Delegates representing the European Union, European governments, the UN, African Union, ECOWAS and African governments as well as other international organizations have derived a common position on dealing with the issues of migration, mobility and border control of migrants from the African continent to Europe.
The Political Declaration document of the Valletta Summit on Migration agreed, adopted and spelt out how the issues of legal and illegal migrants will be handled and supported by an Action Plan, which was also developed and will address key pillars of the migrant situation.
The five main areas of the policy include the development and benefits of migration, addressing the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement and legal migration and mobility. The other policy issues address international protection and asylum; prevention of and fight against irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings; and making progress on return arrangements and readmission agreements.
The Valletta Summit, held from 11 through 13 of November, also brought together EU member states, members of the Rabat and Khartoum processes, observers to the Rabat process, and the International Office on Migration (IOM). According to a dispatch from the Press Counsellor Isaac Yea at the Liberian Embassy in Paris, Liberia’s Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union, Isaac W. Nyenabo, represented President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at the summit.
The delegates also agreed to take on conflict generating internal displacement, irregular migration and refugee flows. The document specifically mentions the Sahel and Lake Chad regions, as well as the Horn of Africa. The countries would do this by reinforcing support for conflict resolution through mediation and dialogue, and by consolidating and supporting the implementation of crisis settlement processes in terms of peace agreements and reconciliation by the international community.
In order to prevent new conflicts, the countries agreed to support sub-regional initiatives for conflict prevention, and support national, regional and local organizations in their efforts for faster community cohesion and early warning.
The delegates, through the documents, also agreed to support EU, African, and global resettlement efforts for refugees, while also strengthening the legal avenues available to persons in need of protection and assistance while at the same time conducting a joint EU-Africa analysis on the root causes of migration. They further agreed to integrate migration in development and poverty reduction strategies in the areas of employment, education and health.
The Valletta Summit delegates mentioned that they would step up assistance for youths to acquire market relevant skills through vocational training and education, develop networks between EU and African vocational training institutions. They would also agree to step up access to finance for SMEs and boost local IT sectors across Africa.
In the Action Plan, the EU countries also want to develop “practical cooperation arrangements and bilateral dialogues on implementation of returns with regard, in particular, to identification and issuance of travel documents. In this regard, they would enhance recognition of the EU laissez passe for return purposes once the identification has been established.”
The EU would explore pilot projects in relation to the return of migrants, the action plan reads, which would “provide comprehensive and developmental packages for safe return and reintegration, whereby a partner country commits to cooperate closely with the EU on return and readmission, notably on identification and travel documentation. The country would receive support for the individual reintegration of its own nationals, visa facilitation and a tailor made package of support, including on other policy areas.”
The President of the European Union Council, Donald Tusk, said the biggest responsibilities and challenges in the migrant crisis was to address the root causes of the movements of people across the Mediterranean, adding that leaders needed to ensure that people do not feel the need to risk their lives to achieve their aspirations.
President Tusk said the African Union and the EU need to start making extensive development assistance more efficient, available and more targeted, thus creating more opportunities for young people to work, saying that will mean stepping up efforts to prevent and stop conflicts, and to help countries build systems of government that are accountable and open, that reinforce the rule of law, that respect human rights.
He said the second most important point was people’s aspirations and needs to be met first and foremost at home, noting that legal migrants could be offered opportunities, but said tremendous effort is needed to prevent the trafficking of human beings and the illegal smuggling of migrants by criminal gangs whose only motive is profit making.
Liberia’s Ambassador Nyenabo, in his intervention said the issue of migration needs serious redress by Africans and European countries who have shared challenges and resposibilities due to their proximity to each other.
Ambassador Nyenabo said the conference was vital for the exchange of ideas between the AU and the EU in dealing with the migrant question as it regards immigration, migration and mobility.
He pledged the Liberian government’s support to the AU-EU framework and collaboration on migration and mobility and the implementation of the Action Plan and Political Declaration.
Over 60 Heads of State, Heads of Governments from Africa and Europe, heads of the African Union and the European Union, ECOWAS, the United Nations, the IOM and other international organizations participated in the three day conference.