In recent years, European governments and international organizations have developed technology to identify migratory trends and anticipate the number of third-country asylum seekers in the EU. Predictive technology to stop migration have been questioned.
In 2021, 2.3 million migrants entered the EU, a rise since the COVID-19 epidemic.
The ongoing carnage in the central Mediterranean and the increasingly frequent reports of border police violence and pushbacks in the Balkan route show European countries’ failures and migrant people’s willingness to find better living conditions in Europe.
European institutions like forecasting and risk assessment innovations. The Danish Refugee Council, IBM, and the Danish ministry of foreign affairs created the Foresight Project to foresee forced relocation globally.
The PREVIEW project, developed by the German federal foreign office, monitors present conflicts and predicts future displacement occurrences. Predicting migrant movements with great accuracy is attracting institutional investors and solution-oriented policy. The science underlying these devices isn’t always exact, and the threats to migrants’ safety aren’t entirely known.
ITFLOWS, an EU-funded project under Horizon 2020’s Secure Societies programme, is developed by a consortium of 14 members, including universities like Universidad Autonoma De Barcelona, NGOs like Oxfam Italia and the Italian Red Cross, and a private company, Terracom. It will receive up to €5m from Horizon 2020 funds.
“End-users predict the number, gender and age range of asylum seekers/non-recognised refugees entering several countries of the EU, as well as showing real-time information regarding th
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“One of the main problems in migration management is that organizations working with migrants don’t have enough information in advance to manage their arrival properly,” says Cristina Blasi Casagran, assistant professor in EU law at the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona and ITFLOWS Project Coordinator.
They don’t know, for instance, what refugees require. We offer a tool that shows arrivals by nation, gender, and age. This helps organizations to plan and offer enough support for these migrants”.
The group claims ITFLOWS uses solely open-source data. We do not use government or non-public data. Blasi Casagran says they monitor Eurostat, ACLED, and Frontex data for illicit border crossings.
The project aims to assist operators and organizations better manage arrivals, but several concerns put such operations under migrant protection and security supervision. Civil society has noticed ITFLOWS from its announcement. Access Now’s open letter lists various software concerns. First, “predictive technologies risk being repurposed for the securitisation and criminalisation of migration.”
“Concerning predictive analysis, the research conducted so far shows conflicting results,” says Derya Ozkul, signatory of the letter, senior research fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University, and author of the AFAR report on the use of new technologies in migration and asylum governance in Europe. The Foresight Project, one of the greatest, makes inaccurate forecasts. Some years were good, but the tool’s accuracy decreased with displacement shift. Thus, these instruments are not the panacea. Instead, we should focus on conflict causes and prevention.”
Risk prediction and forecasting systems’ potential for misuse is a major problem. “We want to provide technology that benefits migrants and the people who help them,” Blasi Casagran argues. Our priority. We don’t want this instrument for governments at any level.”