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No part of the world can be a fortress

Valletta, Malta – 12 November 2015

Valletta Migration Summit: “No part of the world can be a fortress. We should be open to legal migration.” – AU Commission Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

African and European Union leaders ended a two-day Summit on migration, agreeing on a number of measures, “to decisively and together manage migration flows in all its aspects.” They concluded a two-day Summit in Valletta, Malta, which culminated in their committing to address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement, by considering migration and mobility in their development, programming and implementation strategies.

According to the final declaration of the Valletta Summit on Migration, the common response of the African and European leaders will, among others, primarily focus on reducing poverty, promoting peace, good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights, on supporting inclusive economic growth through investment opportunities and the creation of decent jobs, thus rekindling hope notably for the African youth.

In her opening remarks, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission pointed out the attitude of some European countries putting up a fortress approach to solving the migration issue. “There is no part of the world that can be a fortress. We should be open to legal migration,” Dr. Dlamini Zuma remarked, while extending deep appreciation to those European countries that have been working tirelessly to save the lives of the migrants and treating them in a humane and dignified manner.

Reacting to the supposed processing centres to be constructed for the migrants, the AU Commission Chairperson was very clear on the AU’s position: “The African Union is not in support of, and cannot endorse the establishment of the so-called processing centres in Africa. The processing centres, or whatever they may be called, are de facto detention centers that will constitute a serious violation of human rights and re-victimization of migrants. Especially women and children would be at great risks of falling prey to rape and human trafficking, including the trafficking in human organs.”
 
The idea of the processing centres was a key issue during the negotiations between the African and European Teams of negotiators. Putting into perspective the overall situation of migration in times of economic growth, AU Commission Chairperson quoted Dr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa:

“In every moment of History growth has generated outward migrants from the same location. It is indeed happening with Chinese and Indians right now as it is in Africa. Growth spins the chances for a new life but its distribution, particularly at the early stages of a country take-off, is uneven and unpredictable. Those who see their neighbor with means and hope they do not have, venture out. It would have been absurd to propose bombing the boats that were sailing to South America full of migrants escaping the misfortunes of the two World Wars aftermath. These migrants were seeking better lives. Yet their countries were growing like never before, thanks amongst others to the Marshall Plan.”

The African and European leaders also agreed to strengthen international protection of migrants and step up assistance, acknowledging the need to facilitate legal migration and mobility for entrepreneurs, students and researchers.

An EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa of €1.8 billion was launched to implement the agreed Valletta Summit on Migration Action Plan, aimed at addressing the root causes of the irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa. The Fund will benefit countries in the Sahel region and Lake Chad area; the Horn of Africa and North of Africa, said to be the major migration routes to Europe.

The AU Commission Chairperson underscored the need for a short, medium and long-term sustainable solutions, highlighting the fact the situation cannot be resolved through quick fixes. She called on Europe to partner with Africa in its Agenda 2063, whose thrust is in development and modernisation of the continent through industrialisation, skills training and promoting entrepreneurship that will create jobs for African young people lured by Europe in search of a better life.


African Union Commission

 

 

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