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  • on 11.09.2015
  • at 04:50 PM
  • by Naomi Cohen

Europe funds take on African roots of refugee crisis 0

The new European Agenda on Migration, which European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker outlined on Tuesday in response to the escalating refugee crisis in Europe, will not only address the refugee crisis in Europe, but also its roots in Africa. One component of the agenda, the 1.8 million euro European Trust Fund for Africa, will finance several programs in the African continent “to help countries tackle problems that are at the root of the human trafficking that is causing the death of way too many people,” Alexandre Polack, the European Commission Spokesperson for Humanitarian Aid, Crisis Management and International Cooperation and Development, told Afronline and African media.

A large portion of migrants and asylum seekers reaching Europe are coming from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Nigeria, most fleeing instability, terror or political persecution. Though Africans have a long history of migration to Europe, the recent figures of Mediterranean crossings and deaths from dangerous conditions have captured international attention.

“If we don’t attack a problem at its roots,” he said, “and if we don’t reinforce cooperation between us, Africa, and other zones, we will not be able to face this crisis together, which is here to stay, and which we must therefore work on together in the long term.”

The trust fund will focus on the Sahel, the Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa and North Africa and will supplement programs already outlined in Regional and National Indicative Programs. Key objectives include creating economic opportunity in home countries, increasing access to public services, strengthening law enforcement against human trafficking and migrant smuggling and supporting national and regional migration management policy. EU Delegations and ongoing Common Security Defence Policy missions will help with cooperation and implementation.

The European Commission is using reserve development and emergency funds to supplement humanitarian and security programs already in place and is encouraging national governments in the EU to pool in more money. Member States realize that the crisis, which is European and international, is best addressed together, according to Polack.

Polack stressed that the relationship between the European Commission and African states is strengthening and that the trust fund was not developed “in our own corner,” but is rather only supporting countries that solicited the help.

“Africa is changing. Europe is changing. We are no longer in a place where donors are only giving. We are in a real partnership,” he said.

The Valetta Summit on Migration, to be held in Malta on November 11 and 12, will gather high officials of the European Union and the African Union to implement the trust fund and develop strategies for further action and cooperation.

“For now, the spotlight is on Syria, but tomorrow it could once again be on Africa,” warned Polack. “This is why it is important not to stop applying pressure.”

by Naomi Cohen – Afronline.org

Photo Credit: Flickr/European External Action Service

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