Merkel turns to Africa to curb mi­grant flow

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

BER­LIN:

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel yes­ter­day wrapped up a week of Africa diplo­macy aimed at slow­ing the flow of mi­grants to Europe from a con­ti­nent bat­tered by con­flict and poverty. She will host Nige­rian Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari, hav­ing also met Chad’s head of state Idriss Deby two days ear­lier fol­low­ing a three-day whirl­wind tour of Mali, Niger and Ethiopia, the seat of the African Union. As Ger­many, Europe’s top des­ti­na­tion for peo­ple flee­ing war and mis­ery, looks to chair the G20 next year, it has pledged to step up ef­forts to help Africa and fight the causes of the mass mi­gra­tion.

“I think we will need to take a vastly greater in­ter­est in the destiny of Africa,” Merkel said at the start of her first ma­jor Africa trip in five years. “The well-be­ing of Africa is in Ger­many’s in­ter­est.” Data backs up that no­tion - while most asy­lum-seek­ers in Ger­many so far this year came from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, Ger­many has also taken in over 13,000 Eritre­ans and thou­sands from other African coun­tries. More than 10,000 came from Nige­ria, the oil-rich eco­nomic gi­ant now grap­pling with a plunge in crude prices and the Boko Haram ji­hadist in­sur­gency that has claimed over 20,000 lives and spilled into Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

‘Life-Threat­en­ing Jour­neys’

Merkel on her three-na­tion trip re­peat­edly warned Africans against cross­ing dan­ger­ous deserts and seas for an un­cer­tain fu­ture in Europe. “Of­ten it’s the young peo­ple who head for Europe with com­pletely wrong ideas,” she said in Ad­dis Ababa. “They risk a life-threat­en­ing jour­ney with­out know­ing what’s wait­ing for them or even whether they’ll be able to stay.” The best way to stop the mass flight would be to en­cour­age greater sta­bil­ity in their coun­tries of ori­gin, Merkel said, pick­ing up on the theme of an EU-African Sum­mit held in Malta last year.

The list of goals is am­bi­tious - pro­mot­ing democ­racy, fight­ing ter­ror­ism and fos­ter­ing pros­per­ity through in­vest­ment. In Mali, Merkel said it was cru­cial that “African coun­tries don’t lose their bright­est minds” needed to de­velop their own coun­tries. Merkel said that as chair of the Group of 20, Ber­lin would next year host a con­fer­ence on in­vest­ment in Africa, es­pe­cially in the trans­port and en­ergy sec­tors.

— AP

BER­LIN: Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and the Pres­i­dent of Nige­ria Muham­madu Buhari shake hands af­ter talks at the chan­cellery.

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