German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged stronger support for Africa’s fight against illegal migration, days after reports about migrant slave markets in Libya caused an international outcry.
The topic was a “highly emotional” one, Merkel said during the fifth summit between the European Union and the African Union which began on November 29 in Ivory Coast.
Europe and Africa now shared “a common interest in stopping illegal migration and creating legal opportunities for people from Africa, to be trained, to study in our midst,” Merkel said in Ivory Coast's commercial capital, Abidjan.
More than 80 European and African leaders, including Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, are scheduled to talk about migration, security and youth development during the two-day summit.
A focus will be on creating better education and economic opportunities for Africa's rapidly growing population, which is set to more than double to 2.4 billion people by 2050, according to the United Nations.
About 60 percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 25.
The EU is particularly hoping that economic support to Africa will eventually lower the number of people migrating through the Sahara and across the Mediterranean - considered to be the world's most dangerous migration route - to Europe.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said this week that the number of dead or missing migrants in the Mediterranean has risen above the 3,000-mark for the fourth year in a row.
Illegal migration played a major role in all African countries, said Merkel in a briefing following a bilateral meeting with Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara.
Merkel praised the developmental achievements Ouattara’s government had made in the West African nation.
Creating good economic frameworks were key to a country’s progress, Merkel said, promising that Germany would offer Ivory Coast - which hasn’t received development aid from Germany for years - increased support.