Fortifying ‘Fortress Europe’: EU’s Plan to Deploy Frontex Agents to Senegal Gets Initial ‘Green Light’

Written by | Thursday, February 17th, 2022

The European Union may soon send its armed border and coastguard forces on missions beyond the ‘Old Continent’ for the first time, with Senegal reportedly being its initial destination. Although the plan for the agency, Frontex, to post officers to Africa, is still is at the discussion stage, the agency’s main role so far has been to restrict migration to Europe — and that makes the initiative highly symbolic and, to some, deeply troubling. European Commissioner Ylva Johansson offered on Friday (11 February) to deploy the EU’s border agency to Senegal to help combat migrant smuggling, following a surge in perilous crossings to Spain’s Canary Islands. At a news conference in the West African country’s capital Dakar, Johansson said the arrangement would mark the first time that the EU border agency Frontex would operate outside Europe.
Should the Senegalese government agree, the commissioner added, the EU could send surveillance equipment such as drones and vessels, as well as Frontex personnel. The Frontex agents would “work together to fight the smugglers” alongside local forces. ”This is my offer and I hope that Senegal’s government is interested in this unique opportunity,” said Johansson, the EU’s home affairs commissioner. The announcement comes amid a sharp increase in attempts to reach the Canary Islands — a gateway to the EU — as authorities have clamped down on crossings to Europe from Libya. At least 1,200 people reportedly died or went missing attempting to cross the perilous waters of the Atlantic Ocean in 2021 to the Spanish archipelago that lies just over 100 kilometers from the coast of Africa at its closest point. Johansson added that she had discussed her Frontex proposal with Senegal’s armed-forces minister and foreign minister, with an agreement that would see Frontex agents deployed in Senegal expected to be finalized by the summer.
Dakar was also the place where the fifth plenary meeting of the Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC) took place late last year, bringing together representatives from the 29 African countries participating in the risk analysis network. The participants discussed the state of play of the various activities taking place within the AFIC network, results achieved, and planned actions for next year. They also exchanged views on regional and international risk analysis cooperation in the fight against cross-border crime and terrorism, and shared their respective countries’ responses to migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings (THB). Launched in 2010, AFIC has aimed to promote regular information exchange on migrant smuggling and other border security threats affecting African countries and the EU. It brings together Frontex border security analysts with those of the partner African authorities. A central element of the network are risk analysis cells, run by local analysts trained by Frontex. There are currently five cells operating in Ghana, Gambia, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal, while new ones will soon be set up in other African countries.

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