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Expert Briefing: African Perspectives on Migration to the EU

Date:11 November 2019
Dr. Stephen Adaawen in Brussels
Dr. Stephen Adaawen in Brussels

The expert briefings were held in Brussels and Berlin from the 15 – 18 October 2019. The briefings, organized under the auspices of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and MEP Birgit Sippel (S&D Group) in the European Parliament, sought to solicit and highlight perspectives of researchers on African migration and mobility on what drives irregular migration to Europe and how the externalization of EU migration policy affects Africa. 

As part of the briefings, several discussions and talks were given by Dr. Stephen Adaawen (Assistant Professor, Department of Demography, University of Groningen); Prof. Amr Abdalla, Professor Emeritus, University for Peace & Senior Advisor on Conflict Resolution, KARAMAH (Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights) and Ms Alisa Kaps, Researcher, Berlin Institute for Population and Development at: EU – European External Action Service (Migration and Human Security), MEPs of the EU Parliament, European Commission DG DEVCO & DG HOME, Institute for European Studies (Vrije Universiteit Brussel),  Permanent Representation of Germany to the EU, Representation of the European Commission in Germany, Officers of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and GIZ, German Parliament (Bundestag), as well as the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP, Berlin).

As part of the talks, Dr. Stephen Adaawen highlighted the impact of EU Migration Policy in Africa and the role of climate/environmental change in influencing human mobility in Africa. He noted that rainfall patterns had not only become highly variable across very region on the African continent, but that there had also been an observed decrease in annual rainfall amounts  of between 20% - 30% and warming between 0.3°C - 1°C. Also, the frequency and intensity of extreme events like droughts were affecting agricultural production and water resources availability with adverse implications for pastoral livelihoods, food and human security across the continent.

In drawing attention that ongoing climate change impact on societies in Africa were embedded in fragile socio-economic and environmental systems, Dr. Adaawen explained that the effects of high rainfall variability, droughts and increasing temperatures had contributed to food shortages, increasing scarcity of water resources, as well as changes in the morphology and spread  of diseases in many parts of the African continent. This has contributed to the displacement and forced migration of people as a response or coping strategy while others have become trapped or unable to migrate due to climate change impacts.

With regional climate models (RCM) predicting a significant decline in precipitation most parts of sub-Saharan Africa by 2100, it is expected that climate change impacts would affect agricultural livelihoods while the competition for water and other natural resources, in tandem with land degradation, will aggravate latent conflicts on the continent. This would further contribute to the displacement of people and as well amplify existing mobility patterns on the continent. Among other recommendations for policy direction, Dr. Adaawen called for capacity building and bridging the gaps between policy fields, multi-level governance and local empowerment in climate policy formulation, as well as collection of data and best practices as effective ways to adequately addressing climate change-related migration in Africa and the associated implications for migration to the EU.

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