SA calls for increased cooperation to deal with migration

Thursday, November 30, 2017

African Union and European Union member states need to increase cooperation which will address the risks associated with uncontrolled and irregular migration, says President Jacob Zuma.

While the legal and controlled migration of people could economically benefit the continents immensely through the exchange of a talented and skilled workforce, the irregular migration of people can also foment insecurity especially if such migration is infiltrated by criminal and terrorist elements.

“In addressing this human tragedy, we need to examine its root causes such as environmental degradation, insecurity and instability, climate change and the lack of economic opportunities that compel our youth to sacrifice the blessing of family life and familiar surroundings to migrate,” President Zuma said on Thursday.

As such, there is an urgency to work together in investing in and supporting internationally recognised programmes that would not only address the root causes of irregular migration but treat these migrants with the necessary dignity and respect.

In this regard, the President hopes for balanced outcomes on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, as well as a Global Compact on Refugees to be adopted in 2018.

President Zuma was speaking at the 5th African Union-European Union Summit which started on Wednesday in Abidjan.

Dozens of European and African leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel are attending the summit which is held under the theme "investing in youth for a sustainable future".

Slaves in Libya

However, with the recent footage showing African migrants from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zambia, Senegal, Gambia and Sudan being auctioned off like slaves in Libya has put the challenges of migration and refugees in the spotlight at the world leaders’ summit.

These African migrants are often ransomed to their families and until ransoms can be paid, they are tortured, forced to work, and eventually executed or left to starve. Women are used as sex slaves and child migrants also suffer abuse and rape.

President Zuma said the world cannot stand idle without condemning such actions.

“We can also not let the calls for justice for these victims go unheard. We need to act decisively and support the Libyan Government of National Accord to address this human tragedy and eradicate the scourge of modern-day slavery, exploitation and forced labour, currently unfolding in front of our eyes.”

He urged the leaders to consider practical ways and means to enhance cooperation in the area of peace and security.

African peace, security challenges

The African continent has made significant strides in resolving African peace and security challenges since the last meeting in 2014. This includes initiatives to address conflicts and crises, as well as the scourge of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization.

Despite this progress, Africa continues to face a manifestation of diverse threats to peace and security.

The illicit proliferation and circulation of small arms and light weapons; drug trafficking and production; human smuggling and trafficking; mercenaries; illegal exploitation of natural resources; maritime insecurity, as well as the impact of climate change are some of the security challenges that Africa continues to contend with.

To address these challenges and mitigate the impacts of conflicts, President Zuma said they is a need to prioritise mediation and preventive diplomacy in all peace and security activities.

“Whilst significant work has been done in the area of early warning, there remains much more that can be done to better our prompt and effective response to peace and security threats. In this regard, it is necessary that all components of the African Peace and Security Architecture to be fully operational.”

He went on to reiterate that the Africa’s continued commitment to replenish the AU Peace Fund in support of the three windows of peace and security activities to be financed by the Fund, including peace support operations.

The continent is also implementing a Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020 as adopted by AU Assembly in January 2017.

This will enable the continent to create a conducive environment for sustainable development. -

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