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Europe/Africa: Dialogue Unlikely at Migration Summit

AfricaFocus Bulletin
November 5, 2015 (151105)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"There is no dialogue. What we are seeing from the EU is a monologue that seeks only to impose its own agenda," a high-ranking African Union official said anonymously in an interview with the Afronline newsletter. While there are strong critiques of the European position from both African and European civil society, his prediction is unlikely to be proved false when heads of state gather in Valetta, Malta next week.

Leaks of the draft agreement and action plan show that African states will be pushing for more legal migration channels to the EU, while European states are focusing on keeping people out and sending them back.

News reports with details of the drafts and background to the negotiations are available from Afronline ( and EU Observer (

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains (1) a short position paper by Oxfam stressing the legitimacy of "migration" and the need to deal with the consequences and causes of "displacement" (forced migration from multiple causes), in contrast to the common assumption that migration as such is a "problem" to be solved. (2) brief excerpts from a statement by African and European Civil Society statement on the summit, and (3) brief excerpts from a new International Organization for Migration report on Gallup Polls on attitudes towards migration around the world.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on migration issues, visit

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++

EU-Africa Cooperation on Mobility, Displacement, and Migration

Oxfam position paper for the EU-Africa Summit on Migration,

La Valletta, 11-12 November 2015

Migration: Challenges and Opportunities

Migration -- movement of people within and across borders -- is and has been a normal feature of human existence for millennia. Today, movement across borders continues for many reasons, including:

  • As part of regular mobility
  • As a coping mechanism in response to: sudden or acute events like conflict, disasters, abuses and repression, and destruction of livelihoods, or to chronic problems like climate change, inequality, and lack of economic opportunity.

Migration is often complex, and people may be on the move for many and sometimes multiple reasons. Such movement should be managed effectively for the benefit and safety of all involved, and in full respect of human rights and the specific rights of refugees; but never at the cost of stifling mobility or restricting people's access to protection from persecution or harm.

Mobility and displacement are both elements of migration -- but only displacement is a genuine problem to be "tackled."

People are on the move for many reasons, including pursuing educational or career opportunities or reuniting with family. Moreover, the impact of migration is often favourable, with net benefits for the receiving countries in the areas of labour market, taxes and social contributions, and general economic growth. Migration also has some benefits for communities in countries of origin, including remittances, which while not a replacement for aid, have been shown to contribute to poverty reduction and development. In this respect, migration is positively linked to development, rather than an issue that development helps to "solve." Many of the reasons behind migration and its effects are therefore not problems that need to be "tackled."

However, migration is also one way people may cope with genuine problems like conflict, the outcomes of inequality, and climate change. People who move in response to difficult problems can become part of complex situations for transit and receiving States, particularly when acute crises result in large and sudden movements as people flee. They may also cause difficulties for their country of origin, depriving it of future and current professionals and even possibly resulting in loss of a generation. However a focus on stopping migration to address the challenges faced by transit and receiving States distracts from addressing the real root causes of threats to well-being, peace, security, and prosperity. It is these issues that require tackling in order to improve the safety and well-being of the people affected by them, regardless of whether they are attempting to cope through migration or by any other means.

Situations causing displacement require targeted responses to their root causes as well as interventions to provide for the safety, rights and dignity of the people affected by them.

Nearly 60 million people worldwide are now displaced from their homes. There are many different causes, which can range from conflict in Syria and repression in Eritrea to climate changerelated drying in the Sahel. The EU must avoid taking a Eurocentric view of these "root causes" which are many and diverse, and which principally affect the countries of origin of migrants and their neighbours. Addressing crises and chronic problems requires strategies aimed at dealing holistically with these situations and all their impacts, including, but not only, that of people being forced to flee.

EU-Africa dialogue on displacement must first of all recognise that the large majority of those displaced in African countries remain on the continent, and even in their own country or locality. Addressing the needs and respecting the rights of these displaced people and refugees is first and foremost the responsibility of the governments who host them. However, African and European leaders must work together to support durable solutions for people who have fled their homes, and while many African countries are host to the greatest numbers of refugees and internally displaced people, the EU must provide a fair share of support to meet their needs.

Development goes hand-in-hand with mobility.

Development is not a "solution" to the "problem" of migration. In the first place, migration as a whole is not a problem in and of itself; secondly, evidence suggests that increasing human development in less developed countries is generally associated with higher, rather than lower, levels of mobility -- both emigration and immigration.

More importantly, the ultimate purpose of development aid is to reduce and eradicate poverty. 5 It aims to support the social, economic, political and environmental progress of a developing country over a relatively long period of time. The basic premise is that poor people should be put in a position to lift themselves out of their condition of poverty and inequality. Donors must not subordinate the ultimate goal of poverty eradication and reducing inequality to broader domestic or foreign policy interests. Development aid should therefore under no circumstances be used or instrumentalised to restrict any kind of mobility, as this does not pertain to its central purpose of poverty reduction, and may even work counter to that purpose.

