“We share an interest in managing migration in the best possible way, for both Europe and Africa,” Mogherini said at the time.
Since then, she has referred to Niger as the “model” for how other transit countries should manage migration and the best performer of the five African nations who signed up to the E.U. #Partnership_Framework_on_Migration – the plan that made development aid conditional on cooperation in migration control. Niger is “an initial success story that we now want to replicate at regional level,” she said in a recent speech.
Angela Merkel became the first German chancellor to visit the country in October 2016. Her trip followed a wave of arrests under Law 36 in the Agadez region. Merkel promised money and “opportunities” for those who had previously made their living out of migration.
One of the main recipients of E.U. funding is the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which now occupies most of one street in Plateau. In a little over two years the IOM headcount has gone from 22 to more than 300 staff.
Giuseppe Loprete, the head of mission, says the crackdown in northern Niger is about more than Europe closing the door on African migrants. The new law was needed as networks connecting drug smuggling and militant groups were threatening the country, and the conditions in which migrants were forced to travel were criminal.
“Libya is hell and people who go there healthy lose their minds,” Loprete says.
A side effect of the crackdown has been a sharp increase in business for IOM, whose main activity is a voluntary returns program. Some 7,000 African migrants were sent home from Niger last year, up from 1,400 in 2014. More than 2,000 returns in the first three months of 2018 suggest another record year.
The European Development Fund awarded $731 million to Niger for the period 2014–20. A subsequent review boosted this by a further $108 million. Among the experiments this money bankrolls are the connection of remote border posts – where there was previously no electricity – to the internet under the German aid corporation, GIZ; a massive expansion of judges to hear smuggling and trafficking cases; and hundreds of flatbed trucks, off-road vehicles, motorcycles and satellite phones for Nigerien security forces.
At least three E.U. states – #France, Italy and Germany – have troops on the ground in Niger. Their roles range from military advisers to medics and trainers. French forces and drone bases are present as part of the overlapping Barkhane and G5 Sahel counterinsurgency operations which includes forces from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Mauritania. The U.S., meanwhile, has both troops and drone bases for its own regional fight against Islamic militants, the latest of which is being built outside Agadez at a cost of more than $100 million.
Il y a quelques mois, la nouvelles frontière européenne était désignée comme étant la frontière de la #Libye, là, elle se déplace encore un peu plus au sud...
–-> v. mon post sur seenthis :