The AU is an accomplice on the Libya migrant tragedy and on the African/Mediterranean migrant crisis in general

By Wonderr K. Freeman, Mon. Lib

Illegal migrants from Africa, attempting to reach Europe, walk towards a detention center off the coastal town of Guarabouli, 60 kilometres (36 miles) east of the capital, on July 8, 2017.

The AU hypocritical statement of 18th November 2017

In the wake of recent report of the CNN detailing horrific atrocities against African migrants hoping to make it into Europe, the African Union (AU) made another obvious pretense of concern. In a statement issued by the AU Commission, the AU Commission Chair, in what amounts to no more than the usual platitudes on the plight of Africans, issued a statement which effectively:

  • “Expressed dismay over the report of auctioning of migrants in Libya;
  • Condemned the despicable acts which are at odds with the AU charter and other instruments – including the charter on human and peoples’ rights;
  • Urged swift action to identify all perpetrators and accomplices – with the view of bringing them to justice;
  • Requested that Libyan authorities do everything in their power to improve the conditions of migrants on their territory.”

The AU statement is lip service at best and hypocrisy at worst. As the statement goes, the AU Commission Chairperson has learned. Really?!!! Is the AU Commission “just learning” that African are dying by the thousands in the Sahara desert from natural and unnatural causes in desperate attempts to reach Europe? How long has this migrant crises been and when did the AU know? After the CNN documentary, I suppose.  Won’t it be better if the AU Commission just take their salaries and stay quiet; as the AU is now most definitely one of the accomplices in the mayhem against Africans by Africans.

Stop the pretense: the migrant crisis is no news in Africa, nor for the AU Commission.

Let’s just call off the AU bluff about the body just “learning” of horrific crimes against Africans desperate to reach Europe. Scores of people “auctioned off” in Libya (even as hundreds more are kept in sub-human conditions) is certainly horrible new, but these, at least, are still alive (howbeit in slavery). Others fared much worse, they are now part of the sordid statistics detailed in the Missing Migrants’ Report published annually by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). For example, since 2014, Africans constitute at least 33% of all migrant deaths reported worldwide – 8124 deaths out of 24622 (source: IOM Missing Migrants Project, http://missingmigrants.iom.int/ ). Of course this figure (33%) is an underestimation because it does not include the 41% deemed as of “unknown origin”.  Africans are definitely part of those classified as unknown, thus when fully accounted for, Africans, as a continent, accounts for no less than 50% of reported migrant deaths. You can tell this situation is bad because Africa consist of only 16% of global population, but definitely accounts for at least 50% of migrant deaths.

Why have the AU and other regional bodies been silent all these years?

As stated earlier, the AU knew about the migrants’ catastrophe all along. It’s sickening for the AU to feign interest, because of this Johnny-come-lately CNN documentary. Like most other transnational crises unfolding in Africa or happening to Africans, the AU prefers to look the other way, or wait for non-Africans to make a move or even [retrogressively] to stand in the way of progress. For example, the AU choses to do precious little about human rights abuses and war crimes in Africa, but prefers to vilify, obstruct and subvert the course of justice when the ICC choses to act against egregious violations of human rights on the continent. They band together to obstruct justice a-la-ICC, but proffers no alternative to curtail crimes against humanity being perpetrated by Africans against Africans. Is the African solution for African mayhem and atrocities , for example, the African Court of Justice? And when will this “judgment day” be? How many must suffer atrocities before life is deemed valuable on the continent?

The EU seems to have a plan for tackling the issue of illegal migration on its Mediterranean doorsteps dubbed the “EU Integrated Political Crisis Response”, which plan embodies interdisciplinary approach to comprehensively deal with the problem. The Aussies have opted for preventive detention in the Pacific, far from the Australian shores. To deal with its migrant problem, the USA is building a wall. As ludicrous as it sounds, a plan (any plan) is still a hundred times better than no plan, which, unfortunately, is the case with the AU. Even if Africa were to mistakenly come up with a plan, they would be looking to Europe, USA and China to finance the “African” plan – just like how they have no compunction in making grandiose speeches on African sovereignty and African solutions in a headquarters paid for and built by China.

As far as the African catastrophe being played out daily in the Mediterranean and North Africa, the AU has long been accused of silence and nonchalance. The EU leaders, apparently, sensing that their counterparts from Africa have no plans, called a meeting in Paris, (08.2017) to lecture the Africans that this must not be business-as-usual. But as of date, I’d very much like to be educated on the African plan. Or perhaps life isn’t so precious in Africa? Meanwhile, as the AU falters, in the African and international media space, there is no shortage of persons and institutions who have taken note of the deafening silence of African leaders, including the below:

But what are Africans so desperate to leave the “motherland”?

