Washington Times, June 7, 2006
DAKAR, Senegal — Authorities in Europe and Africa yesterday drew up a joint plan to fight illegal migration that will combine tougher prevention measures with more aid to persuade young Africans to stay in their homelands.
Harrowing images of parched, exhausted young Africans washing ashore in boats on Spain’s Canary Islands by the thousands this year have given added urgency to moves to improve international cooperation to combat clandestine emigration.
Hundreds are thought to die in the perilous sea voyages of more than 600 miles organized from Mauritania and Senegal by traffickers who run a lucrative business carrying would-be migrants seeking a better life in Europe.
Starting a two-day meeting in the Senegalese capital, senior officials from more than 50 countries of Europe and Africa worked yesterday on a joint action plan that foresees an integrated multinational strategy on migration.
Although a consensus exists for joint action, delegates said they expected discussions on how to find a balance between improved controls to halt illegal migration and long-term measures to help poor countries whose young people were leaving.
The draft plan calls for aid and trade with Africa to attack the root causes of migration and help keep young Africans in their own countries.
But it also proposes stronger police and security cooperation on land, sea and air to crack down on migrant-smuggling networks, which Senegal Interior Minister Ousmane Ngom condemned as “modern-day slavers.”
The draft document also refers to the need for “readmission agreements,” which will allow receiving countries to send back illegal or undesirable migrants to their nations of origin.
Senegal last week suspended repatriation flights from the Canaries, saying its migrants had been mistreated by Spanish authorities. Madrid denied this.