Friedman gives probably the best description of the problem I’ve seen so far. You don’t stop this kind of migration with a paddle boat, or a warship, particularly if people are ready to sink their boats to be rescued. This needs to be tackled at the source, and fast. The 6 billion euros we gave Erdogan would have done a tremendous job in impoverished communities in Africa, so that they may consider not sending their men to die in the Mediterranean. We should treat the situation as a war – a war on poverty, corruption and climate change, to be tackled at the root, it’s too late by the time people are in the middle of the Mediterranean.
In a city in the Sahara, migrants assemble with hopes of escaping to a better life.
…Says the U.N.’s Barbut, “Desertification acts as the trigger, and climate change acts as an amplifier of the political challenges we are witnessing today: economic migrants, interethnic conflicts and extremism.” She shows me three maps of Africa with an oblong outline around a bunch of dots clustered in the middle of the continent. Map No. 1: the most vulnerable regions of desertification in Africa in 2008. Map No. 2: conflicts and food riots in Africa 2007-2008. Map No. 3: terrorist attacks in Africa in 2012.
All three outlines cover the same territory.
The European Union recently struck a deal with Turkey to vastly increase E.U. aid to Ankara for dealing with refugees and migrants who have reached Turkey, in return for Turkey restricting their flow into Europe.
“If we would invest a fraction of that amount helping African nations combat deforestation, improve health and education and sustain small-scale farming, which is the livelihood of 80 percent of the people in Africa, so people here could stay on the land,” says Barbut, “it would be so much better for them and for the planet.”
Everyone wants to build walls these days, she notes, but the wall we need most is a “green wall” of reforestation that would hold back the desert and stretch from Mali in the west to Ethiopia in the east. “It’s an idea that the Africans themselves have come up with,” she adds. It makes enormous sense.
Out of Africa Part III