It would be misleading to focus on the motivating factors that contribute to Senegalese youths’ decisions to migrate without also addressing the culpability of Europeans who inhibit migrants from safely traveling and arriving in their countries of destination. Restrictive migration policies and militarized border controls have made it nearly impossible for most Senegalese to migrate to Europe through regular channels.
Migration within West Africa remains a vital economic adaptation strategy for Senegalese youth. The lack of opportunity in Senegal pushes many to take their chance migrating to Europe, and EU policies have done little to stop this trend. Instead, these policies have just made migrating more costly and more dangerous for most. As of 2019, over 10% of migrants died attempting to secure financial stability for their families in Europe.
Despite this reality, Europe continues to invest in problematic governance campaigns and top-down development projects in an attempt to stymie migrant flows. International migration entities, such as IOM and UNHCR, focus on reducing the dangers for those seeking refuge or a better opportunity to support their families, but they fail to focus on the root cause of this danger—the externalization and securitization of borders that intentionally exclude migrants.
The European Union Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) stands as a prime example of this problematic externalization and development strategy. Implemented between 2015 and 2020, the EUTF prioritized border management and increased governance in countries of origin. This initiative did little to facilitate or open up opportunities for Senegalese youth to migrate to Europe or seek better opportunities, especially those with less education. Instead, the EUTF attempted to make strict migration policies a priority in countries like Senegal through governance and border control programs.
Local Senegalese organizations criticize European migration policies, arguing they exacerbate irregular migration since Senegalese migrants continue to adapt their migration strategies around stricter policies. Such policies threaten to stymie regional migration, destabilize regional economic growth, reduce resiliency, and exacerbate dangerous and irregular migration channels to Europe.
The EU presented a New Pact on Migration and Asylum in September 2020. It seeks to bolster bilateral agreements between the EU and African countries to “improve” migration management within countries. What is troubling about the New Pact is that it further shifts focus away from development and facilitating migration, emphasizing migration management and border control instead. It also threatens countries into compliance by blackmailing countries that refuse to adopt bilateral agreements with the EU on regulating and controlling migration—reducing or eliminating their visa programs.
Migration remains a highly politicized issue within Europe. Any policy that seeks to increase migration management and border security will inevitably inhibit migrants from migrating safely, pushing them into precarious situations of irregular migration. Unfortunately, it is the migrants, themselves, who suffer from this politicization. So long as Europe refuses to address their complicity in creating the dangerous conditions in which migrants find themselves, migrants will continue to die.
Posted By Jeremiah Gatlin
Posted Jul 13th, 2021