Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has called on African leaders to stop migration to Europe and fight back against Islamic extremism. She vowed to help with development aid and military equipment to ensure peace and prosperity in Africa. Germany will also make Africa a priority of Germany’s G20 presidency in 2017.
Merkel visited Mali, Niger and Ethiopia during a three-day tour, which ended on 11 October. She promised to build a military base in Niger to support the UN peace mission in Mali, where jihadists have used a civil war to make themselves a base in the north of the country, and offered to help Ethiopia, which recently introduced a state of emergency over protests from ethnic groups clamouring for more inclusion, with training in peaceful conflict resolution.
Rights groups estimate some 500 protesters have been killed by government forces since the beginning of this year. Leading opposition figures had asked the German chancellor to push Ethiopia’s government into releasing political prisoners. Merkel stressed the importance of a “vibrant civic society”.
Prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Ethiopia already hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world. He asked for funds to support the 780,000 people that have sought refuge in his country.
Some EU leaders, including Merkel, have indicated they would like to strike Turkey-style deals with African nations, whereby they would agree to take back rejected asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in exchange for development aid and other favours, such as visa-free travel.
Migration is poised to become a key issue in Germany’s federal elections next year, where the chancellor is expected to seek a fourth term.
Merkel will also host leaders from Chad and Nigeria on 14-15 October in Berlin.