Migration is one of the most challenging issues confronting policymakers around the world – and the data they use to help make key decisions is often difficult to analyse.
Those at the Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography, run by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Ispra in Italy, are trying to make it easier by producing in-depth data that harnesses and connects new data sources.
In this episode of Futuris, Euronews finds out how researchers are developing such data to create new opportunities.
Main sources of data collection
Mobile phones, social media and earth observation data are some of the resources used to collect data.
Researchers track anonymous digital traces on these platforms, as JRC research scientist, Michele Vespe, explained to Euronews.
“If these traces are aggregated in such a way to overcome privacy issues, ethics and data security issues, then, collectively, they can show social trends that would be unthinkable with official statistics.
“So they can complement the official statistics, increasing the timeliness of the data, because they are collected at any time, even now while we are talking, and they also give us additional perspectives,” he added.
How data can help industries
The big data collected can support decision-making in various areas, including the jobs market – providing information on the distribution of workers’ and their skills in one territory, as Sara Grubanov-Boskovic from the JRC explained to Euronews.
“We have this wide variety of data on European labour markets and we can understand what challenges the sectors are facing – shortages on the labour market, for example. This data also shows us that there are sectors in which migrants make a particular contribution in alleviating shortages. You can think of agriculture, health care – and the long-term care sector,” she said.
A study carried out during the first wave of the Covid-19 outbreak has shown that, on average, 13% of all workers employed in key sectors during the EU’s coronavirus response, were migrants.
Marie-Cecile Rouillon is a policy coordinator at the European Commission in the Department for Migration and Home Affairs. She said:
“It is key to know what skills are needed by the labour market, in a society that is demographically ageing. It is essential to have this very global vision of migration and how migration fits into a much more global and complex context from an international point of view or at the heart of our society.”
JRC scientists also carried out a multi-disciplinary exercise combining fiscal modelling with demographic projections to analyse the impact of migration on public resources, as well as the consequences on the sustainability of the European welfare systems.
Dessislava Choumelova is the head of the unit.
“For the new plan on integration, we are looking at what skills Europe needs. Are their migrants with those skills? What is the educational background that we need? How are migrants integrated? Do they have jobs? Who are they? Are they female? Are they male? And all this information comes into the integration plan,” she explained.
Bosnia: Icy struggle for many migrants stuck in freezing tents
Thousands of refugees and migrants urgently need proper shelter in Bosnia-Herzegovina after weeks outdoors in freezing cold, the UN has warned.
Some 2,500 people are in unheated tents or sleeping rough near the northern town of Bihac. A UN official says some are now being moved to heated tents.
Local authorities have refused to reopen a nearby reception centre.
Instead hundreds have been forced to return to a temporary camp that was ravaged by fire last month.
Peter Van der Auweraert of the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has tweeted photos of the basic tents erected at the Lipa camp by the Bosnian army a few days ago.
But his latest post is upbeat. Lipa is carpeted with heavy snow, he says, so the relocation of migrants to heated tents, now under way, is an “important step forward”. The new tents were brought in by the army.
The camp was set up hastily in the summer when the coronavirus pandemic forced crisis measures including border closures.
But aid agencies pulled out of the camp in December, saying it was unsustainable without water and electricity.
Some residents forced to leave the facility looted equipment and set fire to tents, police said.
However, about 900 migrants had to go back there, after local officials refused to let them move to the empty reception centre in Bihac. Another 1,500 are struggling in primitive conditions elsewhere near the town.
The migrants are from South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and got stuck in Bosnia while trying to reach Croatia, an EU member state seen as a gateway to the EU.
Some of the migrants have refused to use the tents in Lipa because they lack heating and sanitation. Some also went on hunger strike, angry at the lack of amenities.
But on Tuesday many did receive Red Cross food parcels.
“We want people in proper reception centres where they have access to services, like the 6,000 other people in Bosnia,” Mr Van der Auweraert, the IOM’s head in Bosnia-Herzegovina, told the BBC’s Balkans correspondent Guy De Launey at Lipa.
The IOM says about 8,500 non-EU migrants are living in Bosnia, still hoping to get to northern Europe.
“Here is too much cold. You know, the weather is rainy and the weather is very cold, and we can’t sleep in here,” one migrant told our correspondent.
In recent years thousands of people, including refugees from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria, have entered Bosnia hoping to get asylum in the EU.
Bosnia’s central government ordered the reopening of a reception centre in an old factory on the outskirts of Bihac, but the local authorities refused.
The city’s mayor, Suhret Fazlic, told the BBC: “We are not satisfied with approach of EU – people coming from Greece and Bulgaria want to get to Croatia, but stuck in Bihac.”
The EU has told the Bosnian authorities that they “must assume their responsibilities”. The country of 3.5m has ambitions to join the EU.
On Wednesday the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the EU had funded the still empty shelter in Bihac, but Bosnian officials had “ignored repeated appeals to provide basic and secure living conditions and humane treatment”.
His spokesman Peter Stano said “over the last two years, we provided over 90m euros (£81m; $110m) for centres, equipment, medical and social care.
“We need them to move – not play political games with people’s lives,” he complained.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55589090
Covid: Sweden official defends Christmas trip to Canary Islands
A top Swedish official involved in the coronavirus response has defended a Christmas holiday in the Canary Islands in the face of heavy criticism.
Dan Eliasson is head of the civil contingencies agency, which earlier in December had texted all Swedes urging them to avoid travel.
He was photographed in Las Palmas airport on the island of Gran Canaria.
Mr Eliasson insisted the trip was necessary “for family reasons”.
He told Swedish media that he had “given up a lot of trips during this pandemic” but thought this one was necessary because he had a daughter living in the Canaries.
“I celebrated Christmas with her and my family,” he told Expressen newspaper. He also said he had been worked remotely while in the Canaries.
Sweden has had 437,000 confirmed cases and 8,700 deaths – many more than its Scandinavian neighbours. The country has never imposed a full lockdown.
However, alarmed by rising numbers of cases last month, the Swedish government reversed some of its guidance and sent a text message to all Swedes asking them to read updated guidelines.
The guidelines included asking Swedes to avoid unnecessary trips and not to make new contacts during a journey or at the destination.
Mr Eliasson was then photographed several times in Gran Canaria, including at the airport.
There have been calls for Mr Eliasson, an experienced official who has worked at several important departments, to be fired.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and other ministers have not yet commented, according to Swedish media.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55523587
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