Libya turns to Pan-African Parliament for solutions on migration challenges


A delegation of the Pan-African Parliament, led by the President of the institution, Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira, is currently taking part in the inaugural Africa-Europe Conference on Migration organised by Libyan authorities in Benghazi from 25 to 27 May 2024 under the theme: “Sustainable Solutions for Migration."

The leadership of the Pan-African Parliament has been invited to contribute insights to enrich consultations aimed at shaping the future of Africa-Europe cooperation on migration issues. During the opening day of the conference, Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira addressed high-level representatives from governments, parliaments, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, decision-makers, as well as experts in migration issues from both African and European countries. He acknowledged the extent of the migration problem and emphasised the need for durable solutions. Hon. Chief Charumbira highlighted the challenges faced by his team in entering Libyan territory due to stringent measures designed to control migration, underscoring the critical importance of the conference.

“Part of the challenges we encountered entering Libya arise from the very reason we are gathered here today, that is, the challenges that Libya has faced with illegal migrants crossing into Italy and Malta. In almost every country in which we transited on our way here, we were repeatedly asked for the “Approval to Board” that ought to have come from the Libyan authorities. Amidst the frustrations and the delays, it dawned on me that I was witnessing first-hand the harsh reality of the impact of illegal migration, even on those with legitimate business in Libya,” said the President of the Pan-African Parliament.

Hon. Chief Charumbira highlighted the correlation between the topic of the conference and the mandate of the legislative arm of the African Union, noting that the issue of migration responds to the objectives of the Parliament. “Doubtless, migration policies impact on human rights issues which the PAP is compelled to promote. Good governance, peace, security and stability can be both push and pull factors in relation to migration and the PAP is obligated to encourage good governance and promote peace on the continent. Migration has also emerged as a serious developmental challenge in contemporary developmental discourse and the PAP is duty-bound to facilitate development on the continent. We, therefore, have an obligation not only to engage in these crucial platforms as the people’s elected representatives but also to come up with legislative and policy interventions both at the continental and national levels that mitigate against illegal migration but also strengthen legal systems to protect the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.”

It is important to note that the Pan-African Parliament is currently working to develop a Model Law on Migration in Africa as a way of contributing to addressing the challenges on this issue. Proposing some of long-term solutions to the migration challenges between Africa and Europe, the leader of the continent’s premier parliamentary forum believes that enhancing Africa’s economic development, creating employment opportunities and reducing the disparities between the North and South, Europe and Africa can jointly disincentivise Africans from crossing the border into Europe. He said: “The obvious reaction has been to tighten border controls and introduce more stringent security measures to stem migration. In doing so, however, I believe we are dealing with the symptoms and not the root cause of the problem. We are prescribing an aspirin for a chronic illness which will continue to fester maybe with even greater ferocity.”

Additionally, Hon. Chief Charumbira said that in committing to silence the guns, the African Union leadership has underscored the nexus between good governance, peace, stability and development and that these concepts are thoroughly intertwined and may not be considered exclusive of each other. “ It is an established fact that threats to peace and security, both the traditional and emerging ones, continue to multiply in various parts of the Continent, thereby fuelling migration. Linked to this challenge, is the persisting external interference in the Continent, particularly in conflict areas and also those areas with strategic natural resources in some cases, often resulting in parallel initiatives or unnecessary prolongation of processes to resolve conflict and the perpetuation of conflict-induced migration. Sadly, some of the external interference has been attributed to European foreign interests in Africa. Europe cannot be part of the problem of instability in Africa and then mourn when that instability results in “rising tides” of migration into Europe. Both Europe and Africa must be part of the solution not the problem. We must work together earnestly and without duplicity to silence the guns in Africa and put brakes on the movement,” remarked Hon. Chief Charumbira.

The Africa-Europe Conference on Migration takes place in the wake of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)’s discovery of at least 65 migrant bodies in a mass grave in Southwestern Libya, believed to have died during smuggling operations. The discovery was made in the Wadi Al-Jahriya, Shuwairif area, about 421 kilometers south of Tripoli. The Pan-African Parliament delegation will take part in the working sessions, which will be a significant step towards a participatory approach. The sessions will cover topics such as regional policies to combat irregular migration, aiming to share successful experiences, lessons learned, improving conditions for refugees and migrants, enhancing cooperation in capacity development, border management, and combating human trafficking.