The European Union on Friday announced the fifth instalment of its Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, consisting of 59 million euros of funding to tackle issues that are seen as spurring forced displacement and irregular migration in the Horn of Africa.
The EU has been criticized by some NGOs for directing aid resources toward efforts to reduce the number of migrants arriving in Europe across the Mediterranean.
The package includes 40 million euros “to promote peace and stability” in the Horn of Africa. That would include “improving early warning and response mechanisms” and “countering transnational organised crime such as trafficking and smuggling,” a statement from the European Commission said.
In addition, 5 million euros will go to Kenya to help it implement its new National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism.
A further 14 million euros will be dedicated to two projects in Sudan. One of these aims to improve sustainable water management in the Wadi El Ku catchment in North Darfur, which the European Commission says will directly benefit 80,000 smallholder producers, as well as hundreds of thousands of people in the surrounding area. The rest of the money will provide monitoring, assessment and other technical assistance to a pre-existing project, the 100 million euro Special Measure for Sudan, which aims to reduce poverty, support job creation and improve the delivery of basic services in areas experiencing large migratory flows — typically peripheral and conflict-affected areas.
Neven Mimica, EU commissioner for international cooperation and development, said in a statement: “This new package illustrates how the EU Trust Fund provides sustainable solutions to address instability and lack of economic opportunities, as they are two main root causes of forced displacement in the Horn of Africa. By promoting peace, stability and job creation, these new actions will help create alternatives for people to improve their lives to ensure that migration can become a choice for people, and not a necessity.”
However, some NGOs worry that linking aid to migration risks blurring the line between development and security, especially when working in countries without a strong level of human rights protection. Media and NGO reports have in particular pointed to the violent treatment of migrants by security forces in Sudan, including the alleged use of militias to enforce border control.
Mimica has previously defended the approach, arguing that the Sustainable Development Agenda sets out “a clear recognition that peace and security and development must go together and must be interlinked in a more coherent way.”
Sustainable Development Goal 16 aims to “strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.”
The announcement of funding comes on the back of four previous packages of aid delivered through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, worth a combined 606 million euros.
The fund was launched at the Valletta migration summit in November 2015 to “address the root causes of instability and irregular migration and to contribute to good migration management,” according to a European Commission press release.
Priorities include economic development and job creation, especially for young people and women, with an emphasis on vocational training and support for small businesses.
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