Europe has recently seen a surge in the arrivals of North African migrants on its shores. The migrants from the Maghreb countries have been increasingly reaching the old continent despite the bad weather and tightened security measures. While this development is of major concern in Europe and especially Germany, North African countries do not see migration as their top priority mostly due to their own pressing issues that they face domestically.
Algeria’s future is uncertain under the ageing and frail President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and declining energy revenue while young people face very high unemployment rates and poverty. The World Bank reported that about 50% of the young people under the age of 20 have no tangible employment prospects. Oil revenues, the bank added, declined by a third and state treasury lost almost 35 billion.
Tunisia is an inexperienced democracy with similarly high joblessness rates among the young. Unemployment is especially of an issue in the southern and western parts of the country and it hardly comes as a surprise that it was precisely these regions that also gave rise to the 2011 revolution. Morocco, albeit the most stable among the North African countries, is not living up to its economic potential, with youth unemployment hovering at around 39%, despite tremendous help from the side of the EU.
A debate on the new wave of migrants has been heating up in Germany due two major developments. First, the number of illegal migrants has recently started going up again after the country finally managed to tame the influx. Second, crime rates among younger North Africans are high – the 2016 figures show that North Africans account for about a fifth of all convicted foreign criminals despite the fact that the proportion of North African migrants is not higher than 2 percent of all migrants in the country.
To tackle the root causes, Berlin is putting more and more pressure on the Maghreb governments to find solutions at home while German authorities deport thousands of people whose asylum requests have been dismissed. Chancellor Merkel has also urged German parliament, the Bundestag, to quickly classify Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria as “safe” countries in order to ‘fast-track’ the deportation of illegal migrants from these three North African states.