The European Commission unveiled its new immigration proposal before the European Parliament on June 7. The draft foresees financial support for the main African and Middle Eastern transit countries, provided they do two things: discourage migrants from seeking to make their way to Europe and to take back undocumented migrants returned from Europe.
At the same time, the media has been reporting that new groups of migrants from Africa are trying to reach Europe.
The migration route that leads from African countries to the European Union via Morocco and the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla to Spain was reportedly closed years ago.
The influx of migrants had stopped after high and threatening walls of iron were built around the Spanish territory in Africa.
But, the refugee and migration crisis that emerged in 2014 now poses a completely new situation.
There were thousands of Africans among the refugees who crossed the Mediterranean Sea, from the Libyan coasts towards Italy in 2014 and among those who crossed the Aegean Sea in 2015 from Turkey to the Greek islands.
The African groups included Somalis, Nigerians and Ghanaians among others. They had all fled critical points in Africa where starvation, terrorism, drought, political instability and diseases have made life impossible. They had crossed Africa and they tried to reach Europe through the Balkans because the easier way through Morocco and Spain was blocked and well patrolled.
But is it still so?
This year, Turkey agreed with Europe to energetically fight human smugglers by narrowly controlling its sea borders. Since then, the number of refugees and migrants arriving to the Greek islands has dropped considerably.
What is more, the EU has understood that only tough action of support the Libyan government can create the conditions to effectively fight Islamic State and block the smuggling of people to Italy.
But this has not stopped the movement of desperate migrants from some Africa’s poorest areas. And, since the entire movement of migrant populations is strictly controlled by the traffickers, the blocked passage between Morocco and Spain has became of a crucial interest.
This means human smugglers are reactivating this old and dormant route.
However, it is a positive step for MEPs to finally realise that the only way to fight migration is with strong financial support for these African countries.
It is only by creating the conditions to motivate populations to remain in their countries and struggle for a better future at home that it is possible to stop would-be migrants from embarking on dangerous paths through the African continent and the Mediterranean Sea.
Of course, it is true that financial aid will not completely solve the problem.
While the immigration proposal was welcomed by a majority of MEPs, there were some who criticised it.
Europe must be careful about where to send the financial aid. Corruption is endemic in the migrant source countries where public money is systematically stolen by politicians, army officers and state bureaucrats.
This is why it is necessary to find ways to really assist with economic development in poor African countries. And there is one more thing, in addition to financially helping African countries. Europe must become tough on security policy in order to secure our borders because human trafficking is part of organised crime networks. Migrants are smuggled together with cigarettes, arms and drugs.