Outsourcing Europe’s Southern Border: The Sahara, a Desert in Movement

Written by | Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Sahel countries, notably Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, are acting as new EU walls, with more border controls and increased deportations to curb migration flows, the study entitled “The Sahara, a Sesert in Movement: Beyond the Southern Border and the Mediterranean Sea” based on a research project of Alianza por la Solidaridad and Oriol Puig, has concluded. These countries take over Europe’s dirty work, often violating Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) regional protocol on free movement. The study also argues that the outsourcing of European services to African countries leads to diversion of routes, increased dangerousness of the road, informal trafficking and human rights violations.

A case in point is Niger, which has since 2015 taken on the European policies of containment, and as such could be seen as the gendarmerie of irregular migration to Europe. “A European minister was recently asked why he had visited Niger and he replied by assuring that ‘Niger is our neighbour’, symbolically speaking. Therefore, it is clear”. Martin Wyss from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) admits the externalisation of European borders in the Sahel and also the EU ambassador in the country, Denise-Elena Ionete, acknowledges the growing importance of Niger in the migration issue.

The preservation of economic interests in the region, the expansion of security trade and European societies’ increasing rejection of multi-ethnic and multi-cultural policies have all prompted the EU to encourage the regional countries to implement a control mechanism based on strengthening borders, encouraging deportations and expulsions and using cooperation funds to prevent the influx of people. Despite this EU’s obsession with curbing flows into its territory, intra-African migration remains far greater – 90% – than those directed towards Europe, according to the UN.

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