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Solving African refugee crisis needs permanent cure

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

11-13-2015 17:22 BJT

By Liu Lirong, Associate-Prof. with the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University, Ph.D., University of Bonn, Germany

The two-day EU-Africa Summit had ended on Thursday, Nov. 12 in Valletta, the capital of Malta. Facing an intensified refugee crisis, the European Union and its member states must find a long-term solution.


How to reduce economic refugees and illegal immigrants from Africa swarming to Europe was the main topic of the summit.

To step up repatriation of economic refugees is an important measure for the EU. Despite the EU signing a refugee repatriation protocol with some African countries, it is difficult to implement.

To promote Europe-Africa cooperation, the EU plans to provide incentives for African countries to keep their citizens at home. The EU will provide them with more financial and technical support for rapid repatriation and resettlement of its refugees.

The EU will help African countries improve people's livelihoods with additional development aid, increasing investments to their economy, education, health, environment, in order to promote peace, stability and development in the continent.

Europe and Africa will strengthen cooperation to reduce youth unemployment.

Europe has the world's highest standards of refugee resettlement, but EU member states do not have adequate resources and management to resolve the current crisis. The summit  attempts to alleviate the crisis, but there are numerous obstacles:

EU and African countries have cooperated for a long time to fight against illegal immigration, but with little success. As early as 2007 at the second Europe-Africa summit, the two sides formed a partnership to address migration and employment.

The summit held in 2014 issued a joint statement, committing to combat illegal immigration, to strengthen border management and the repatriation of refugees, to cope with economic refugees at the root.

This year's summit aims to strengthen policy dialogues among countries along two lines – East and West. However, no substantial breakthroughs were achieved in terms of  Euro-African cooperation mechanisms, except for pledges for more huge financial support.

The EU is already funding African countries for its refugees management, but no positive results have been achieved.

The refugee crisis is considered a product of an imbalanced global economic system. The gap between the rich and poor within countries and among nations has sparked regional wars and poverty that have triggered an endless flow of refugees and immigration.

It's time to build a more equitable international trade system to improve living conditions for the world's poor.

Yet, no Europe-Africa trade policy adjustments were included in the summit's agenda. Instead, African countries were just offered more development aid. The conditions-attached approach deviates from the original intention of the development aid policy.

To repatriate economic refugees to Africa will not resolve the refugee crisis in the long run. Among current refugees flooding into Europe, most are political refugees from war-torn areas in the Middle East, including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

European countries are unlikely to exert any effective impact in the short term. The steady stream of refugees will harm EU countries. The EU and its member states are gradually tightening refugee policies to strengthen its border control.

European public opinion remains divided, and the EU's identity as a community of values has been challenged. How to use limited resources to solve the refugee crisis is a tough issue the EU and its member states  must confront.

Yet a rational economic approach comes at the expense of morality. Poverty reduction involves the reform of the international economic system, which would be a long-term task. As long as the root of runaways still exists, it will be difficult for refugee flows to slow down.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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