The 5th EU- Africa Summit gets under way in Abidjan, Ivory Coast this week. I don’t know what if anything summits such as this achieve, but that’s a topic for another post.
I would like to focus on Migration as one of the points for discussion between the EU and Africa heads of state at these summits.
During the 4th summit, both the European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) reaffirmed their commitment to tackle irregular migration and ensure that migration works for both continents
In November 2016, African and European heads of state met again in Valletta Malta to discuss Migration and in particular Africa – Europe migration.
An outcome of the summit was the European Agenda Migration
In addition to, the EU announced a European Trust Fund for Africa to address root causes of migration and issues of stability in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and countries close to these regions.
At the time, I expressed a degree of cynicism as to what this fund would achieve, that was because on close examination, this was not new money and it seemed to me that the EU had simply moved money from other programs, in particular development programs to create this new fund and given the size of the fund, the allocation would amount to only €1 per African.
Secondly, the incentive for African leaders to cooperate with such a provision was unclear to me. This is because, African countries earn more money in the form of Remittances by African migrants than the value of EU Trust Fund.
This last point is pertinent to the debate on Migration. Whilst the EU has been keen to throw money at the increased irregular migration levels to its shores, the AU has done little to prevent the production of migrants willing to risk everything to head to Europe.
To cite a few examples,
1. the brand new country of South Sudan has produced more than half a million Refugees that we know of and are hosted in Uganda,
2. rich African countries like Nigeria and Ghana have not put in place mechanisms that ensure the equitable sharing of the countries’ wealth and as such produce a large number of economic migrants,
3. whilst governance in Libya remains questionable since the ousting of Gaddafi and terrorist groups such as Al Shabab and Boko Haram remain active and a reason why people become displaced from their homes,
Consequently Italian towns continue to be at the receiving end of African migrants and sadly to hold funerals for Africans that die on their shores. The most recent of such funerals was for 26 Nigerian women
Human trafficking has increased and a few weeks ago a CNN report , opened our eyes to modern day slavery involving Africans selling Africans to Africans.
Notwithstanding the well documented disfunction in Libya, the EU has sought to return migrants to that country as even suggested the creation of refugee and migrant centres in that country.
This serves European leaders political agendas but as we have seen in the CNN report it is not the best outcome for refugees and migrants. And what does it say about the EU’s normative values in particular on human rights.
What will the AU do to stem this new development of Africans selling Africans to Africans?
Will the EU and the AU agree to disagree that irregular migration is a problem or will they agree that it is a problem and take genuine steps to address its root causes?