Europe wants to move the asylum institute to Africa
Published in Aftenposten, February 2019
This might be a solution, but only if the institute is governed by the United Nations, writes Sophie Haaland Matlary.
The EU has just held a summit in Egypt with The Arab League, led by EU chairman Donald Tusk and Egyptian President Al-Sisi. Almost everyone that could be there, was present. The EU was present with several heads of state: 24 out of 28 heads of state, including Angela Merkel and the bustling Theresa May. This means that especially important issues were
One spoke of trade, cooperation and migration, it has been said, and both parties stressed that the meeting was a great success.
The Real Agenda
But the backlash from the meeting came in the form of a leaked document from the organization of African countries, The African Union. In this document, which is leaked to The Guardian and featured there on the 26th of February it is stated that Europe will outsource the Asylum Institute to Africa, especially to the Sahel states.
But what was the real agenda for the meeting? The Answer is not hard to find. For the EU, it is about stopping migration from especially Africa to Europe. To do so, a powerful country like Egypt can be an important partner.
Not Europe's backyard
But putting away the asylum seeking process to countries other than Europe is a kind of post-colonial mindset. "We are not Europe's backyard", is pointed out in the document.
The African Union is annoyed by not having been consulted, it is said, and above that many of its members are in direct processes with EU countries regarding such an arrangement now. It cannot be ruled out that these say yes to this for the sake of money.
The Document from The African Union is both a reaction to being omitted as a negotiating partner and an input for negotiations with the European Union. By making himself pricey, literally, one is in a good negotiating position, and so for good reason. Too much is at stake here.
For Europe It is necessary to destroy all incentives to migrate to the region.
The vast majority of the people who come are African migrants and not political refugees, nor war refugees from Syria.
Migrants do not receive asylum and should therefore be returned, but the experience shows that when one has arrived, it is not easy to return people because it depends on the home country's willingness to take back its citizens. The return rates for declined asylum applications are very low compared to the number of refusals.
Therefore, Europe wants the asylum institute to increasingly be outsourced. One should apply in Africa and not at the border of Europe.
Europe puts itself in a dangerous position by depending on other countries to find a solution to the refugee and asylum question
It is politically impossible for a liberal democracy to abolish the right to seek political asylum, even if this right is at times abused.
If one wants to change at the Asylum Institute in Europe, one would have to put the entire department out to regional centers, and as a consequence of that, migration to Europe will stop.
They will then be rejected on the border and instructed to go back to Africa and the
MENA to seek political asylum from there.
However, this is really absurd. If you truly are in a deadly danger in Africa, one that needs asylum, you cannot go back to this deadly place and seek asylum.
For Europe, it is ingenious to get rid of migrant influx by eliminating the ability to seek asylum here, but at the same time it is very dangerous to start depending on countries such as Turkey, Libya and other countries for such agreements. Everything can be at the mercy of local bandits.
Moreover, this is Europe's problem and not Africa's. These Centers will be operated by the Un High Commissioner for Refugees and IOM, the Un migration organization, and it implies that the host country is willing to stop migrants and asylum seekers physically and internate them in such centers.
Everything can therefore easily be at the mercy of militias and local bandits on the spot, as we have seen in Libya.
IOM flies migrants home and helps them financially, but has no power in the centers.
The Agreement with Turkey works, considering that the number of arrivals to Europe has been reduced by 90 percent since 2015. But the European Union must cooperate with autocratic and unstable governments in order to achieve this.
The point is that the EU attempts to control the Schengen border, something which is not feasible.
As long as you can seek asylum at the EU border, you won't be stopped.
Should be operated by the UN
The core of the problem must be addressed in order to find a solution, and the core is the West's constructed idea of the right to seek asylum in Europe.
Although the meetings in Marrakech and Sharm El Sheikh have not been particularly successful, regional transit centers may possibly be a solution for asylum seekers-but only if they are governed by the UN.
This will not be a single country responsibility, and the quotas will be evenly distributed. When each country decides its own quotas, we get something called "a race to the bottom": Each country will accept the fewest possible asylum seekers.
But Such a solution requires that all countries agree to quotas which most countries do not as we saw when the Global Compact on Migration was discussed in Marrakech last year.
Moreover, there is a problem if everyone wants to move to Europe.
In 2015, 50 percent of Syria's educated population was located in Europe. This
is a tremendous loss to Syria. From such a perspective, quota refugees are something to take in small quantities. The EUs politics about creating regional centers for asylum seeking is not stupid. But such centers should exist all over the world and be run by the UN. Further, they should be based on a an agreement that countries take in refugees and also that they make sure that a certain standard is upheld at the centers.
Out of eye can't be out of mind.