This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Europe and Africa Struggling With Migrant Issues

I recently blogged about the horrific situation in which African migrants trying to reach Europe wound up in slave markets in Libya. A video of a slave market was shown on CNN and that helped to galvanize the world's attention. In particular it was a top item on the agenda of last week's meeting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, between the European Union and the African Union. But, as Abu Daoud pointed out to me a couple of days ago, the result was disappointing. CNBCAfrica had a very mundane view of the proceedings:
Most of the discussion at the summit was about migration, with a horrific recent video of a slave auction in Libya at the forefront of delegates’ minds. The summit agreed on the formation of a special task force to protect migrants’ and refugees’ lives, including in Libya.
There was also much talk of how Europe might help African countries to build their economies in such a way that fewer Africans seek to migrate. The speeches on the subject were generic and general, but did show, we think, a widely shared will to do something to address the iniquities and deterioration in living conditions that make people flee their homes.
On the other hand, Deutsche Welle reports that while the UNHCR was very enthusiastic about the discussion, the German chapter of Amnesty International was, shall we say, less than enthusiastic:
The plan to evacuate refugees stuck in Libya's camps will not work in practice, says Franziska Vilmar of the German branch of Amnesty International. It has only been designed to help the EU shirk its responsibilities.
An even more dire view of the meeting was reported by the right-leaning gatestoneinstitute, which has a rather dire view of the proceedings:
The African Union-European Union (AU-EU) summit, held in in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, on November 29-30, 2017, has ended in abject failure after the 55 African and 28 European leaders attending the event were unable to agree on even basic measures to prevent potentially tens of millions of African migrants from flooding Europe.
Despite high expectations and grand statements, the only concrete decision to come out of Abidjan was the promise to evacuate 3,800 African migrants stranded in Libya.
The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said that Europe is "underestimating" the scale and severity of the migration crisis and that "millions of Africans" will flood the continent in the next few years unless urgent action is taken.
The bottom line here is that population growth in Africa is higher than local economies can absorb, and so people are looking around to see what the other options might be. Given the low birth rate in Europe, it seems as though the European economies beckon. At the moment, however, the European people are doing less beckoning at the same time that they are not willing to invest in African economies (which would indirectly encourage a lower birth rate), and so the problem is compounding. 

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