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EU, Africans Agree to Address Migration Problems 


Ministers of the African Union and European Union Thursday ended a conference on migration and development in the Libyan capital Tripoli with a declaration blaming poverty for migration. Sabina Castelfranco reports for VOA from the Libyan capital.

Over two days in Tripoli, ministers from the African Union and the European Union and representatives of international organizations discussed ways to stem the increasing flow of illegal immigrants towards Europe. They agreed that the fundamental causes of migration are poverty and underdevelopment.

The ministers acknowledged that migratory movements occur essentially in Africa and towards developed countries. Delegates at the conference said that illegal immigration cannot be addressed solely by security considerations but must be based on development strategies.

The director general of the International Organization for Migration, Brunson McKinley, said the fact that such a conference was held was encouraging because a few years ago this would not have been possible.

McKinley said that now there is a common realization in Europe and Africa that the issues of migration and development must be addressed together.

"With a combination of regular migration, that is opening legitimate places for foreigner workers, better identity and other controls in transit, and in particular the development or co-development element which is to try to find ways to identify people at risk of losing their livelihoods in poorer countries and then targeting those areas and those people with assistance, whether they're pre-migratory or post-migratory because there is an element of return and re-integration in all of this - that's the common strategy that now I think more and more unites all of the parties to this debate," he said.

After hours of negotiation, delegates agreed on a final joint declaration laying out measures to address migration.

But it took the delegates much discussion to reach an agreement on two issues: the creation of a fund by the EU to combat illegal immigration and the pledge by African nations to readmit its citizens caught living in Europe illegally.

In the end, it was agreed that the feasibility of setting up the fund would be examined by a joint AU-EU working group. In addition, agreements would be reached to ensure the readmission of illegal migrants to their countries of origin.

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