[ 02. Oct 2008 ]

Counter EU-Africa Summit - Citizens' Summit on Migration

Des ponts pas des murs

Paris 17-18 October 2008: Over 250 European and African civil society organisations are supporting the second Euro-African non-governmental conference on "Migration and Development" on Friday. Festive march "bridges not walls" and open-air concert on Saturday.



Espace des Congrès Paris-Est Montreuil (93)

Second Non-governmental Euro-African Conference on Migrations and Development

The first Euro-African non-governmental conference took place in Rabat in 2006. This event, whose objectives were to initiate a process of reflection and solidarity, to frame a common approach of African and European civil society and to propose alternatives to the current policies of migration flow control, brought together 180 people from 20 countries from sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. At the end of the meeting the participants adopted a Euro-African Manifesto and launched a Euro-African migration network.

As a follow-up to this network's work, the European and African civil society organisations are organising the second Euro-African non-governmental conference on "Migration and Development" on Friday 17 October 2008 in Paris. Many well-known European and African figures will be taking part.

The plenary opening session will be followed by six workshops to enable and debate between the participants.

The topics covered in the workshops are the following :

1 Nort-South relationships, development models and migration
2 Selective migration policy : which impact on migrants'rights in host countries
3 Freedom of movement : a right, which is far from being universal
4 Migrant women
5 Chidren in migration
6 What space for the right to asylum ?


place de la Bastille / place de la République, Paris (75)

Festive march based on the theme "bridges not walls", followed by a free open-air concert. (Departure Bastille at 1.30 pm, concert at 4 pm, place de la République).

Contents of workshops of the «Second Non-governmental Euro-African Conference on Migrations and Development» Paris, October 17, 2008

Final version, dated July 31, 2008

Workshop 1: North-South relationships, development models and migration

For decades, the European Union has negotiated with Africa within the framework of economic relationships, which were supposed to foster Africa's development. Migrations have emerged as a core issue for Northern countries, which now use this partnership to promote their own interests. The tightening of borders in the North goes hand in hand with development aid to the South.

At the same time, EU economic policies definitely have an impact on population movements. Current trends, such as conditioning development aid to the «management of migratory flows», reducing ODA and increasing funds for border controls, targeting remittances as a substitute for public investments and development aid, all reflect increasing inequalities between Europe and Africa and keep Africa further away from development.

Today, this situation is aggravated by new challenges linked to the environmental crisis. While Northern states, and especially European countries, promoted a development model, which seriously endangered the Earth, drastic consequences in terms of population movements are beginning to show in Southern countries1. What are the solutions to face this new challenge ?

The workshop will question the concept of development and the very basis of development and migration policies, in order to bring realistic and sustainable answers to the needs of populations in the South as well as in the North and to the global challenges of resource-sharing and environmental crises.

Workshop 2: Selective migration policy: which impact on migrants' rights in host countries?

By opposing «selective» immigration to «uncontrolled» immigration, many EU- member States migration policies proceed from a utilitarian logic, which leaves little room for migrants' rights in host countries. They also inspire EU migration policy.

In order to protect the so-called principles of integration, more and more barriers are put to the right to a family life (mixed couples and family reunification), while at the same time mobility is reduced by restrictive visa policies.

The right of migrants to participate in political, civil and social life is restricted: the right to vote is largely ignored in many European countries and access for all migrants to health, education and housing is limited.

To date, not a single EU- member State has ratified the International Convention to protect the rights of all migrant workers and their families adopted on December 18, 1990. The use of regularizations is threatened, which reinforces the precariousness of undocumented migrants who live and work in Europe.

Euro-centered selection mechanisms are being envisaged: plans to set up a «European blue card» for so-called «highly qualified» workers, recruitment of seasonal workers which will be prone to abuse and precariousness.

The workshop will deal with the means to change current trends by placing equal rights, whether political, civil, economic, social or cultural, at the heart of migration policies in Europe.

Workshop 3: Freedom of movement: a right, which is far from being universal

European States have put in place sophisticated mechanisms to close their external borders: migrants are forced to take routes that are more and more dangerous, and/ or are maintained in «buffer zones» financed by the EU upstream of its borders.

In such a context of externalization of border controls, the quasi-impossibility to migrate legally and the increasing vulnerability of migrants encourages the development of mafia-like networks at borders.

