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Rowing against the stream
by Amin George Forji
2006-11-27 10:11:36
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A two-day joint European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) conference on illegal immigration from Africa into the EU recently took place in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. It ended with a joint statement calling for a "genuine partnership" and increased cooperation between the two continents that would result in matching development goals with security strategies.

"Illegal or irregular immigration cannot be addressed solely from a security perspective," the statement read. The statement, while blaming poverty, war and conflicts, underdevelopment and unfair conditions in world trade for migration, stipulated that these ills would be combated with adequate development strategies.

To this effect, member states of the EU pledged in the statement to provide a €40 million fund for a start to African governments to contain the illegal influx of their nationals to Europe, by setting up migration bureau network that would be expected to match the demand of jobs with the supply of workers.

Louis Michel, the EU aid and development Commissioner, told the conference that the alarming situation illegal immigration must not be demonized. Instead, he said, jobs should be created across Africa to keep the active youths in place, "We should stop resorting to repression, a security focus, gesture politics and the demonisation of migration. It's not something perverse or criminal. Let's treat it like a natural phenomenon."

Before any agreement could be reached, the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, who is hosting the event, contradicted the spirit of the summit and blasted the concerns, saying Africans and Europeans must face nature and accept migration as inescapable, "Action against nature is like rowing against the stream, which leads to failure. The current populations of the world are originally migrants who came from other places. Political borders, official papers and identities set for every group of people are new, artificial things not recognized by nature, Land is property of everyone, and God commands all human beings to migrate on earth to seek a living, which is their right."

Gaddafi further reminded the delegates that Europe itself encouraged migration in the past to compensate for manpower shortage in the old continent, but after getting what it wanted, it now wants to cast away the "golden spoon" with the left finger. "The population of Europe are migrants from Asia, the population of North America are migrants from Europe, the population of South America are migrants from the Iberia peninsula and Africa and other places," stated Gaddafi.

Gaddafi’s voice is widely heard in Africa, and he has enormous influence on other African and Arab leaders. Libya and Morocco are the two major ports used by thousand of African migrants as a transit to cross to Europe. Libya has always been very tolerant as far as migration is concerned, to the annoyance of European states. Many of those that come to Libya interestingly call off their journey to remain in the country. With a population of just 5.6 million people, it is believed to presently play host to an estimated 2.5 million other illegal immigrants.

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