The European Union is working with five separate African nations to ensure that the flow of migrants comes to a halt permanently after over 100,000 have crossed the Mediterranean Sea this year.
“Stay in Africa” is the message the European Union (EU) is telling would-be migrants who wish to make the hazardous journey from Libya or Egypt across the Mediterranean to Italy and Greece.
Italian Federica Mogherini, the foreign affairs and security policy head of the EU commission, said that the political bloc is working to sign agreements with Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, and Ethiopia in the hopes of stopping the large amount of migrants who originate in those countries, reports Austria’s Kurier newspaper.
The agreement with Niger is crucial as a report by the EU border agency Frontex earlier this year called the country the main hub of people smuggling from western Africa to Europe.
The EU has set up information centres in places like Agadez, Niger, to discourage migrants and warn them of the hazards of the journey. The bloc has had to deal more directly with the source of the migrant flow due to the political turmoil in Libya ruling out a Turkey-style migrant deal with the North African nation.
Some of the countries will receive funding from the EU to build accommodation for displaced people money for education. In Ethiopia alone, it is estimated that some 700,000 people want to embark on the journey to Europe.
One senior EU diplomat said “by the end of the year, we need to see results”, and claimed that the measures were of vital importance before next spring when the flow of migrants could resume in even greater numbers.
Italy has bore much of the brunt of the flow of migrants coming from Africa. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said that his government can cope with the migrants, for now, but is not confident about the future if the trend of increased migration continues. So far this year an estimated 165,000 migrants arrived in Italy – three times that of 2014.
Deportations are also on the agenda for the EU. Germany has found it increasingly costly and difficult to repatriate failed asylum seekers with many countries refusing to accept their nationals back.
An EU summit on Thursday will decide how the political bloc will go about getting repatriation agreements signed with African nations. EU leaders are expected to agree to use both development money and trade to force African countries to take back their citizens.
Ms. Mogherini has said she would rather see a “win-win” approach, but many have highlighted the fact that the EU is the largest source of development and foreign aid to the African countries involved.