Africa and Europe will remain each other’s closest neighbours, and above all, cooperation partners in need of each other. What a truth and challenge! Having been linked by history and colonialism for decades, the two are today linked by continental institutions and policies.
One of these, is the African Union/European Union Partnership whose 5th Summit was recently held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
The theme of this fifth AU-EU summit, “Investing in Youth for a sustainable Future” was indeed timely considering the traumatizing and deadly adventures that the youths of this partnership have been going through.
That “grass” is apparently greener in European countries, and socio-economic ailments apparently eternal in Africa, has made the rate of illegal migration to European countries, an indispensable means to an end. But the ugly developments on the route to this haven, have become shameful and calamitous.
egrettably, the sale of human beings which was considered a scandal of the eighteenth century has resurfaced at a time when there is much talk about solidarity, globalization, and New Millennium Development Goals. What a shame! Unfortunately, those who flee from their beloved nations direly in need of productive citizens, are youths in search of jobs, freedom and pleasure.
Yet, these are the very ones who should work in their respective countries to establish the environment favourable to what they look for abroad. Can this trend be altered? Why not?
Fortunately, the 5th Au-Eu Abidjan summit, besides the important developmental issues African and European leaders had on their agenda, focused on this nightmare of illegal migration and its calamitous effects on Africa and host European countries.
While we praise African and European leaders for using the 5th AU-EU Summit to delve into a problem that robs African nations of human resources, we do not undermine the challenge of delving into the root causes of the problem. European and African leaders should identify the causes of illegal migration in their respective countries and confront them at the roots.
While African nations for, example delve into what keeps their youths, professionals, intellectuals, technicians and non-professionals running away from home, European nations on their part should critically size up what keeps African countries poor, their governments unstable, people unsafe, and ambitious youths fleeing from homelands.
African nations do not encourage their citizens to believe that life is only worth living where persons abroad had already worked hard to alter the negative trends. Instead, they face the challenge of making life worth living at home. They also need the cooperation of genuine cooperation partners that are not only talking love, cooperation, and solidarity, but also discouraging illegal migration and encouraging investment in Africa.
This is what AU-EU Summits have been working hard to establish since the year 2000 when in Cairo, Egypt, African and European leaders agreed to come up with strategies that would ensure greater cooperation and development.
In that first summit, European and African leaders agreed to give a new strategic dimension to global partnership between the two continents. This, it was believed, would render partnership meaningful and productive. Phase two of the AU-EU partnership, for example, was expected to focus on problems caused by concentration of partnerships on research and North/South imbalances. Further strategies concerned ways of boosting Agriculture through farmers organizations, thus helping to boost productivity in these domains.
And, at a time when the ever mounting problems of unemployment and insecurity force youths to flee from their homelands, while other Africans feel no shame in selling migrants abroad as slaves, African and European leaders should face squarely the tasks ahead, by asking themselves the following questions:
Why do these youthful migrants flee from their beloved countries?
Why are they prepared to take risks instead of staying back home to work for their own development?
Who is selling these fellow Africans, and who is buying them?
What is being done by European and African leaders to discourage illegal migration?
It is possible to stall this nightmare through patriotism and genuine partnership.
The 5th AU-EU Summit has agreed on measures to stall not only the shameful trade in human beings, but also to discourage illegal migrants, and boost cooperation for mutual benefit. With great determination all that is planned with good will is possible.
On his return to Cameroon after taking part in this important AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, President Paul Biya at the Nsimalen International Airport spelt out the need for peace, stability and security. He called on cameroonians to be patriotic enough to guide against the forces of disunity, violence and instability.
To embrace these ingredients of love, Peace, solidarity and cooperation, we need to love not only ourselves and cooperation partners, but also, our country with genuin concern for its future.