The EU has responded to the migration crisis by adopting a range of measures to deal with this mass movement of people. These have included engaging with countries of origin and transit to address the root causes of migration including through the Migration Partnership Framework; agreeing a plan to relocate migrants from Italy and Greece across the Union; the launching of an EU Naval Force, Operation Sophia, to disrupt people smuggling in the Mediterranean; and substantial financial assistance to countries hosting large numbers of migrants. EU Heads of State and Government concluded a landmark migration deal with Turkey in March 2016, which has resulted in a very substantial reduction in the number of migrants risking their lives at sea to enter the EU from Turkey. These measures are bearing fruit and the numbers of migrants risking their lives is down significantly on last year.
Most migrants to Europe originate in Africa and the EU Trust Fund for Africa, established in 2015, is tackling the root causes of instability, forced displacement and irregular migration. Almost €3.2 billion has been pledged by donors to the Fund for the period 2016 to 2020, with the Irish Government making a commitment of €6 million. The EU is also supporting the Turkey Refugee Facility, a response to the almost 3 million refugees being hosted in that country. €3 billion has been committed to the Facility by the EU for the period 2016 to 2019, with Ireland providing €22.9 m. The Irish Navy has also been deployed in the Mediterranean and has to date rescued over 17,500 people.
Last month, the EU and African Union held a Summit meeting at which they agreed to enhance cooperation on migration. They announced the creation of a joint African Union, EU and UN Task Force specifically focused on reversing the humanitarian emergency. The objectives of the Task Force are to save and protect the lives of migrants and refugees along key routes and in Libya, in particular; to accelerate assisted voluntary returns to countries of origin; and the resettlement of those in need of international protection.
Ireland has been helping to alleviate the suffering of migrants and refugees. In 2016, €194 million, more than one quarter of our ODA, was directed to humanitarian needs, including support for responses to refugee influxes. This year, Ireland is providing €25 million in humanitarian assistance to alleviate the effects on civilians of the conflict in Syria, €11 million for South Sudan, €6 million for Somalia, and €4 million for Yemen.