Should Africans who want to come to Europe legally travel to
EU has spent some £8million (€10 million) on this project aimed at helping Africans find work legally in European countries.
The job centre known as “The Migration Information and Management Centre” (CIGEM) was inaugurated on 6th October in the presence of Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Amadou Toumani Touré, the President of the Republic of Mali, and Brice Hortefeux, the French Minister for Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Cooperative Development.
The centre, which is financed by the EU as part of its development cooperation with Mali, is a pilot project that is to be copied in other West African countries.
Speaking during the inauguration of the centre, Mr. Michel, who played a very active role in setting it up, said: "Instead of demonising the migration phenomenon, it should be supported, structured and managed optimally as a positive human element for both Africa and Europe. The centre paves the way for managing migration flows more effectively and making greater use of the development opportunities provided by migration."
The centre will employ 25 people to provide reception, welcome, information, guidance and support facilities for potential and returning migrants (also with regard to employment and training opportunities in Mali and abroad). They will also carry out research into migration and promote the active role played by Malians living abroad in the development of Mali.
The creation of the job centre was criticised by those who fear that the move would wide open UK’s borders to African workers. Sir Andrew Green, of Migration-watchUK, said: “The establishment in Africa of job centres risks sending the wrong signal unless we ensure that those who ignore the legal ways and come illegally are sent back to the village they came from. We have already opened our labour market to 100million Eastern Europeans. That’s quite enough to be going on with,” the Daily Express reported.
The move was termed “absolutely barmy” by UKIP leader Nigel Farage. He said: “We don’t need tens of thousands of migrant workers from Africa. Britain is already the most densely populated country in Europe with a problem of rising unemployment.”
But the Home Office has assured that the British labour market would not be affected by the job centre because the country is not a signatory to the Schengen Agreement. A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “The Mali centre is an EU initiative aimed at promoting legal migration routes to the Schengen area of the EU which the UK opted out of. As the UK opted out of elements of Schengen we retain full control over our own borders and our asylum system. We now have one of the toughest borders in the world and we are determined to ensure it stays that way.”
By Stephen Ogongo