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Mali and EU agree on African immigration programme

Bamako, Mali | AFP

Mali and the European Union agreed Friday to combat immigration into Europe by financing projects to fight its causes and promote legal migration, according to a joint statement released on Friday.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, began a west African tour of Mali, Ghana and Ivory Coast Thursday on behalf of the European bloc.

The visit is aimed at implementing the agreement adopted between European and African states in Malta in November, with states agreeing to 1.8 billion-euros ($2.03 billion) of financial assistance to stem the flow of migrants.

The discussions encompassed “how to ensure that people benefit more from their families remaining (at home) than leaving for Europe,” the statement said.

They also emphasised stopping illegal immigration and the rising numbers of deaths from unsafe Mediterranean crossings, and the promotion of legal migration in the form of seasonal work or studying abroad, it added.

Bamako and Brussels “have committed to manage migratory flows together,” said the joint statement, referring to the “principles of solidarity, partnership and shared responsibility”.

Tackling youth unemployment in Mali would be a priority, according to the statement.

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