More migrants than ever before have died trying to reach Europe this year. They are fleeing war, dictatorship and poverty. But the exodus of young, often better educated people is only exacerbating the African continent's problems. The EU plans to step up border patrols in response to the new wave of migration. But can Europe also help combat the root causes of migration in Africa?
It's mostly not the poorest of the poor who embark on the perilous journey across Africa to Europe. Many of the migrants who pay traffickers thousands of euros for passage across the Mediterranean on overcrowded and unsafe boats are young and educated. Despite these relative advantages they can see no perspective for themselves in their countries of origin. Corrupt elites get rich on the backs of a majority plagued by unemployment and poverty. Elsewhere people are fleeing from disintegrating states, brutal dictatorships and civil wars in countries like Somalia, Eritrea and Syria
The European Union bears some responsibility for the economic frailty, political instability and conflict that is causing the current migration flows. Subsidies for EU agricultural products have destroyed local markets in Africa, while customs duties create a barrier to African products selling in European markets.
The policies of western states have promoted some of the conditions at the root of refugee movements: Disintegrating states and civil wars. For decades EU foreign policy supported dictatorships in Africa. Their collapse has exposed deeply divided societies, poverty and religious fanaticism. Interventions, like those supported by European powers in Lybia and Iraq, have left behind failed states in which the rise of Islamic State terrorism has caused many people to take flight.
How does EU policy towards Africa and the Middle East need to change to stem mass migration and to restore people's faith in a secure and prosperous future for themselves in their homelands?
Ines Pohl -is the Editor in Chief of the Berliner Tageszeitung (taz). After graduating from Göttingen University having majored in German and Scandinavian Studies, she took a job there as officer for women’s issues at the university’s Philosophy department. During her time there, she started working as a freelance broadcast and print journalist. She then moved on to the Hessichen/Niedersächsischen Allgemeinen newspapers were she headed the politics desk. She interrupted her term there to go to Harvard on a fellowship from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism. In 2009 she was named „Newcomer of the year“ by Medium-Magazine. Since 2010 Ines Pohl has also served on the board of trustees of „Reporters without Boarders“.
Alan Posener- was born in London and grew up in Kuala Lumpur and West - Berlin. A teacher by training, he quit school to become a freelance author and journalist. He worked as an editor and author for the German newspaper “Die Welt” and was chief of commentary for "Welt am Sonntag". At the present, he contributes to a variety of media, among them the debate magazine The European. Posener is the author of several critically acclaimed books, among them biographies of the American idols John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Elvis Presley.
Mekonnen Mesghena -was born in Eritrea and studied Political Science and Journalism. When he came to Germany in 1988 he did a traineeship at Westdeutschen Rundfunk radio station in Cologne. He went on to work for a number of newspapers. In 1990 he returned to Eritrea where he helped restructure a radio station known as "Voice of the Eritrean Masses". Today he works for the Heinrich Boll Foundation in Berlin where he heads the Department of Migration and Diversity and is involved in media policy.