National leaders from countries in Europe and Africa created an Action Plan to address benefits of migration, causes of forced displacement and other issues

More than 60 European and African leaders attended the Valletta Summit in Malta on Nov. 11 and 12 to discuss solutions to the refugee crisis taking place between Africa and Europe. At the Summit, national leaders from Eritrea, the Gambia, Italy, Greece and other countries created an Action Plan to confront migration issues.

The five priorities outlined in the Action Plan address the benefits of migration, the causes of forced displacement, legal migration and mobility, protection and asylum. The plan also focuses on preventing irregular migration and trafficking.

The migration crisis is currently at the forefront of world debate as over 750,000 migrants have arrived in Europe in 2015 by sea according to the International Organization for Migration.

According to the Action Plan, the European Union, its member states and other associated countries will cooperate with African partners to implement objectives. Additionally, the newly established EU Emergency Trust Fund and the European Investment Bank will provide supplementary funding to create stability by addressing the root causes of destabilization, forced displacement and irregular migration.

These people are trying to find some livelihood, something that they can depend on.

The financial support is expected to lead to self-sustaining economic growth and the development of human capital in Africa through the promotion of economic opportunities.

Fourth-year global studies and political science double-major Alagie Jammeh, who lived in the Gambia before coming to UCSB, said people migrate in search of a place that allows them to create a better life for themselves and their family.

“These people are trying to find some livelihood, something that they can depend on,” Jammeh said. “People want to go to a place where they can make a difference for their families and for their own lives.”

Jammeh said he thinks European governments should monitor monetary contribution to the Action Plan to make sure it goes toward the Plan’s outlined programs and sustainable solutions.

“If you give money to the government to invest in their youth or to invest in their infrastructure and all that stuff, they spend the money in other ways,” Jammeh said. “If you are trying to solve this problem, this phenomenon of migration … you’ve got to give him something that he can depend on and use to help himself so that, tomorrow, he will not come back to ask for help again.”

Professor of global studies Alison Brysk said she believes the Action Plan will allow Europe to stabilize and give Africa development assistance, but she also thinks its goals are too vague.

“The migrants will benefit if the process is more orderly,” Brysk said in an email. “‘Conflict resolution’ which is driving much of the current push, is much more difficult than development for more chronic flows, and trafficking law enforcement is feasible but longer-term prevention requires deep changes in legal, open ways for migrants to travel.”

Brysk also said the Action Plan does not include specific discussion of quotas or burden-sharing among the European countries, with only minor reference to front-line recipients of migrants and refugees like Lebanon and Turkey.

“It is a huge omission from the summit, and far greater numbers of migrants are stuck in these places with lower resources, or fleeing secondarily, because these places are no longer safe or no longer able to provide basic services — including post-trauma health care,” Brysk said in an email.

Black studies lecturer Jude Akudinobi said the Action Plan is a successful first step, but will not necessarily lead to effective outcomes.

“Trying, for instance, to persuade African countries to take back failed asylum seekers without addressing the root causes, in their complexities, at best, would be a temporary, if not cosmetic gesture,” Akudinobi said in an email.

Akudinobi said although the Summit addressed the economic issues of migration, “money is not enough” and it should have focused more on the causes behind it.
“Effective leadership, mutual trust, political will and vision on both sides are some factors that will help mitigate the challenges of this unprecedented moment,” Akudinobi said in an email. “The summit produced a $2 billion trust fund to assist African countries in taking back their nationals who migrated to Europe.”
Akudinobi said it is “problematic” that aid under The Action Plan is contingent on cooperation from recipient nations.

“It appears that the EU is making aid to Africa conditional, an inducement to cooperation on border control,” Akudinobi said in an email.

Sociology graduate student Jamella Gow said although she does not think the plan goes far enough to help refugees, she appreciates that the Action Plan addresses the development of countries from which people are migrating and that The Africa Union and The European Union response collaborated on it.

“The EU pledges to support vocational and especially agricultural initiatives with the idea of creating self-sufficiency in the continent of Africa,” Gow said.

A version of this story appeared on page 8 of the Thursday, November 19, 2015 print edition of the Daily Nexus.