Africa

Macron warning over EU's Africa migrant centre plans

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Media captionFrance’s president has visited a nightclub founded by legendary musician Fela Kuti in Lagos

French President Emmanuel Macron has told the BBC that EU plans to create migrant processing centres in North Africa will not work unless the process is led by those countries.

Speaking during a visit to Nigeria, Mr Macron said many African countries were worried that such centres would act as a pull factor for migrants.

No African country has so far agreed to host the centres.

EU leaders agreed to explore the idea at a summit earlier this month.

Mr Macron said that Europe would be dealing with migration from Africa for decades due to what he called the fundamental problem of unplanned population growth in Africa.

He has been criticised for saying the same thing in the past, with some accusing him of repeating colonial rhetoric.

However he also said that the EU could not take decisions for African countries.

The idea of migrant processing centres in North Africa "can fly, just if some African governments decide to organise it", he said.

Mr Macron said his top priority was to discourage people from taking "crazy risks" and putting their lives in danger in order to get to Europe.

What did EU leaders agree last week?

They reached a deal after marathon negotiations in Brussels, but they have since differed sharply on how the plan would be implemented. The measures they agreed on included:

  • Exploring the possibility of "regional disembarkation platforms", designed to thwart people-smuggling gangs by processing migrants outside the EU
  • Setting up secure migrant processing centres in EU countries, although no country has yet volunteered to host one. Mr Macron said France would not host one as it was not a country where migrants landed but Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the centres could be anywhere in the EU
  • Strengthening external border controls, with more funding for Turkey and countries in North Africa
  • Boosting investment in Africa to help the continent achieve a "socio-economic transformation" so people no longer want to leave in pursuit of a better life in Europe

Earlier on in his trip to Lagos, Mr Macron told Nigerian entrepreneurs his aim was to help Africa succeed, offer new hope to African youth and persuade Europeans that Africa was part of their "common destiny".

More than 100 people have drowned and a further 100 were reported missing after migrant boats sank in two separate incidents over the past week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.

More than 1,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year, the IOM says.

About 56,000 migrants have arrived in Europe so far this year compared with more than a million in 2015.

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