FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Collusion and Control: Europe Pays Africa to Keep Refugees

Things are getting their populist worst in Europe, with proposals of payment to various regimes to control the flow of refugees assuming grand proportions. Various African governments (Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia) have been offered in the order of 1.8 billion Euros to accomplish such dubious ends. “It could almost be satire,” writes Ahmed H. Adam in The Guardian (Nov 13).

The Malta Migration Summit in Valletta saw a range of suggestions that betrayed the lengths of desperation European states are willing to go. Rather than seeing a comprehensive set of plans to deal with migrant flows at the source, in transit, and at points of destination, we have a set of primitive proposals centred on aid and bolstering repressive regimes. The end result is the same: monetising a humanitarian problem with such proposals as an Emergency Trust Fund. Member states have been asked, in turn, to make matching contributions.

The governments slated to receive money have, to a large extent, been vigorous contributors to the very refugee crisis they are now being told to stem. The result, rather perversely, is a form of refugee aid in reverse.

The Sudanese case is particularly striking, with the High Commission for Refugees noting that some 400,000 people have been internally displaced in Darfur, with a further 6.9 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. The number of internal displacements are set to increase by the end of this year.

Another proposed recipient state, Eritrea, has similarly been the catalyst for large numbers of refugees heading to Europe. Eritreans, in 2014, constituted the second largest migrant group, after Syrians, reaching 34,320 (African Arguments, Apr 16). As Maimuna Mohamud and Cindy Horst note in African Arguments, “These figures give an indication of the ongoing and prolonged political repression in Eritrea and tragically, these asylum seekers often face further insecure conditions in Libya – a hub for migrants en route to the EU, and a country on the brink of state collapse.”

Out of this has grown a market in smuggling which is globalising by the week. It implicates entire structures of government officialdom, be it those in the intelligence services willing to make some ruddy cash, or those offering a poisonously dangerous hand in shifting people out.

The glaring consequence of having such Trust Fund money allocated will not address the root causes of population movements (the regimes, after all, will not change). Instead, they will provide an encouragement to deport undesirables within the state. Countries of origin effectively become countries of deportation, egged on by monetary incentives.

The Valletta Migration summit proposals effectively continue elements of the Khartoum Process, otherwise known as the EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative, which aims to combat migrant trafficking and smuggling between the Horn of Africa and Europe. All well and good, till one considers the usual suspects in refugee production.

Iverna McGowan was quick to note the implications of the proposals. “With the EU seemingly intent on enlisting African nations as proxy gatekeepers, the Valletta summit is likely to result in a one-sided border control contract dressed up as a cooperation agreement.”

There are other problems with this proxy enlistment. The underlying issue here, again rooted in a monetary conceptualisation of the problem, is that the refugees fleeing for Europe from certain areas of conflict are treated as the economic sort. This skewed reading invariably invites further hostility in European quarters while denigrating the actual humanitarian character of those fleeing brutal regimes and states of fear. Forking out cash to those very regimes neither encourages protection, nor fosters stability.

The line of reasoning there is that the African refugee dilemma is being treated differently from that of Syria and Iraq. Those from Iraq and Syria are deemed humanitarian refugees; those from Africa, economic. The assessment is flawed at its core, given the conflicts afflicting Somalia, Eritrea, some parts of Nigeria and the Central African Republic (Newsweek, Nov 13).

The last, though by no means exhaustive point in these sham proposals, is the lack of monitoring and transparency that this will entail. The EU has pressed for guarantees that those returning to origin states such as Eritrea will have their safety assured, and that no torture will take place.

This stunningly naïve approach avoids the very reason why such individuals flee in the first place, effectively making a gentleman’s agreement out of regime cruelty. The rule against non-refoulement enshrined in the Refugee Convention can never be reduced to such Queensberry rules of decency.

If ever there was incitement to continue a crisis rather than curb it, this is it. Such recipient governments have every interest in perpetuating, not stemming, the problem. Scores can be settled while money is funnelled into the ether. While Australian government officials pay the very people smugglers they supposedly loathe to relocate to Indonesia, various regimes can be guaranteed a sum for supposedly quelling problems largely of their own making.

The Valletta summit would suggest an acceptance of the most rudimentary reading of the global refugee problem: Throw money at it, supposedly relocate or displace the problem, and hope it vanishes before the local populace gets testy.

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail