Can $2bn for Africa stem the refugee crisis?


A new trust fund for African leaders has been set up to stop migrants leaving for Europe. Tell us if you think it will work
A refugee looks over ‘the jungle’ in Calias. Home to 1,500 who are looking to cross the English Channel to Britain. Photograph: Stephanie Lecocq/EPA

African and EU leaders met in Malta this week to try to find new solutions for an ongoing political conundrum: the increasing number refugees travelling to Europe to seek safety.

Should Europe’s borders be more open? This is what the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has long advocated, offering refuge to the lion’s share of Europe’s arrivals.

Or should they be closed? This is the policy favoured by Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, which he enforced with razor wire and the effective abolishment of the asylum system.

A key outcome from the two-day meeting was a $1.9bn pot of money for African leaders to try to stop migrants leaving for Europe in the first place.

But the creation of this so-called “trust fund” had a mixed response from its supposed beneficiaries.

The Somali prime minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, and Mahamadou Issoufou, the president of Niger, have both argued that investment in the continent would be more effective.

Senegalese President Macky Sall suggested that Africa’s problems could be eased if world leaders did something to address the tax avoidance costing countries many times what they receive in aid.

Others on Twitter questioned the rationale of sending more aid without clear guidance on how it should be used – and how exactly governments will prevent people from leaving.
There’s a bigger ethical question at stake too. Will the EU cash end up in the hands of authoritarian regimes such Sudan and Eritrea without addressing the extreme oppression that is forcing so many to leave?

What do you think?

Is this the right way to help ease the refugee crisis? Should the EU have offered more? Or no money at all?

Merkel has said that both African and European leaders “have a great deal of work ahead”, if you were in her shoes where would you start?


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