Germany to Build Internment Camps for Sudanese Government

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.

The Grand Migration Bargain Begins

European governments don't want to have any pesky migrants crossing the Mediterranean? Niger says it can arrange that, for a cool € 1 billion no less. That is the amount the Niger government told a delegation of E.U. foreign ministers it needs to curb the flow of illegal migrants through its territory. With Nigeria to the South and Libya to the North, Niger is currently an important stepping stone for African migrants who hope to reach Europe by sea.

Niger's government has been emboldened by the € 3 billion migration deal between the E.U. and Turkey, which was negotiated back in March. E.U. member states, it seems, are willing to pay virtually unlimited amounts of money to stop migrants from crossing into E.U. territory.

With up to 150.000 migrants estimated to pass through Niger per year, the E.U. will essentially be paying about € 6.600 per individual to Niger's government alone (assuming it agrees to Niger's demands). Talks are underway with authorities in Libya as well and several other African countries are already recipients of large sums related to migration control.

We are fast approaching the point where the E.U. could pay all migrants a sum equivalent to the average yearly income of some of the poorer E.U. member states. Or cover several months worth of health and unemployment insurance.

Given that migrants are a net economic positive for the receiving societies, paying vast amounts of money to keep them out obviously makes no sense at all. Instead, European governments are too cowardly (vis-à-vis racist and outspoken opposition on the streets) to take the necessary steps to implement a functioning path to legal migration, or are opposed to it on ideological grounds.

Europe of course is by and large a rich place and will be able to shoulder this "idiocy tax" one way or the other. The real damage is done in Africa (and Turkey), where repressive and malfunctioning regimes are legitimized by these kinds of bargains. To put matters into perspective: Niger's most recent public yearly military expenditure (2012) was $73.1 million. It's revised 2015 budget was $2.9 billion. If the E.U. pays even a fraction of the €1 billion per year, especially when designated for border protection and the combat of criminal people smugglers, tasks usually reserved for the security forces, it will essentially guarantee Niger's government financial and diplomatic immunity from any challenges domestic political opposition could pose to its power.

A poor man’s travel agency

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Interesting opinion piece on the European Union's unhealthy fixation on "smugglers":

But smugglers are in most cases merely the “poor man’s” agent; a deregulated, brazen, relatively cheap and lucrative travel agency for refugees and people sans papiers. Unseaworthy vessels, bought by smugglers for a one-time use, sink and capsize whether they are overcrowded or not, whether a Mare Nostrum is there to intervene at the last minute or not. If the EU actually wanted to save lives, they could donate their fleet of FRONTEX ships to the smugglers—instead of indulging in false indignation and a predictable humanitarianism that proverbially always arrives too late.

Be sure to click through some of the (very interesting) links.

Source: The people smugglers of the Mediterranean | Africa is a Country

Fatou Diome on immigration: “We will all be rich together, or perish together”

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Some hard truths, eloquently presented by writer Fatou Diome. You should follow the link and watch the whole video (in French) or read the partial translation. This is the money quote:

And the Schengen visa that you speak of – You will let me finish!—this via gives me the opportunity to be invited to give talks in your universities if you find my brains convenient and profitable, but it bothers you that my brother, who may not have the degrees that I have, but who may want to maybe come to Europe and work in construction, that idea makes your countries schizophrenic. You cannot divide the migrants between the useful ones and the poisonous ones.


Stop the hypocrisy. We will all be rich together, or perish together.

Source: That moment when Senegalese writer Fatou Diome kicked European Union butt | Africa is a Country

Lessons on migration

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Very interesting and personal perspective on economic motivations for migration from Africa to Europe in a post by Bruce Whitehouse about a Malian friend of his:

Last year he started talking about emigrating. “I want to leave because there is nothing here. I want to find another country where I can have some money. I’m tired of asking others for help,” he said. He thought about applying for a US visa. He thought about Equatorial Guinea, where he knew someone who had apparently made good money. In the end he decided on Libya, where a friend was working as a carpenter. I warned him not to go. I told him what I’d heard about political instability, armed violence and exploitation of African migrants there. None of it mattered: Lamine bought a bus ticket to Niger, and from there made his way north across the Sahara.

For me the story of Lamine is again confirming that poverty and an absence of hope for the future can be just as powerful as a motivation for people to migrate as war and persecution. And that migrants make very deliberate and well informed choices about the risks they are willing to take.

Source: Desperate for a way out | Bridges from Bamako