Migration is not a new phenomenon in Africa. For many, it preserves their livelihood. According to the United Nations, there were around 25 million migrants across Africa in 2017, an increase of 10 million compared with the year 2000. This figure refers to people who have left their country looking for training or a job. It is estimated that a further 20 million are fleeing war, terror or persecution. The majority (around 15 million) are displaced within their own country. Those who look beyond the border for safety usually end up in neighbouring countries. Only a small fraction of these migrants and refugees head to Europe.
In 2015, at a summit in the Maltese capital Valletta, the European Union (EU) launched the Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) for Africa. This wide-ranging initiative combines foreign policy, stabilisation and development goals and focuses on three regions – the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and North Africa. The EUTF for Africa is worth 3.3 billion Euro. The money is used to help refugees, migrants, and returnees as well as those communities in many African countries who have given refuge to large numbers of men, women and children despite living in difficult circumstances themselves.
Together with its national and international partners, the German development agency GIZ is actively involved in 23 African countries and through its regional projects and programmes in the wider effort to create lasting prospects for people in their own country. In the Horn of Africa, we also support efforts to reform the migration architecture and therefore make the process safer.
Protection and alternatives
Better protection means better medical care, for example. In Djibouti, a clinic in Obock has been set up as well as mobile medical units in every region of the country. By the end of March 2019, more than 9,800 vulnerable migrants in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan have received support for medical, psychosocial and legal issues, child protection, family reunifications, accommodation and a voluntary return to their home countries.
Support and specially designed courses for over 40 civil society organizations are part of a comprehensive programme (Better Migration Management, BMM) to improve migration management in the Horn of Africa. The programme is being implemented by GIZ on behalf of the EU and Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ). All the measures are closely coordinated with the African Union Commission and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The main focus is on protecting and supporting migrants – especially women and children, who are often the victims of violence and rape on the long migrant routes. The aim is to build knowledge on migration policies and legal and police issues in order to reduce human trafficking in the region.
In addition, a migration policy is being implemented that has been coordinated regionally and is aligned with international legislation. Accordingly, new governmental structures are put into place to ensure that migrants are being treated in accordance with human rights. With the support of BMM, the first postgraduate diploma course on migration in the region launched in May 2019. The course aims to enable important actors in the IGAD member states to become experts on migration and border management. Another goal is to improve cooperation between neighbouring countries in Eastern Africa. Furthermore, campaigns inform about opportunities to work and study at home and abroad and about the potential risks of migration. In Kenya, for example, a job and education fair that was accompanied by a social media campaign, reached around half a million people.
The ‘do no harm’ principle applies to all the countries involved in the programme. This means avoiding any dealings with people or groups linked to human rights violations. The emphasis is on observing human rights and complying with international conventions on the protection of refugees. Both GIZ and the EU/BMZ steering committee monitor the work of the BMM programme to ensure that this principle is upheld.
Help for the people of Agadez
GIZ is also active in Niger. Among other activities, Germany’s government supports the country in the context of EU Migration Partnerships, aiming at creating opportunities for local people to work and earn a living while addressing the root causes of migration. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel drew attention to this important aspect of cooperation when she visited the West African country in October 2016. GIZ’s focus here is on the region of Agadez in the centre of Niger. The region suffers from a lack of infrastructure despite its location as a hub on the migration routes in West and Central Africa. Steps are being taken to improve the living conditions of the poorest inhabitants, for example by creating around 26,500 jobs in agriculture and municipal waste disposal.
Vocational training for young Nigerians
The situation in the south of neighbouring Nigeria is also fragile. With over 180 million inhabitants, it is Africa’s most populous country. For the last ten years, it has also been plagued by the terrorist group Boko Haram. Around 2.3 million people have fled the violence in the north-east and sought safety in other parts of Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Millions of young Nigerians lack a proper education and job prospects. Many see migration as the only way to find work and a regular income, and for some, that means heading for Europe. This is where GIZ comes in. Acting on behalf of BMZ, the federal enterprise has helped to create a large number of apprenticeships in the construction and agriculture sectors, where demand is particularly high. Around 10,000 young people have taken up these opportunities. Not only have they improved their own prospects but also those of their families – and now have an alternative to a flight into the unknown.