Wednesday

21st Nov 2018

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

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.

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.

Opinion

EU election observers play vital role

A Kenyan court decision to nullify presidential elections should not call into question the usefulness of international election observation.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary grants asylum to ex-Macedonia PM
  2. UK court rules against government in Article 50 case
  3. May to meet Juncker on Wednesday to finalise Brexit deal
  4. Future of EU's Mediterranean naval mission in doubt
  5. EU budget talks for 2019 collapse
  6. EU mulls new Russia sanctions over Ukraine 'elections'
  7. EU farm chief 'confident' sugar prices will recover
  8. Researcher: EU expert groups still imbalanced and opaque

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Boycott threats mount on eve of Interpol election
  2. EU parliament to renege on transparency promises
  3. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy
  4. MEPs likely to delay vote on greater transparency
  5. Cold shoulder for Franco-German euro budget plan
  6. Whistleblower: Danske Bank gag stops me telling more
  7. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  8. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us