The Imperialist Tragedy of African Migration

EUROPEAN RIGHT-WING AND FAR-RIGHT SECTORS denounce that migration to the European continent is the reason for all ills of Europe.
By Asdrubal Barbosa for International Courier 22 Special Edition on Europe
The article “Dismantling the myths about immigration”[1] shows how the imperialist bourgeoisie uses existing misinformation about migrants to lay on them the responsibility for “stealing work”, “withdrawing social assistance” or “collapsing public healthcare”.
On the other hand, representatives from the EU, the African Union and the UN are delivering outraged pronouncements opposing the existence of slave markets in Africa. But the existence of these markets is intrinsically linked to their policies against migration. Policies that, as in the case of the EU, include outsourcing work to governments and mafias, as in Libya, the country where these complaints are concentrated and where the alarming number of African migrants is huge[2].
French President Macron has called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council, calling the slave trade as a “crime against humanity.” EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said that slavery and human trafficking are unacceptable.
But the direct and indirect responsibility for slavery and human trafficking rests with the EU and its governments.
Migrants flee their countries due to terrible living conditions, hunger and poverty caused by corrupt governments following economic plans imposed by the IMF and imperialist governments. On top of poverty there are in many cases political and religious persecution. Great capitalists from France, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Spain or England, along with their governments, continue to plunder the African continent after massacring and firing it for centuries.
On the way to Europe, whenever migrants are arrested, they are enslaved and forced to work on megaprojects and agribusiness. It is for these migrants that European governments prevent access in joint operations with African governments and mafias. They are the same “democratic” governments that vote in their parliaments xenophobic laws that condemn aid to migrants and even their own rescue, as the Italian one.
They turned the Mediterranean into a huge mass graveyard. The number of victims drowned in these five years exceeds 19,000. A human catastrophe that is a faithful reflection of the extreme decomposition of the world capitalist system.
Joint Operations
The EU has commissioned the Turkish government led by Erdogan to block Syrian refugees from entering Europe. At the same time, in 2015, during the migration boom to Europe, EU governments met in Valletta (Malta) and created the “Africa Fund” with a one-billion dollars budget.
With this fund, they developed “Operation Sofia,” for which they financed the corrupt Libyan government of Tripoli, so that their mafia-associated Coast Guard, trained and supervised by the Italian navy, with NATO aerial support and intelligence to find out the location of migrants to intercept them and return them to Libya. Since 2017, at least 38,230 migrants have been returned.
Libya is considered by the UN to be an “unsafe port” with detention centers where torture and rape have been identified. The initial agreement with the Libyan government was signed by Democratic Party (PD) Gentiloni, then ratified by Salvini and has now been confirmed by the coalition government M5S-PD with the EU’s blessing.
In 2016, EU countries also developed the “Operation Ivy” promoted by the European Border Agency (Frontex). Through this operation, the Spanish state and the EU funded, trained and provided equipment to Senegal and Mauritania coastguards to detain migrants in their territories. The Spanish government also finances Morocco to curb the departure of migrants and, when they fail, intercept them and return them to Morocco.
Criminalization of Migration: The Example of Niger
From the “Africa Fund”, 30 million are destined to “fight poverty in Niger”. This country is an EU priority to curb migration routes to northern Africa and Europe. In 2016, more than 400,000 migrants passed through Libya and Algeria, most of them through the Agadez region. The government has militarized and cut off the country’s traditional routes, not just those of irregular migration, but all, although migration is not a small part of the scarce economy of several African countries.
The EU set up EUCAP Sahel, with a budget of 63.4 million, to “advise and train the Nigerien authorities … in developing techniques and procedures to better control and combat irregular migration”.
The Nigerian government will amend the legislation in order to criminalize migrants as well as passersby and transporters, who are not necessarily mafias in human trafficking, but ordinary people who live on bringing people to the northern African borders and return goods to Niger. The bill 36/2015 resulted in the confiscation of vehicles and the arrest of carriers, leaving about 7,000 families, who are not criminals but small traditional traders, with no means of subsistence.
The Fund remaining, camouflaged by justifications such as the fight against terrorism and security, is devoted to border surveillance and control policies. Everything is conditioned and depends on the safeguard of “Fortress Europe”.
In Africa, the migrant population is becoming clandestine, persecuted by the authorities. Police and the military control the routes, have taken the wells of drinking water along the route, and it is increasingly risky to cross the Sahel desert. The EU military advises authorities and security forces, finances the purchase of equipment and vehicles, and facilitates biometric border control records.
“Fortress Europe” builds a large moat in the Mediterranean and creates another in the Sahara so that there are no witnesses and “democratic” EU governments ensure that no one sees the dead in the desert. With a “humanitarian” façade, the EU commits crimes against humanity on the African continent.
Hunger, Poverty and Slavery in Libya
In Libya, they have not only favored the corrupt Tripoli government, which builds its crackdown on EU “humanitarian aid”, but also the mafias and traffickers, in a lucrative trade in migrants largely operated by the centers of detention, officially administered by the government, but actually in the hands of paramilitary militias attached to it.
In April 2019, in a riot in one of these detention centers, Qasr bin Ghashir in Tripoli, these militias fired indiscriminately at refugees. The refugees were transferred to a detention center run by the Az-Zāwiyah militia, where they were tortured and extorted. This protest was the continuation of the December 2018 hunger strike, in which migrants and refugees from Khoms Suq al-Khamis tried to prevent their sale as slaves. In June 2019, they fired on another group of refugees while protesting food deprivation at a center run by the Al-Nasr Brigade, whose leader Mohammed Kachlaf, accused of human trafficking in international courts. Many pay to enter the best-regarded centers run by UNHCR and LibAid in Tripoli. The price is around € 430 per migrant.
UNHCR and the EU consider it acceptable to work with the Az-Zāwiyah Al-Nasr Brigade, which acts in conjunction with the Libyan Coast Guard. However, UNHCR officials say the centers are not safe for refugees and cannot prevent torture and stupidity against refugees.
Native or Foreign, the Same Working Class
Governments, employers and parties spread prejudice against migrant workers to divide the working class. They use racism, xenophobia (hatred for foreigners) and Islamophobia although they are the ones responsible for unemployment, poverty and lack of resources that worsen the living conditions of the European working masses. Racist discourse aims to encourage and increase capitalist exploitation.
Treacherous trade unionists, in their turn, make it difficult for unions to organize migrants and say that jobs should be reserved for native workers, weakening the working class as a whole. Only the unity of both national and foreign workers can stop the backlash on living conditions. That is why organizing native and migrant workers to fight back exploitation and oppression together is a fundamental task.
We have to stand for the African peoples’ struggle to free themselves from the plunder to which they are subjected by European multinationals and to offer massive support for their development to compensate for the historical plunder they have suffered. Furthermore, we stand for policies that provide safe migration, meeting human needs.
We fight for the provision of work and residence permits for migrants, without any restrictions on access to public services, on union wages and working conditions, the right to organize, including undocumented ones. We demand the end of detention centers, deportations and slave labor.
Only a Socialist Workers’ Europe can be supportive and fraternal with the African peoples and their migrants.
[1] by Daniel Aurel Neamtu and Mai Madhun.
[2] by Hertz Dias and Américo Gomes.

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