Future Focus Needed

As the Africa-Europe ‘mini-summit‘ on migration drew to a conclusion in Paris this month, it became clear that while all leaders present were interested in easing the pressures that unplanned movement of people across borders is causing from central Africa northward – it is those countries hosting the majority of people on the move who are taking the long view, rather than simply looking for short term, stop-gap ‘solutions’.
African leaders and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of the need to address poverty, increase alternate employment opportunities and other push factors making people leave home and risk irregular journeys.
In order to effect long term change, genuine attempts to engage individuals who have crossed borders and learn from their stories will be necessary.  This is in contrast to the mass processing and increased detention effect that a focus only on border enforcement measures would create.  As high profile development organisations have pointed out, these latter options are the result of extremely short term thinking, which doesn’t take into account Europe’s imminent need to increase regular migration pathways.
“Italy alone will need an estimated 1.6 million regular migrants over the next decade to sustain its welfare and pension schemes.” Leaders of The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain in a joint statement.

Fortunately for both the African and European leaders, there are alternatives to a focus on expanding border forces and using detention to stop people moving across frontiers.

“It’s great to see the UNHCR following the lead of African civil society organisations, re-focussing resources to ensure alternatives such as freedom of movement and support services provided through reception centres” said IDC’s Africa and Middle East Coordinator, Junita Calder. “Let’s hope that their government counterparts in both Africa and Europe look at the efficacy of such options and allocate resources to increase their use.”

 

“It’s great to see the UNHCR following the lead of African civil society organisations, re-focussing resources to ensure alternatives…” Junita Calder, IDC Africa and Middle East Coordinator