In the midst of countless signs of deteriorating international cooperation, and a cold and proud resurgence of selfishness, particularly toward future generations, we can only welcome the initiative taken by France to find a solution to the tragedy of migrants who, by taking every risk imaginable, cross the African continent, suffer martyrdom in Libya, and are saved from drowning in the Mediterranean by Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), which are, up to this point, the only entities to save the honour of Europe.
The announced agreement is still fragile. Of the 28 countries of the European Union, only France, Germany, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, Croatia, and Ireland have announced their agreements. Moreover, seven other European countries are preparing to join them. Italy, which is the first to be affected, is resisting against this agreement, especially because it appears to be a Franco-German initiative, which still irritates the Italians.
This agreement, however, is more than welcomed. We cannot let those who try to escape hell, die at their own peril. And letting them die will not deter anyone who is certain to die if they do not migrate as well.
First of all, because there is an obligation to welcome migrants when they come from war-torn territories, which is enshrined in all international texts that bind us together. Secondly, because experience shows, tragically, that welcoming these migrants in good conditions does not increase the number of those who are likely to take these terrible risks. Finally, because Europe would benefit from not shying away from the scale of the problem ahead.
As with the climate issue, and in connection with it, we know that, by the year 2050, the situation in Africa could be terrifying, for at least a third of the continent’s population, which will then exceed 2.2 billion people. These 700 million people will have no choice, if nothing is done, but to go up North or down South. It is clear that Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Kenya will have to cope with such migration patterns.
These people will not leave their countries for pleasure. But rather because they—their leaders and us—will have done nothing by then to prevent their countries from being an unbearable place to live. Almost no one leaves his native land for pleasure. We do it only because we cannot do otherwise, to survive, or to ensure a future for our children.
And it is not by turning their journey into a hellish experience, or by refusing to welcome them, that we will reduce migration patterns. When you are ready to die for a chance to live, the quality of the welcome will neither encourage nor deter you.
If we do not want to have to face, in thirty years’ time, the arrival of at least several tens of millions of people from sub-Saharan Africa on the shores of the Mediterranean, surely we have known very well, for a long time now, what needs to be done: combat global warming, on a global scale and in these countries. Develop healthy and profitable food agriculture, and we can start by ceasing to send them the by-products of our own food. Train young people, especially girls, in useful trades. Encourage the training of an entrepreneurial class, which will create jobs for the hundreds of millions of young people who will enter the labour market. Help these countries set up health, retirement and social protection systems, which will encourage them to massively reduce birth rates. We also know that doing this is not only a way for Europe to protect itself against major disruption, but also to create stable economic and political partners that are useful for our own development.
We have known all of this for a long time. We repeat it over and over again. Some of us have taken action, in a way that is, however, still too marginal.
It may be an opportunity to shout it out to those who, while tanning on Mediterranean beaches, refuse to look further than the horizon.