Sunday

4th Dec 2022

Macron wants asylum claims to start in Africa

French president Emmanuel Macron wants to set up safe zones in Niger and Chad to process asylum applications of people already recognised as refugees by the United Nations.

Speaking to reporters on Monday (28 August), Macron said the centres would "identify" refugees that have a right to asylum and kick off the asylum procedure "on African territory".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

In what appears to resemble so-called hotspots, Macron said the proposal would prevent people with rights to international protection from disembarking on boats from Libya to Europe.

"It is through cooperation in security and justice, with at times a military presence on the ground, that we have decided, the European countries along with Niger and Chad, to prevent migrants from leaving towards Libya."

A similar plan announced by Macron in July for Libya was quickly dismissed.

But Macron's latest comments followed Monday's mini-summit on Africa in Paris, attended by the leaders of Chad, Niger, and Libya, as well as Germany, Italy and Spain. The EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, was also present.

"Hotspots is probably not the best term to designate the centres," noted Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, who was speaking alongside Macron at a joint-press conference.

Idriss Deby, president of Chad, said his country would not open offices that would attract people across Africa to ask for asylum to enter Europe.

"There won't be posts opened that call upon all the migrants from across the continent to come to our borders," he said.

Instead, Deby said the centres would be accessible to people already recognised as refugees by the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) and who reside in the country.

Over the weekend, the EU had also signed off on contracts to release some €50 million to finance a new multinational military force with troops from Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in cooperation with the French. The joint military task force will be headquartered in Mali.

The African troops are tasked with cracking down on trafficking, drug smuggling, weapon smuggling, and terrorism, with additional military support expected from both Germany and France. France already has some 4,000 troops operating in the volatile region.

"We consider it a very important step in order to get a better grasp of the security situation in the borders between the countries that are involved in West Africa," a senior EU official told reporters in June.

Niger, a major transit route, is also said to have managed to curtail the flow of people heading towards Libya.

The EU claims 72,000 had passed through Agadez last May, as opposed to 7,000 this year. But those figures are disputed given the drop is based on incomplete data from only two monitoring points.

The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) is also working on the ground in Niger and Chad to assist people who want to return to their countries of origin, on a voluntary basis.

Other measures discussed at the summit include EU-financed development programmes to boost job opportunities in Africa.

"In the coming days, we will also launch a private investment plan supported by the European Commission, which will be able to mobilise up to €44 billion in private investment in Africa for economic development," said Mogherini.

Mogherini said such investments, on top of some €20 billion invested annually in Africa by the EU and member states, mean there is no need to invent a new Marshall Plan for the continent.

Fayez al-Sarraj, the prime minister of Libya’s UN-backed government, had also requested more help to control the porous southern borders.

The EU's mission to Libya has had its mandate extended to the end of 2018. But the broad insecurity in Libya means the EU presence is limited, given that the mission remains based in Tunisia.

Unable to control large swathes of the country, Sarraj is at the mercy of some 1,500 armed militia groups and a international community unable to engage.

Italy earlier this month had wanted to send six navy ships to help the Libyan coastguard but had to scale back following protests from Tripoli and threats from Libyan warlord General Khalifa Haftar.

The EU had announced some €46 million in June to support Libyan border management as it continues to train its coastguard.

EU and Africa leaders in migrant talks

France is hosting a mini-summit on Monday in Paris with leaders from Germany, Italy, Spain, Chad, Niger and Libya. The talks will likely cover broad discussions on migration, security and development.

Asylum seekers create EU 'limbo' nation

The number of asylum seekers "in limbo" in the EU is likely to be greater than the combined populations of Cyprus and Malta, estimates indicate.

EU accused of complicity in Libya migrant abuse

Medecins Sans Frontieres International says European governments are contributing to "the manufacturing of suffering at an industrial level" in Libyan detention centres.

Opinion

Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges

EU foreign ministers must choose between contaminating their civilian missions and operations with panic over security and migration, and reaffirming the EU's core values as a global actor for peace and development.

Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Terezija Gras from Croatia, Dutchman Hans Leijtens, and Frontex's current interim executive director Aija Kalnaja, are all competing for a job left vacant by the resignation of Fabrice Leggeri.

Sweden says 'no' to EU asylum relocation pledges

Sweden won't make any pledges to relocate asylum seekers under a French-inspired EU plan because there is no legal basis, says Sweden's ambassador to the EU. But Sweden's new right-wing government is also tightening migration rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals
  2. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  3. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  4. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  5. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  6. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  7. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  8. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us