ukraine giving refugee status to all and sundry
Facts: 1, 091 refugees are on the MIA records. In the first 9 months of 2011 not one refugee received the right to immigrate.
Myth No. 3 is about foreigners competing with Ukrainians on the job market
Facts: In October 2011 only 4, 936 foreign nationals had work permits for Ukraine. While there may be immigrants who work illegally, the numbers cannot be high because of the general state of the economy in Ukraine and the serious liability for employers for using illegal labour. In addition, foreigners usually do jobs that Ukrainians won’t take on.
Myth No. 4 describes Ukraine as a dumping ground for illegal migrants.
Facts: This was the case at one stage, but times change and the many millions of illegal migrants supposedly hiding out in Ukraine remain popular, the author presumes, simply because they’re so unreal. The figure of 6 million 700 thousand immigrants is often mentioned, this having been mentioned by the UN Secretary back in 2007. Nobody seems to know where that estimate came from. Yet that is the figure that politicians and officials like to cite when making anxious noises in the press about the surge of illegal immigrants. The author notes that although the MIA does not confirm such figures, it is in no hurry to reject them - the stronger the enemy, the more impressive the victory against them. The author suggests a more realistic approach given the falling standard of living in Ukraine, etc.
This is borne out by official statistics. According to the State Border Guard Service, in the first 9 months of this year 18.828.993 foreign nationals entered the country. During the same period, 18.716.909 foreign nationals left, a difference of around 110 thousand. Hardly a large number especially since these are not necessary illegal immigrants.
Myth No. 5 suggests that there’ll be nowhere to hold illegal migrants. In fact according to the State Border Guard Service, their holding facilities in 2011 are only 30-50% full. The holding centres under the MIA are 29% full in the Chernihiv region and 27% full in the Volyn region.
The Accounting Chamber of Ukraine has found that the capacity of the holding facilities exceeds their need, and says that we have a situation where there are two guards for each illegal migrant.
No “rising figures”: according to MIA figures over the first 9 months of 2011 10, 922 illegal migrants were discovered, 3.3% less than for the analogous period a year ago.
Wrong ideas about where illegal migrants are from
Of the 10, 922 illegal migrants detained 9.592 or 88% are nationals of former Soviet republics who do not as a rule use Ukraine as a transit country, having other options for this.
Consequences of the Readmission Agreement
In 2010 398 illegal migrants were returned from EU countries, in the first 9 months of 2011 – 179.
Of the 10.922 people identified as illegal migrants by the police this year, only 2.8% had entered the country illegally.
Most of these were removed from the country, however in the main these were nationals of former Soviet republics. Furthermore 9.268 (or 86% of them) were not actually detained by the police. They had simply not renewed their registration in Ukraine on time leading to them having a stamp put into their passport saying they had been deported, and then officially invited to voluntarily leave Ukraine.
Only 1, 488 illegal migrants were forcibly removed, accompanied by the police. In these cases it is possible that public funding was used. Though only possible since some of them went at their own expense or at the expense of the receiving side. Once again, 87% of the number of those forced to leave, with police escort, came from former Soviet republics (Uzbekistan – 356; Russia - 263, Georgia – 140, Moldova -101.).
The author also debunks the myth about the police fighting illegal migration as organized criminal business in secretly transporting foreigners across the border.
During the first 9 months of 2011 only 354 illegal migrants forming part of groups were stopped by police, 3% of the overall total.
Immigrants supposedly leading to an increase in crime
In the first 9 months of 2011, foreign nationals committed 2.989 crimes, this being 0, 7% of the total number recorded during the period (433.586).
The author notes that the EU assumes that a large number of illegal migrants trying to enter the EU are coming from Ukraine. He says that he cannot comment since he doesn’t know how they get their information, however the 400 people detained by Ukrainian border guards during the first nine months of this year suggest that although there is a problem, the scale may be rather different.
He suggests that since European leaders believed differently, and since fighting illegal migration was one of the conditions for European integration, officials were happy to agree, especially since fairly generous funding was involved (the author lists the amounts each year).
In October 2011 further funding of 30 million EUR was announced for fighting illegal migration, including building seven temporary and two holding centres. The author is clearly bemused by the scale, especially given that the present facilities are nowhere near used to capacity.
He stresses that the assistance is needed and serves a noble cause since the EU stipulates that the money must be used to provide proper standards for treating foreign nationals.
Since the author has problems knowing how to express his doubts in the most tactful way, it would indeed seem wise for EU officials to familiarize themselves with the fairly damning audit carried out by the Accounting Chamber on measures aimed at fighting illegal migration.
In summing up he points out that two powerful state bodies (both police) are involved in fighting illegal migration, yet one sixth of the money spent is wasted, and there are 2 guards for each illegal migrant.
At some stage after receiving money from the EU, the unpleasant task of accounting for it arises. Then you have the MIA reaching for its normally instruments. Instructions fly on activating measures at fighting illegal migrants, the number of people detained increases with Russians or Moldovans being stopped for some insignificant infringement. People “from the Caucuses” are targeted throughout the country, with markets being cleared, kebab places checked. All of this helps create statistics and the impression that “illegal migration” is being combated. The fact remains that it is all fiction obtained through infringements of people’s rights.
One mustn’t turn the fight against illegal migration into a hunt for citizens of CIS countries so as to be able to proudly present to Europe hunting trophies in the form of figures supposedly demonstrating an exacerbation of the problem of illegal migration in Ukraine.
Much summarized from the article by Volodymyr Batchaev, Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors