South African soldiers apprehend irregular migrants from Zimbabwe. Photo Credit: Guy Oliver/IRIN
  South African soldiers apprehend irregular migrants from Zimbabwe. Photo Credit: Guy Oliver/IRIN

Securitising Africa’s borders is bad for migrants, democracy, and development

Article in IRIN
6 July, 2017

Seeing Europe export to Africa its worst border policies – based on repression, detention, expulsion and separation of families, considered as an appropriate deterrent for undocumented migration – and spending “development” funds for capacity building of African “integrated border management” systems is tragic. So much money, time and energy spent for naught, and such a toxic discourse being “adapted” to the African context!

Africa certainly has difficulties guaranteeing the rights of undocumented migrant workers, but it is not through repression that their situation will be made better. It is through regularisation processes which will empower them to claim their rights and through the availability of many more regular, safe, affordable and accessible mobility options, such as electronic travel authorisation mechanisms, visa liberalisation agreements (with dispense of short term visas) and visa facilitation for all kinds of visas (family reunification, student, retiree, internships, au pair, work permit, looking for work, etc.) which will allow most of them to circulate regularly and avoid finding themselves trapped in the vicious circle of migrant smuggling and underground labour markets.

Exporting one’s mobility problems to another continent by encouraging them to do what has utterly failed at home is not a solution. It will neither produce development in Africa, nor will it reduce unauthorised mobility to Europe. It will increase the precariousness of migrant workers everywhere, and push them further in the underground, in the hands of smugglers, unscrupulous recruiters and exploitative employers. And it will encourage authoritarian regimes to use anti-terrorism, anti-smuggling and anti-trafficking rhetoric to justify abhorrent human rights and labour rights violations.

One would expect much better from a continent that “invented” the human rights doctrine.

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