One of the best things that emerged from the 5th AU-EU Summit of November 29 to 30 was the convergence of views. The second good thing observers noticed was the determination in the minds of the over 80 Heads of State, Governments and officials of various international organisations.
On the basis of these, many participants left the imposing Sofitel Hotel Ivoire with very high hopes of seeing decision makers of the two continents, Africa and Europe reshape the faith of the young generation. This wide spectrum of hope couldn’t have been otherwise considering that the main theme of the summit hinged on the youth. « Investing in youth for a sustainable future », was the theme that guided all deliberations.
As one would have expected, the arching problem of massive youth migration, especially from Africa across the Mediterranean to Europe in search of greener pastures occupied central stage. After the broadcast by the American TV channel, CNN on the inhuman treatment and trafficking of young people in transit to Europe in Libya, the air of anger polluted Africa, Europe and the rest of the World.
The question on every mind is no longer why young people are taking such risk to travel under such difficult conditions across the desert to Europe. The answer is clear and is known by everyone, general poverty generated by lack of employment.
Of course, Africa and Europe are the most hit, one on the giving end and the other on the receiving end. It is for this reason that the two continents must work together to handle this problem of unemployment, in fact, treating the problem from the root.
It will be wrong to remain contented only in repatriating those who have left back to their countries of origin. It is surely a very good initiative but it could have been better if these youth are provided the jobs that can hold them back. Migration in itself is not a bad thing. Migration is a human factor that plays its own role in human development. But it should be done in an organised and legal way. This is just what many participants agreed upon in Abidjan.
The European Union, one must accept, is Africa’s biggest partner and closest neighbour. It is its biggest investor, biggest trading partner, biggest provider of development aid and humanitarian assistance as well as its biggest contributor in peace and security. The Abidjan summit is a demonstration of the determination of the two continents to reinforce their partnership even more.
The wish of everyone is that the decision taken at the summit are not left to the dust. The iron is still hot, it is time to hit it. From every indication, things seem to be taking off faster than one would have expected as can be observed from the creation of the task force and the decision by the European Investment Bank to increase its lending to projects outside the EU that address migration issues and can benefit from an EU guarantee.
Apart from these early engagements and others, Abidjan equally gave birth to a new spirit towards the issue of migration. In the declaration issued at the end of the summit, leaders of the AU and EU condemned in the strongest terms any such criminal acts and expressed their firm resolve to work together for an immediate end of these criminal practices and to ensure the wellbeing of the migrants and refugees. They also agreed to widely communicate to the youth about the dangers of such hazardous journeys and against the trafficking networks.