African Union opens 'migration observatory'

The AMO's mission will be to collect, analyse and exchange data across 'an interconnected system' linking African countries to improve migration policies that are 'often ineffective due to a lack of data', according to the inauguration document.

In this file photo taken on 19 February, 2015 migrants sit atop a border fence separating Morocco from the north African Spanish enclave of Melilla in the first attempt to jump since the camp on Mount Gurugu burned down. Picture: AFP

RABAT - The African Migration Observatory, a study platform launched by the African Union to improve migration governance on the continent, was inaugurated on Friday in the Moroccan capital Rabat.

"Today, Africa will have its own data, this will allow us to disprove several myths about migration," said Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita at a ceremony he co-chaired with the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Amira El Fadil.

The AMO's mission will be to collect, analyse and exchange data across "an interconnected system" linking African countries to improve migration policies that are "often ineffective due to a lack of data", according to the inauguration document.

Bourita called the AMO's establishment "a strong message to the international community on the determination of Morocco and Africa to establish better migration governance on the continent".

He added that it will help "demystify" migration issues and deplored the politicisation of the subject.

Fadil said the inauguration "marks the beginning of our efforts towards generating data that is balanced and relevant to the needs of Africa in the field of migration".

Migration in Africa is essentially intra-African, with 80% of migrants from African countries remaining on the continent, and only 12 percent entering Europe - the remainder travelling elsewhere - according to figures released by Rabat in 2018.

South Africa topped the list of intra-African migration destinations, with 3.1 million arrivals, followed by Ivory Coast at 2.1 million and Nigeria, which recorded 1.9 million.

The launch of the AMO was announced in December 2018 in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh, on the sidelines of the adoption of the United Nations Global Compact for Migration.

The AU plans to open two other bodies dedicated to migration, according to Fadil: the African Centre for the Study and Research on Migration in Bamako, Mali and the Continental Operational Centre in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

The regulation of migration, especially from Africa, has become a major concern of the European Union after the influx of more than one million migrants in 2015.

The tightening of EU border controls has led to a sharp drop in irregular entries.

They were down 92% in 2019, compared to the peak in 2015, and down 14 percent over the first eight months of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019, according to the European agency Frontex.

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