Sat, Oct 15, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Merkel turns to Africa to stem flow of refugees

AFP, BERLIN

German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday wrapped up a week of Africa diplomacy aimed at slowing the flow of refugees to Europe from a continent battered by conflict and poverty.

She is to host Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, having also met Chadian President Idriss Deby two days earlier following a three-day whirlwind tour of Mali, Niger and Ethiopia, the seat of the African Union.

As Germany, Europe’s top destination for people fleeing war and misery, looks to chair the G20 next year, it has pledged to step up efforts to help Africa and fight the causes of the mass migration.

“I think we will need to take a vastly greater interest in the destiny of Africa,” Merkel said at the start of her first major Africa trip in five years. “The wellbeing of Africa is in Germany’s interest.”

Figures back up that notion — while most are fugees in Germany so far this year came from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, Germany has also taken in more than 13,000 Eritreans and thousands from other African nations.

More than 10,000 came from Nigeria, the oil-rich economic giant now grappling with a plunge in crude prices and the Boko Haram militant insurgency that has claimed more than 20,000 lives and spilled into Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The best way to stop the mass flight would be to encourage greater stability in their countries of origin, Merkel said, picking up on the theme of an EU-African Summit held in Malta last year.

The list of goals is ambitious — promoting democracy, fighting terrorism and fostering prosperity through investment.

In Mali, Merkel said it was crucial that “African countries don’t lose their brightest minds” needed to develop their own nations.

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