In transit states as well as in Europe, imprisonment mechanismsare reinforcing the tightening of borders: e.g. increase in the number of detention centres or camps, where migrants are almost systematically placed. Those mechanisms are now legitimised by the "return" EU directive and financed by the European Fund for Return.

The first objective of this workshop is to show and take stock of what happens at those borders, especially within foreigners' detention centres.

The EU-African ministerial conference, which will take place in October, plans to reinforce border control mechanisms and will try to involve ECOWAS in the European repressive management model, at the expense of the historical model of peoples' freedom of movement, which is shared by the two regional bodies.

What are the «trickle-down» effects of those policies in the short and middle term with regard to circulation, deportation and refoulement in Africa? What are the national and regional necessary mobilizations to counter such effects? How to reaffirm in the eyes of the public opinion the importance of an evolution of rights linked to migrants' mobility? Such will be the questions asked during the workshop.

Workshop 4: Migrant women

Migrant women are often referred to as victims of violence and trafficking. It is a simplistic viewpoint. Whether they choose or are forced into leaving their country, women play an increasing role in migration. The condition of those many women who stay, also changes. With the departure of men, they become household heads in origin countries, hence contributing to the transformation of traditional family patterns.

Through concrete examples, the workshop will attempt to take stock of the mechanisms which particularly increase women's insecurity. In origin countries, they form the majority of workers in delocalized industries (e.g. textile in Romania). In host countries, they work in the most precarious sectors (services, care-taker, that are more and more privatised). In the Spanish agricultural sector, recruitment programmes in origin countries (Morocco, Senegal) specifically target mothers, who constitute a seasonal, captive, under-paid and exploitable working force.

The workshop will also deal with specific persecutions affecting women, that are rarely acknowledged in origin, transit and host countries and will analyse the «victim protection» systems and anti-immigration laws that often make them more fragile and vulnerable.

Workshop 5: Children in migration

Following and individual or family decision, an increasing number of children, who are often very mature and mobile, leave their country without being accompanied by an adult.

Several factors explain the migration of such children: the socio-economic context, the desire to receive education, to enjoy individual freedom, the thirst for «modernity», the fear of abuses and exploitation. Whatever the causes of their departure, those children could fully benefit from this migration, if only they were properly welcomed, nurtured and protected.

However, current policies to «combat irregular immigration» sees them as foreigners rather than children, which exposes them much more than adults to the dangers on the road and to refoulements, forces them to live in precarious conditions and marginality and puts an end to all their hopes. In order to be able to consider the eldest children as adults, most European countries do not hesitate to use supposedly scientific methods ("bone examination").

Apart from these unaccompanied children, the workshop will deal with the case of numerous children of undocumented migrants who live with their family in receiving countries. Those are victims of rules and regulations, which lead to their imprisonment and/or their deportation with their parents, as authorised by the «return» directive, adopted in June 2008, or separates them from them.

In both cases, the principles of «devotion to the best interest of the child» and to participate fully in family life are brushed aside in the name of the «control of migratory flows».

Workshop 6: What space for the right to asylum?

Nothing can distinguish at first sight a migrant from a refugee or an asylum-seeker along the migration route. However, all mechanisms put in place or financed by the EU in order to control and retain migrants at its borders or in neighbouring countries2 de facto impede access to the European territory of persons in need for international protection. The drastic fall in the number of asylum-seekers - 50% in 5 years in EU-member States - in Europe as well as in most industrialised countries is a direct consequence of such barriers. At international level, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons keeps increasing: 19 million people in 1989 and 26 million en 2007.

Although the EU is supposed to adhere to the International Geneva Convention on refugees, the European policy on asylum imposes an authoritarian repartition of the examination of asylum applications: within the EU with the Dublin regulation, and with the neighbouring countries, like in Maghreb, in the name of an unequal «sharing of responsibilities», which forces them to receive the refugees Europe no longer wishes to receive, even though they are neither economically nor institutionally ready to do so.

The workshop will take stock of the impact of externalization of the «management of migratory flows» on the fate of asylum-seekers and refugees, whose rights are violated in the North as well as in the South of the Mediterranean sea, and will advocate for the right to asylum to be rehabilitated, including the right for asylum-seekers to choose their destination country.