EU told to tackle causes, not consequences, of migration: African Union’s president

EPA/PATRICK SEEGER

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, delivers his speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 16 May 2017.

EU told to tackle causes, not consequences, of migration: African Union’s president


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“The issue of migration cannot be solved just by dealing with the consequences rather than addressing the causes”, African Union Commission’s President Moussa Faki Mahamat told today EU lawmakers.

“It is a deeper problem… by sending people away, building camps, building barriers, we will never solve these problems,” he said in the EU Parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg.

Earlier, had met EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who confirmed that Europe is changing its attitude towards Africa after the massive increases in migration in the past few years.

Faki Mahamat , the first chair of the African Union Commission to address the Parliament, stressed that armed conflicts, the fight against terrorism, but also climate change, drought, famine and human rights violations on the African continent are challenges that Africa and Europe must solve together, side-by-side.

“I do not advocate building walls as protection from each other but socialising and communicating with each other,” said Chad’s former Foreign Minister.

Earlier this month, the EU proposed a reinforced partnership with Africa on peace and security, and job creation for youth in the two continents. The fifth EU-Africa Summit will take place in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in November 2017, with youth as the key theme. The summit will be a critical opportunity for African and European leaders to reshape and deepen their relationship.

Many millions of young Africans remain frustrated at the unemployment and the high levels of poverty they continue to endure.

First they must cross the Sahara desert and then the Mediterranean Sea in unreliable and overcrowded vehicles and boats.

“We are moving from the traditional, purely aid centred approach to Africa, to a real partnership, this is the best way to manage migration, this is also the best way of preventing radicalization and facing the challenges, but also getting the opportunities that the African continent offers to its young population,” Mogherini said.

Moussa Faki Mahamat echoed Mogherini, saying both continents must now tackle the causes of migration.

The Mediterranean is rapidly becoming a giant liquid graveyard. This year alone over thirteen hundred refugees and other migrants have drowned trying to reach Europe.

Last month the UK’s former ambassador to Libya, where most migrants set sail for Europe, warned that as many as a million African migrants are on their way to Europe.

Quoted in the Guardian newspaper, Joe Walker-Cousins said: “My informants in the area tell me there are potentially one million migrants, if not more, already coming up through the pipeline from central Africa and the Horn of Africa.”

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says more than 45,000 people have reached Italy by boat from North Africa, an increase of over 40 percent on the same period of 2016. More than 1,200 are said to have died on the way.

Italy’s coast guard said rescuers saved 484 migrants in the sea on Saturday and found the bodies of seven men who had died trying to get to Europe.

Italy and Germany have asked the EU for a mission to be sent to Libya’s southern border which many people cross on their way north. The countries’ interior ministers, Marco Minniti and Thomas de Maziere, sent a joint letter on Friday to the EU seeking a greater EU commitment to help stabilise the 5,000-kilometre frontier which Libya has long struggled to control.

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