For those who live in some of the worst places in Africa, this is an utterly stupid question. I ask this question here because, some of the people who will read this article may not be Africans, and perhaps, quite naturally, would wonder what causes a sane person risk such perilous journey to Europe. For those in this category, I can say definitively that for most parts of Africa, people have lost hope of ever seeing a decent life in their lifetime – in Africa. Certainly! Accordingly, many are seeking solace in miracles or witchcraft – which, in all honesty, is as good as a toss of a coin. And for those who don’t believe in either of the two – the option is to emigrate. There are the legal routes like foreign scholarship and visiting visa (go and never ever return), US Diversity Visa program or 419 love scams, where the African pretends to be in love and marries off an emotionally desperate Caucasian. But these are longshots.  Given the long-shot nature of the available alternatives, many African choose the well-beaten path of hitch-hiking to North Africa and waiting for an opportunity to jump on a boat destined for Europe, any boat – even a leaking one. What difference does it make anyway? One is just as dead in Africa, even though one breathes. In Africa, you can find a 30-35 year-old person who has never ever held a formal job in his/her lifetime and sees no possibility of ever obtaining one – even up to age 60. So many entertain no second thoughts, whatsoever, of taking even the most deadly and daring journey to anywhere where the grass is said to be greener. In these days of instant sharing of photos, one photo of a youth that made it to Europe is enough to motivate hundreds of others to dare. In Liberia it is said – one take risks to enjoy. It’s not only on the folks on Wall Street or the FTSE 100 understands the risk-reward calculus.  Migrants do and are rational actors, even if their rationality seems like Russian roulette to others.

So does the AU Chairperson really want to know perpetrators and accomplices?

In the AU Commission Chairperson’s [18th November 2017] statement, he asked the Libyan government to identify and prosecute perpetrators and accomplices. This is laughable, because the AU [already] knows the perpetrators and accomplices. Instead of feting these perpetrators and accomplices annually at AU meetings, they should be arrested immediately upon setting forth at AU’s China-funded China-built headquarters. Just in case the AU Commission still needs some help in identifying whom to arrest, here are a few pointers:

  • African DESPOTS, the likes of which have been in power for at least 20+ years and have run out of ideas. You can find these in Uganda, Rwanda, Chad, Eritrea, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Burundi, Euatorial Guinea and formally Angola, Gambia, Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe, etc. Why shouldn’t the likes of Mugabes, Bashirs and Afwerkis be arrested for causing the African migrant catastrophe, when there is so much evidence that their draconian regimes are the direct cause of the crisis?
  • African KLEPTOCRATs, the likes of which have grown fantastically rich even as their citizens wallow in abject poverty. You can find these in places like, Nigeria, Angola, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and DR Congo. In fact, minus a few notable countries as Botswana, Namibia, Morocco, virtually all African leaders potentially could be liable to arrest as perpetrators or accomplices as there is ample evidence that looting of national coffers is the primary cause of destitution in Africa.
  • African ELECTION RIGGERS and/or THIRD TERMERS (or better still, life Presidents) – the likes of which you can find in Gabon, Burundi, Uganda, Congo (Brazzaville), Rwanda, Togo,  DR Congo, Cameroun, Equatorial Guinea and many others. The halls of the AU are littered with [election] riggers and third termers – leaving hordes to people to protest via the perilous hike or boat drift to Europe.
  • African GENERALs and WARLORDs, the likes of which have been backing up murderous regimes and/or fighting endless and useless wars all across the continent – in this categories you can find in the two Sudans, Somalia, Mali, Mozambique, Ethiopia, CAR, Burundi, Chad and many others.
  • AU Commission EXECUTIVEs – for having executed numerous protocols, charters, resolutions and understandings that aren’t worth the paper they are written on – for fiddling while Africans “drown” in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. Why search for accomplices, when each time, instead of standing for the rule of law, you opt for compromise as constitutions are butchered and elections rigged? You wine and dine with the Mugabes, Biyas, the Kagames and the Bongos and [knowingly] shifts blame on neocolonialism! You, the AU executives, are exactly what you search for: accomplices!

I think it’s a waste of time for the AU to be looking or perpetrators and accomplices or asking others to look for same, when the very perpetrators and accomplices wine and dine annually at the AU Chinese-funded Chinese-built Headquarters. Let the AU act on the basis of the available evidence and arrest these people when they show up for meetings. This isn’t astrophysics, is it?

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About Cholo Brooks 5295 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists.