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Press Conference at the AME: Frontex Trying to Widen its Presence in West Africa

Frontex (European Border and Coast Guard Agency), armed with drones and other police equipment, will soon be on our doorstep, as it plans to position itself on the Atlantic and Sahara routes through Senegal and Mauritania, on the basis of preventing irregular migration. On August 18, 2022, the AME held a press conference to outline the stakes of an ongoing status agreement between the EU and Senegal/Mauritania which would significantly expand Frontex’s presence in our neighboring countries, to inform national and international audiences, and to spur action to defend the rights of migrants.

Migration issues in neighboring countries to the European Union are inseparable from European policies of asylum and migration. More restrictive entry measures into European territory has made access to Europe almost impossible today, thus contributing to the development of so-called “clandestine” immigration, a phenomenon so much fought against by European states.

It was in 2004 that the EU began to develop the external dimension of its asylum and immigration policy with the Hague program also aimed at transferring the burden of border control to the countries of the South. These measures are best illustrated by the actions carried out by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), based in Warsaw, Poland. Since its creation in 2005, Frontex has organized numerous interventions at EU borders; in the Canary Islands, Lampedusa, and elsewhere to prevent migrants from entering European soil.

The Frontex agency most often operates with countries in the Global South such as Senegal and Mauritania by setting up mixed patrols and training and equipping local law enforcement agencies. The AME has just learned, through a working document, that the EU plans to deploy "vessels, surveillance equipment, and perform operational tasks" in Senegal and Mauritania. In particular, Frontex has initiated a negotiation in order to come to a status agreement allowing direct operational support from Frontex in Senegal and Mauritania, particularly in terms of crime prevention. and irregular migration, including in the fight against migrant smuggling and human trafficking. As part of this status agreement, the EU also seeks to reinforce "readimission" measures to facilitate deportation. The timing of this status agreement and for the 3rd quarter of 2022; which is why it is so important to mobilize now.

AME’s exhortations and recommendations:
1. Towards the EU and its Member and Associated States:
- Systematically abandon the security approach of migration policies in order to facilitate traditional mobility between the European and African continents;
- Stop using public development aid, which, moreover, is much lower than the money remitted by migrants to their countries of origin, as bargaining chips to prevent migration;
- Keep borders accessible to guarantee asylum seekers the possibility of applying for international protection on European territory;
- Respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which enshrines for every human being "the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country;"
- Ratify and implement the United Nations Convention on Migrant Workers and Family Members.

2. Towards African States,
- Revise all bilateral and multilateral economic cooperation agreements with the EU and its Member and Associated States;
- Strengthen the legal and political mechanisms for the protection of African migrants;
- Refuse to be the police of European states against Africans.

3. Towards Senegal and Mauritania:
- Ensure the protection of sub-Saharan migrants along the migratory route;
- Refuse to sign bilateral cooperation agreements that violate existing regional and sub-regional human rights instruments

Bamako, August 18, 2022

Ousmane Diarra

Friday 19 August 2022

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