The UK is not the only country to “outsource” its migrants abroad

The United Kingdom has adopted a new law allowing the sending abroad of migrants who have arrived illegally on its territory since January 1. London has already reached an agreement with Kigali for them to be received in Rwanda. In exchange, the land of a thousand hills will receive 144 million euros. This desire to outsource migration management is not new, and several countries are already applying it.

The best-known example is Australia, which has implemented a policy called the “Pacific solution” since 2001. This consists of preventing migrants from entering the national territory, by relegating them to detention centres. transit on the island of Nauru and on the naval base of Lambrum, in Manus, in Papua New Guinea. This policy was repealed in 2007, but many migrants are still stuck on these islands.

“barbaric” conditions

This policy has been widely criticized because of the conditions “barbarians” imposed on asylum seekers in these detention centres, according to the Transnational Institute, an international think tank. In 2019, at least 26 suicide attempts were recorded in Manus.

People recognized as refugees will then not be able to settle in Australia, but only in Papua New Guinea, Nauru or Cambodia. For the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Australia seeks to “escaping its international obligations”and in particular the Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees.

In exchange for this reception, the island of Nauru receives significant subsidies from Canberra. As for the United Kingdom with Rwanda, the management of migrants by a third nation is carried out in exchange for money. A dynamic that is also found in the policy of the European Union.

Brutality, slavery, torture

The case of Libya is “particularly appalling”, underlines the Transnational Institute. The country, at war for more than ten years, continues to receive financial support from the European Union despite the many “evidence of brutality, slavery, torture and murder”.

Little by little, the European Union is establishing migratory borders further and further from the continent. Thus, Brussels encouraged the adoption by Niger of a law allowing the detention of migrants in exchange for development aid. For the Transnational Institute, these policies “perpetuate colonial dynamics” between the EU and host countries.

The best-known example, however, remains that of Turkey. With the increase in migratory flows in 2015, Europe is turning more and more towards a policy of outsourcing the management of migrants. An agreement between Brussels and Ankara on March 8, 2016 provides for Turkey to prevent departures for Europe, in exchange for six billion euros in aid.

A geopolitical blackmail tool

Some European countries stand out by wanting to go even further. Denmark, in particular, has announced that it is following suit in the United Kingdom by passing the Danish Aliens Act, a law allowing the establishment of a detention center for refugees in a third country. Copenhagen has also signed an agreement with Rwanda. This plan to deport migrants abroad would however be illegal under European law, according to researcher Franck Düvell.

The purpose of these policies is to discourage potential migrants. However, they ignore the fact that most of them “go to survive”, according to the Transnational Institute, and that it is therefore impossible to retain them. Moreover, the Western countries that set them up find themselves in contradiction with the imperative of respect for human rights, since they do not ensure that migrants will be treated correctly.

Finally, these policies can be used for geopolitical blackmail. Belarus, which also has an agreement with the EU, used this weapon following the deterioration of its relations with Brussels. In November 2021, Minsk had transported hundreds of refugees to its border with Poland to increase pressure on the Union. A forced displacement that had left at least 12 dead.


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