Recommendations for the Valletta Summit on Migration

In the EU-Africa Declaration on Migration and Mobility by the fourth EU-Africa Summit in April 2014, leaders acknowledged that "the benefits that migration and mobility can bring to both our continents, and that a comprehensive approach to migration and mobility are powerful vehicles for boosting sustainable economic, social and environmental development for countries of origin, transit and destination, as well as to migrants themselves" and committed both to "strengthen international protection" for refugees and displaced persons and to "advance legal migration and mobility...between and within the continents." When they meet again in Valletta in November, EU and African leaders must ensure that they adhere to the spirit of this declaration.

1. Recognise the distinction between "mobility" and "displacement" -- and therefore between people on the move voluntarily and those forced to move -- in national and regional policies as well as in Africa-EU cooperation on migration. Displacement is a negative impact stemming from many different causes which need to be addressed, while people who are displaced are given refuge, assistance, and support to find a durable solution to their situation, including opportunities to practice a livelihood and contribute to the economy.

Mobility contributes to innovation, economic growth and personal development and should not be stifled. Mobility and free movement is an important aspect of regional integration, as demonstrated by the European Union itself in the formation of its own internal market. Effective implementation of the existing regional free movement agreements like the ECOWAS Free Movement of Persons' Protocols, and general support of the letter and spirit of Article 43 on free movement of persons of the African Economic Community Treaty, must not be infringed in any way by EUAfrica cooperation on migration. While there is an important distinction between mobility and displacement which must inform how they are respectively addressed, these are both aspects of migration, and people may be on the move for many and multiple reasons. In this context, a focus on addressing "root causes" of migration as a whole is counter-productive and potentially harmful. Decisions on cooperation between Africa and the EU must be "fit for purpose" to tackle the situations that cause displacement while respecting mobility.

2. Aim to resolve genuine problems of fragility, instability and crisis for the benefit of affected populations. The Joint EU-Africa Strategy has achieving human security, political stability and effective governance as a strategic objective. African and EU leaders should continue to cooperate on joint actions to prevent and resolve conflict and instability, situations which put lives at risk and, amongst other negative effects, force people to flee. In doing so, they must recognise that insecurity and violence are causes of displacement, and not their effect. Cooperation to counter terrorism and instability cannot come at the price of scapegoating displaced populations or putting the security of states before that of people. In this respect, migrants should not be portrayed as a potential "threat" and should be considered first as people in need of protection and whose rights need to be respected.

The immediate needs of displaced populations and host communities require full support, and people who have fled across international borders must have their rights as refugees recognised and respected. While further onward movement may be at times a secondary coping mechanism for a small number of displaced people, the situations that cause displacement cannot be addressed appropriately through the lens of stopping migration to Europe. Africa-EU efforts to contribute to prevention and resolution of crises must be driven by and focus on the causes of instability and conflict, not on perceived causes of migration.

3. Ensure that development aid is not diverted, distorted, reduced, or instrumentalised. Development aid is not a "solution" for the "problem" of migration; indeed, evidence suggests that mobility and development go hand-in-hand. Moreover, development aid has a sole purpose of reducing and eradicating poverty. The EU must adhere to the letter and the spirit of the Lisbon Treaty in this regard. Increased development assistance that respects this principle is needed and welcome. Stronger European support for third countries hosting internally displaced people and refugees, including in situations of protracted displacement, is also necessary. However further aid provided in the context of migration must be in alignment with the development needs of the recipient country and its people as laid down in the Busan development effectiveness principles -- not aimed at addressing a perceived problem for Europe. In this respect, new and existing cooperation instruments must:

  • Allocate development aid in order to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality, for the benefit of recipient populations which also adheres to development effectiveness principles, recognising that overall migration may increase or decrease relative to development. "Tackling" migration is not an objective for development aid and development aid cannot be used to stop migration flows.
  • Ensure that geographic allocation of development aid continues in accordance with need in line with EU's the Agenda for Change; a country or region's potential to be a source of migration to Europe is not an appropriate criterion.
  • Not be funded at the expense of official development assistance (ODA). The EU has collectively committed to achieve a target of 0.7% of ODA as a proportion of GNI. This commitment must be maintained and achieved with contributions that qualify as ODA for the purpose of fighting poverty and inequality in developing countries. Aid given for the wrong reasons - to help the donor more than the recipient country - is less effective at reducing poverty and inequality and addressing humanitarian need.
  • Not be used as a bargaining chip to obtain agreements or concessions on areas of strategic interest to the EU. Development aid must not be linked to or conditioned by agreements on readmission, stronger border control or stifling of mobility within Africa, cooperation on organised crime, or other areas not directly associated with the efficacy of action to reduce poverty and fight inequality. Such instrumentalisation of aid goes against key commitments signed under the Paris, Accra and Busan development effectiveness Agreements.

