African Union needs a policy, consensus on rejected migrants

08Feb 2018
The Guardian
African Union needs a policy, consensus on rejected migrants

A LOW level diplomatic furor has been going on for a few weeks on whether it was true that Israel had reached an accord with Rwanda and Uganda to take African migrants rejected in their bid to find what they describe as refuge in Israel.

The tiny Middle East country is under sufficient pressure on its unsolvable contentions of population cohesion, national loyalties and demography to add more burdens. As a matter of fact the problem with African migrants wasn't their number but the sort of example their finding a habitat would create, that it would serve as a lesson for most other Rastafarians and all who swear by Israel to shift.

Many voices have been heard in this part of the world and far beyond, arguing that moving from one country to another was part of fundamental freedoms of an individual, and thus the Africans of Jewish religion ought to have the same rights as other Jews. That in a sense forgets history, as Africans of some sort of Jewish religious nationality have scarcely ever been the subject of religious and political pogrammes that target them as a belief group, which has tragically been the norm in the history of Europe. Many of those who want to shift now belong to weaker sides of authoritarian government, or seek excuses to shift to Israel.

While members of the African Union have cherished traditions of non-interference in internal affairs of one another, which hinders countries like Rwanda or Uganda to respond to Israeli proposals to resettle those people, it is unquestionably relevant to find some common answers. Indeed the matter isn't just limited to the Israel-bound type of migration effort but there are still unfinished problems with Mediterranean-bound crowds seeking for the shores of Europe. The European Union is now becoming a sort of fortress, and even leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, often overly sympathetic with Syria-Iraq refugees, balk.

Migration has raised threats to national cohesion in Europe and the Americas as far right nationalist parties get a huge portion of the vote in general elections, promising to 'clean up' the respective countries against illegal migrants, and cut down migration numbers. When significant numbers of people find themselves stranded either in Europe or on its coastal doorstep, Africa's image is bruised and Africans everywhere are insulted, in disguised ways as this means Africa is an unlivable place. It reinforces stadium racism of fans throwing bananas to African players on the pitch, and thus a cohesive position to sort this out is required.

The first item in such consensus is the need to accept that once people decide to shift, move out of their country, forcing them back is wrong on the basis of international human rights principles, though they can be accorded an alternative destination, not that of their choice. Israel is giving substantial amounts of cash motivation for would-be refugees to settle elsewhere, which means they wouldn't be paupers when they resettle, at least where there is one working language they can use in the country of reception, in this case English. If EU leaders accept this principle, receiving migrants would no longer be seen as interference.

African countries ought to admit that a portion of the population will at any particular moment differ with those in power, and this isn't shameful. Thus if another country takes them, and they have a start in life when they arrive, not use it as a springboard to power dreams, it is alright. It needs a protocol, to foil a vacuum.