I've written about E.U. plans to cozy up to East African authoritarian regimes in exchange for these governments blocking migrant routes to the Mediterranean. Bad enough. But new revelations by the SPIEGEL are adding whole new levels of disgust to the story:
documents relating to the project indicate that Europe want to send cameras, scanners and servers for registering refugees to the Sudanese regime in addition to training their border police and assisting with the construction of two camps with detention rooms for migrants. The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has confirmed that action plan is binding, although no concrete decisions have yet been made regarding its implementation.
The German development agency GIZ is expected to coordinate the project. The organization, which is a government enterprise, has experience working with authoritarian countries. In Saudi Arabia, for example, German federal police are providing their Saudi colleagues with training in German high-tech border installations. The money for the training comes not directly from the federal budget but rather from GIZ. When it comes to questions of finance, the organization has become a vehicle the government can use to be less transparent, a government official confirms.
How can anyone, especially the German government, be so ignorant and/or cruel to provide a country whose president is charged with genocide with money, advice and technology for imprisoning people? Are we as Germans/Europeans/rich people really so afraid of those who are coming in search of a better life that we are willing to sacrifice our last inch of humanity in an attempt to keep them away?
There would, of course, be another way. They way I see it, there are two overlapping migration phenomena: a refugee crisis, with people fleeing from violence and terror and an economic migration crisis, which sees many young people look for opportunities abroad.
To a certain extend, European countries should indeed just throw money at the problem, just not the way they currently do. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs tracks humanitarian appeals and funding. And the 2016 appeals have so far only been financed to the tune of 26 percent, falling short $10.9 billion. Filling this gap would go a long way to reduce the suffering of refugees, alleviating some of the pressure on migration routes.
But maybe even more importantly, the E.U. needs to overhaul its immigration procedures. As it stands now, it is practically impossible for most of the worlds population to apply for and attain a visa to lawfully migrate to an E.U. country. As thousands of boat people have demonstrated, many by loosing their lives, this is an ineffective and stupid way to manage migration.
Instead, the E.U. should introduce generous quotas for visa and allocate these based on points system similar to what Canada has done for years. Making available a legitimate, transparent and fair option for would-be migrants and refugees to attain legal status prior to arriving in Europe is the E.U.'s best bet to take the drama out of the current migrant crisis.
On a fundamental level, though, we as European citizens should reflect on our attitude towards migration more generally, especially given the continent's historical experience with similar patterns in the past, especially during and after WWII. And we should contemplate the responsibility of our own economic and foreign policy decisions for the dynamics that push people out of their own societies and across the Mediterranean on dingy death traps.