4. Put human security, human development and respect for rights at the centre of all policies and responses to movement of populations. Regardless of the reasons a person is on the move, national, regional and Africa-EU joint responses must respect fundamental rights as well as the specific rights of people in need of international protection. Security-led approaches to border control demonstrably fail to stem the movement of people while criminalisation of irregular migration has only increased the risks to people's safety and created incentives for smugglers and traffickers. At Valletta, African and European leaders must instead take a people-centred approach to protecting migrants, granting international protection to refugees, fighting trafficking, and promoting safe and legal channels for migration. This includes:

  • Making cooperation on border control contingent upon demonstrated respect for human rights, mobility principles, and the rights of asylum-seekers. Cooperation on security, border control and organised crime cannot be taken forward with governments that do not respect human rights and the rights of people on the move, including the Free Movement of Persons protocols and the rights enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention. Past experience with the shifting of border control to Libya, for example, has demonstrated that such short-term approach that disregards the respect for basic human rights is counterproductive.
  • Creating more and varied channels for regular labour migration. Recognising the link between restrictive and security-focused immigration policies and the growth of smuggling and trafficking on the one hand, and the benefits of migration recognised by the EU and Africa on the other, the EU in particular must commit to broadening its labour migration policies beyond selected highly-skilled sectors and take a more progressive approach to creating safe, transparent, temporary as well as permanent option for migrants across sectors. Doing so is the only realistic approach to a well-functioning migration management system, but is also incumbent upon the EU in order to reduce the precarious and often exploitative conditions in which irregular workers find themselves when there is labour demand but insufficient legal channels.
  • Find durable solutions to displacement and protracted refugee situations that respect human dignity and the needs of the most vulnerable. Repatriation, integration and resettlement must all be considered as potential options for addressing the situations of displaced people. Europe in particular must do its fair share to resettle the most vulnerable refugees while supporting other solutions where appropriate.

African and European Civil Society Joint Statement Valletta Summit, 11-12 November, 2015

[Brief excerpts only - for full text visit - direct URL:]

In the 2014 EU-Africa Declaration on Migration and Mobility, African and European leaders acknowledged "the benefits that migration and mobility can bring to both continents" as well as the need for "a comprehensive approach to migration and mobility". The leaders also committed to both "strengthen international protection" for refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons and to "advance legal migration and mobility [...] between and within the continents."

When these leaders meet again in Valletta, we call on them to adhere to the spirit of this declaration. We call on African and European leaders to take decisions that respect the right to mobility and focus first, on human rights, decency, dignity, well-being and welcoming of people in need. African and European leaders should work as equal partners, and in collaboration with civil society, to deliver a plan that improves migration management and governance. And short-term responses to current emergencies should be crafted with a long-term perspective in mind. With great urgency, it is time to:

  1. Tackle the root causes that force people to migrate, while respecting rights to mobility
  2. Ensure safe and regular migration routes to Europe, to prevent migrants and refugees' deaths and suffering
  3. Ensure effective implementation of anti-trafficking legislation and plans - with a focus on victim-centred and gender-sensitive provisions
  4. Strengthen international protection to ensure that refugees' rights are respected and that their needs are met
  5. Ensure the protection of human rights in all return operations and in the negotiations of any migration cooperation agreements, including readmission agreements
  6. Support African countries to develop coherent migration and asylum policies and improve migration/asylum governance at the national and regional levels
  7. Facilitate and support migrants' and diaspora's contributions to development
  8. Include a Partnership principle to ensure that funding priorities match the needs in the region and that civil society contributes to the programming process of the EU Emergency Trust Fund

  9. Support citizen mobilization to change perceptions on migrants and refugees in host countries

How the World Views Migration International Organization for Migration (IOM)

October 2015 - direct URL:

[Excerpts from press release - full report available at link above]

"The study, based on interviews conducted by Gallup with over 183,000 adults across over 140 countries between 2012 and 2014, shows that people around the world are not as opposed to immigration as may be commonly assumed. Some 43 per cent favour increasing or keeping stable the numbers of immigrants in their countries, while only 34 per cent support lower levels of immigration.

People in Europe appeared to be the most negative towards immigration, with over half of all respondents favoring lower immigration levels in their countries."

"Attitudes differed substantially between Northern Europe – with people in Sweden, Denmark and Finland being generally positive about immigration – and Southern Europe, where a high percentage of people in Greece, Malta and Italy wanted to see immigration reduced. The UK represented the only exception in Northern Europe, with over twothirds of respondents wanting to see lower immigration levels."

[Excerpts from full report]

Residents of Africa, as a whole, are more likely to favour keeping immigration levels the same (21%) or increasing them (26%) rather than decreasing them (40%). Attitudes are most positive in Western Africa, where the majority would like to see same or increased immigration levels. In fact, the 33 per cent of adults who want to see levels increased is not only the highest among all regions in Africa but also the highest in the world. Nearly half of residents in Niger (45%) – a major transit country for migrants from other Western African countries – would like to see higher immigration levels.

In contrast, residents of nearly every country surveyed in Northern Africa – the gateway to other countries in Europe and elsewhere – are, on average, more negative than positive about immigration. Several of these countries, such as Libya, where 54 per cent of residents want immigration levels to decrease, had recently emerged from conflict at the time the survey was conducted. While many migrants fled Libya during the upheaval, a large number still remains and continues to pour into the fragile country from elsewhere in Africa.

Majorities too in Southern Africa are more likely to want to see immigration levels decreased in their countries. Rising xenophobic sentiment has often turned violent in countries such as the main destination for migration in the region, South Africa, 8 where 56 per cent of residents want to see lower immigration levels.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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