Friday, May 8, 2015

Governments Should Tackle Conditions For Migrants’ Future in Africa

US Ambassador Reuben Brigety says 'it is critical for migrants receiving countries to ensure they are screened appropriately upon arrival and those who have legitimate asylum claims be given an opportunity to present those claims' (Photo: MSJoof/TNBES)
The United States representative to the African Union on Friday said African governments should tackle [poor economic] conditions for young Africans to believe in a future for themselves in Africa.
In recent years, hundreds of thousands of African migrants have risked their lives crossing dangerous deserts in conflict-affected countries and deadly seas in search of better economic conditions – ‘greener pastures.’  

Reuben Brigety said “it is vital to address conditions here at home in Africa so that young people and young families see a future for themselves in Africa - so that they don’t have to risk their lives for some sort of uncertain ‘better future’ abroad – so that they can make their future for themselves and for their continent here in Africa.”

He said the issue of irregular migration is clearly a critically important one for Africa and for those countries receiving irregular migrants from the continent.

Long term proposition 

Mr. Brigety is in Banjul as part of US-AU ties to strengthen human rights on the continent based on a pillar of democracy and good governance.

He told a press conference at the American Corner on Kairaba Avenue on May 8 that creating a better future for Africans in Africa would require a long term plan.

“That is clearly a long term proposition but it is one that requires increases in economic development,” he said. “It requires choices by African governments to make investment attractive for the continent and also strengthen and improve governance so that people do not feel that they have to risk their lives in order to live a life of dignity.”

Irregular migration challenges in the US occur via its southern border with Mexico. The country has comparatively few irregular migrants virtually not from Africa arriving by sea unlike the large numbers that are crossing the Mediterranean into Europe.

Birgety said the US will work with AU and member countries to strengthen good governance, economic growth, peace and security and opportunity and development so that people can realize their future in Africa.

Speak for themselves

While the AU has been quiet about the upsurge in African migrants crossing the Mediterranean, many of whom died in boat accidents, over the years - the European Union has been making plans to tackle the problem.

Brigety said: “We know from our European colleagues as well as AU colleagues that it is an issue of great concern between the AU and Europeans – and it is probably best for me to allow both sides of that debate to ‘speak in detail for themselves’. 

“What I can say as a concerned representative, a concerned observer is that there are multiple parts to this problem.”

But he said it is critical for migrants receiving countries [like Italy] to continue treating these migrants with humanity. “To do all that is in their capability to provide them with assistance over high seas and ensure they are screened appropriately upon arrival and those who have legitimate asylum claims be given an opportunity to present those claims.” 

 “It is also critical for both the EU and the AU to address the criminal smuggling networks that are profiting from providing unsafe transport for these people across the Mediterranean mostly, but also to some extent across the Golf of Eden,” Brigety said.

Support for Africa

“We want to provide support for African nations who strive to guarantee the universal values of human rights, good governance and rule of law,” he added. “The US has human rights and the advancement of human rights at the centre of its foreign policy.”

He said the US faces tough choices and challenges in advancing human rights abroad and to continue advancing them at home. 

“But it means that we are absolutely committed to the enterprise and absolutely committed to it in a way that seeks the dignity of all human beings no matter where they be in the world,” said Brigety, also a US permanent representative to the UN Economic Commission of Africa.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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