German Chancellor Angela Merkel toured three separate African nations over the past week to attend talks that were intended to find a way to curb migration of African people into Europe. She spoke to the leader of Niger, the world’s poorest country, who stated that it would take a “Marshall Plan” of tremendous aid to stop people from migrating.
However, Merkel declined this request and plan, sharing concerns about the manner that the aid amount would be spent, and noting that in Malta last year, at a summit, the European Union had taken steps to earmark $1.8 billion euros for “a trust fund to train and resettle migrants,” as Reuters relays.
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President Mahatma Issoufou of Niger instead proposed a more significant plan than a package focused on development: to bring the population growth within the nation down from 3.9 percent, which is the highest in the world. The president did not give a clear way to achieve this, yet it is clear that as long as the growth of population continues to surge, and the country is unable to educate, house, and employ the citizens of the nation, large numbers of individuals will continue to make their way elsewhere, by way of the desert and by sea.
Owoeye Olumide, a demographer at Bowen University in Nigeria, stated that “You can’t resole this by just paying money.”
“There are going to be too many people… the development you need will not be possible. You have to lower fertility rates and bring down population (by educating and empowering women),” he said.
It is in Niger, which is a desert nation in the north of Nigeria, that the largest challenge in regard to population exists. Reuters, via MSN, outlines the details about the dense population and birth rate.
“With an average of 7.6 children born to each woman, its population is projected to more than triple to 72 million by 2050, from about 20 million now, according to the latest U.N. figures. By then, Africa will have more than doubled its population to 2.4 billion, the United Nations says.”
In addition to high population, there are frequent droughts in Niger which cause hunger, and there is little invested in education which means children are not taught the necessary skills to become productive adults. Drought and food shortages aside, it is only by finding a way to increase food production that the nation even has a chance.
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Reuters also notes, “Ironically, Niger’s location in the largely unpoliced sands of the Sahara also makes it a draw for migrants. They come from across Africa hoping to be smuggled to a better life in Libya or Algeria — or over the Mediterranean to Europe.” The migrants often bring money with them and therefore bring money to the country that struggles to feed itself.
It is expected that migration through the Agadez territory this year will reach 300,000, which is twice the number that came through in 2015, when only an estimated 120,000 did so.
The European Union is working to deter migrants who seek to enter their nations illegally, noting that such individuals should understand that life as an illegal immigrant in Europe is not much better than staying in their poverty-stricken nations. The message has yet to resonate with such migrants.
The publication spoke with a man named Diallo, from Sierra Leone, who had paid smugglers in Agadez 150,000 CFA, which is equivalent to $256, so he could reach central Libya. He was swindled out of the money, yet he has given his last 50,000 CFA to a group he hopes will follow through on their agreement.
“(In) Europe… I can save and earn money. I cannot return back. I have nothing there,” he said of his native Sierra Leone.
[Featured Image by Pascal Parrot/Getty Images]