The EU and Africa must unite to end abuse: Tusk
Europe and Africa have joint responsibility for making migration more humane and orderly so they can end horrifying abuses being committed against African migrants by people smugglers, European Council President Donald Tusk said yesterday.
He was speaking at a two-day Africa-European Union summit that was meant to focus on development and investment in youth, but had inevitably been overshadowed by the migrant crisis.
Reports this month of white Libyan slave traders selling black African migrants at markets in Libya - a grim echo of the trans-Saharan slave trade in centuries past - have drawn worldwide horror.
The outcry threatened to put migration to the top of the summit agenda and shine a light on a thorny issue for European leaders faced with a surge in far-right, anti-immigration parties at home.
"It is clear that migration is a joint responsibility. It is in all our interests to have orderly migration that is more controlled, more humane and sustainable," Mr Tusk said.
"The recent reports about the treatment of Africans - especially young people - by smugglers and traffickers are horrifying," he said, adding that 5,000 migrants had drowned in the Mediterranean last year.
But European leaders - including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, who head the Franco-German axis at the heart of the EU - are hamstrung by electorates that are increasingly anti-immigration.
Despite pressure at home, Ms Merkel yesterday highlighted the need to create legal avenues for migration.
European and African leaders met late yesterday to discuss the reports of slavery in Libya and the migrant crisis.
"We must not only denounce it, we must act, by collectively attacking these smuggling networks," Mr Macron said.