European countries have tried for years now to outsource the handling of the 'migrant crisis', but might finally be realising they can't prevent migration and have only created new problems.
EU leadership is once again under the spotlight on the divisive issue of migration as Germany, France, Malta, and Italy have now significantly shifted policy towards refugees migrating by sea.
Authorities have undertaken rescue missions targeting dinghies left to the currents, and they have agreed to a relocation program for those who have been rescued. The newly installed Italian government is trying to prove their stance is opposed to the hardline policies of the old government and NGO rescue boats are now able to come to port.
This new alliance proposes a new approach to the migration ‘crisis' and admits that the influx is not uncontrollable and can be accommodated. Over and above all of this, through the persistence of smuggling routes, it seems they are waking up to the reality that the migration cannot be prevented.
This small alliance has gained only three additional allies to manage the issue of migrants arriving by boat: Portugal, Ireland and Luxembourg. Many remaining EU countries cited the large number they have already taken in or their lack of interest in participating.
Nonetheless, this information indicates a reshuffle or repositioning of policies relating to migrants and immigration – as such, there is room for crucial policy plugs to be introduced into the discussion.
To this point, the EU has, for one, financed close to 17 billion euros towards the Syrian crisis in what has come to be called ‘externalisation.’ In plain words, externalisation migration policy is where Western nations provide certain ‘host’ nations as well as conflict-affected nations with on the ground fortifications as well as hefty sums of international development aid money. Essentially Western countries are outsourcing the migration issue.
This approach has flatly failed in three main areas: on a local level, in partner countries, and countries of emigration. On a local level, while the UK is on its way out of the EU, just yesterday a lorry found in Essex contained 39 bodies of migrants trapped in attempted smuggling.
That case is not unique, and estimates say that up to 18,000 people cannot be accounted for. This is just one symptom of the failure of the externalisation policy that is repeatedly witnessed across Europe.
In partner countries, for example Jordan, tensions between the local population and the Syrian population, did not exist before soft foreign intervention through the form of aid specifically to the Syrian community.
Many Jordanians live under the poverty line, and unemployment levels are notoriously high. The influx of aid naturally caused inflation that the Syrian population could cope with significantly easier through the support of international agencies. Jordanians in typically marginalised areas could not deal with the increased rents, utility costs, and other expenses that rose. Governments and international agencies amended this and tried to become more inclusive of the local population.
In Niger, in 2015, off the back of an EU project aimed at securitising borders to curb and control migration from the African continent, the EUCAP Niger Sahel project trained border control agents.
The EU also pushed the African nation to adopt its first anti-smuggling law. This caused a 75 percent reduction in migration through the legal borders and old routes.
However, rather than eradicate the problem, it created two new ones; first, individuals earning their living through cross-border activities all lost their livelihoods. Second, rather than stopping migration, “smugglers forged new, dangerous routes through Chad and Darfur towards Libya, with foreign smugglers often replacing their local counterparts. Some ethnic groups have disproportionately suffered from this, likely adding to the climate of frustration and, in turn, increasing the risk of regional instability.”
In both these instances, the EU was obligated to provide additional aid to the partner countries to correct the problem, and ultimately, it did little to curb migration.
Finally, the ‘root-problem’ approach, a piece of the externalisation effort, whereby development aid is directed towards what is perceived to be causing migration in unstable countries has proved ineffective too.
Development money often targets education and job creation activities, thereby creating more educated and aware individuals. However, as the circumstances on the ground remain unchanged, this in fact, further prepares individuals for migration to Europe.
“Crucially, development initiatives can increase individuals’ skills and aspirations has the effect of driving migration. Meanwhile, due to their lack of socio-economic resources, people in impoverished countries (many of which have high fertility rates) tend not to move beyond their region or even home country unless they are forced to do so as refugees,” states the ECFR report.
This information highlights that migration is not an issue that can be controlled through development aid. Projects seeking to keep refugees and migrants out of the EU has caused dangerous smuggling routes that can be found nearly across the entire world. While some states are coming to accept this reality, it is critical that at this moment in time that these countries reassess their positions and migration policies.
This new position must be further boosted by creating more suitable integration programs and discovering the potential of preparing not only the immigrant population but also the local population on how to deal with an influx of people.
Logic dictates that individuals are risking their lives for a future with a promise; we can safely assume they want to be in European countries. Many Europeans cannot relate simply because they do not have quite the same understanding of the other as the other does of them.
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