12 months ago the EU launched a partnership approach for working with African countries on managing migration. To date this has failed to provide safe and regular channels for migration or offer long-term solutions that improve the lives of people on the move, said Oxfam today.
European heads of state and government, meeting today in Brussels, are backing policies that directly contradict the interests and needs of African countries. The EU’s short-term approach to migration has not been based on true partnership between the continents, nor does it deliver sustainable opportunities for safe and regular mobility within African countries, which is an essential component of regional development. Instead, the EU’s approach is eroding the rights of people forced to leave their homes, and is failing to protect minorities, women, children and the elderly.
Natalia Alonso, Oxfam International Deputy Director for Advocacy and Campaigns, said: “The EU says it wants to reduce incentives for irregular migration, increase safe channels and improve conditions in countries of origin. But if the current approach continues, it risks threatening the resilience and autonomy of already fragile states and increasing dependency on aid. A new approach is needed.”
While African countries are looking to promote integration policies and increase local financial opportunities, the EU has based its approach on deterrence strategies that push people into the hands of smugglers and forces them to take more dangerous routes.
Apollos Nwafor, Oxfam’s Pan Africa Director, said: “While many African countries are taking in large numbers of people, Europe with its massive resources is trying to escape its responsibility for protecting refugees and other migrants. Some African governments are changing their approach and copying the European template – but we need a global response where everybody accepts their fair share, not a chain reaction where no one takes responsibility.”
The Migration Partnership Framework of June 2016 was an ambitious attempt to harness the collective power of the EU to negotiate with African countries. However, more than 100 NGOs, including Oxfam, warned that the agreement would create an unacceptable conditionality between development aid and the EU’s political objectives, in violation of human rights and established aid principles. That warning is being fulfilled now.