African immigration to Europe
African immigrants to Europe are European citizens and residents born in or with ancestors from Africa. Although immigration from Africa to Europe has increased substantially in recent decades, it is not a recent phenomenon.
With over one million migrants a year and 299,000 asylum applications in 2006 alone, Europe is the primary destination for African migrants worldwide. Migratory flows from Africa currently make up the largest share of migration into Europe. The majority of African migrants living overseas are in Europe, approximately 4.6 million, according to the International Organization for Migration. But the Migration Policy Institute believes there are between seven and eight million irregular African immigrants living in the EU - the actual number changing depending on regularisation schemes in the member states. About two-thirds of Africans in Europe are from North Africa (particularly Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia). An increasing number of immigrants are from Western Africa (mainly Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal).
The Council of Europe records people according to their birthplace and their self-described ancestry, although aggregated data for Africa is split between "Sub-Saharan" and "North Africa". The number of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa in Europe are between 3,5 and 8 million, concentrated mainly in Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.
During the period of 2000-2005, an estimated 440,000 people per year emigrated from Africa, most of them to Europe. The European Union Frontex agency's "Operation Hermes" is monitoring the Mediterranean between North Africa and Italy. Due to increased border controls along the Mediterranean, there has been a shift of preferred migration routes towards Greece.
Current European policies
In 2006, Spain received at least 636,000 migrants, representing almost half of the EU’s total and 122,500 more than the number of migrants arriving in Germany, France, and Britain combined. Recently, Spain has started to recruit legal workers from countries such as Senegal, all while encouraging the adoption of a common EU immigration policy. At the same time, however, it has also attempted to forge broad bilateral accords with African countries that would exchange repatriation for funding to help the returned in France, in 2007, new Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux announced a plan to offer monetary incentives for legal immigrants to return to Africa, and President Nicolas Sarkozy established the controversial Ministry of Immigration (ABC), Integration, National Identity and Co-development. France has the largest Muslim population in Europe, an estimated 5 million, many from northern Africa, and national identity was one of Sarkozy's campaign themes in the spring of 2007.
Europe wants to reject illegal immigration. The European Union is exploring the establishment of legal job centers across Africa. Portugal, during its EU presidency, has declared the need for a “realistic” immigration policy that will take into account the need for economic migration.
With respect to migration, cooperation between the EU and Africa will involve the establishment of a network of Africa-based migration observatories which will collect, analyse and disseminate information on migration flows within Africa and between Africa and the EU. Special attention will be given to the skilled labour issue. It will encourage the movement of skilled labour through the creation of partnerships between European and African institutions such as universities and hospitals. Finally, in order to offer Africans a genuine alternative to migration to Europe, the partnership will focus on creating more and better jobs in Africa, particularly in the formal economy.
Illegal immigration from Africa to Europe is significant. Many people from poor African countries embark on the dangerous journey for Europe, in hopes of a better life. In parts of Africa, particularly Mauritania and Morocco, trafficking of immigrants to Europe has become more lucrative than drug trafficking. But some illegal immigrants die during the journey and most of them who do not get asylum get deported back to Africa. Libya is also a major departure point for irregular migrants setting off for Europe.
Between October 2013 and October 2014, the Italian government ran Operation Mare Nostrum, a naval and air operation intended to reduce irregular immigration to Europe and the incidence of migratory ship wreckages off the coast of Lampedusa. The Italian government ceased the operation as it was judged to be unsustainable, involving a large proportion of the Italian navy. The operation was replaced by a more limited joint EU border protection operation, named Operation Triton managed by the EU border agency, Frontex. Some other European governments, including Britain's, argued that the operations such as Mare Nostrum and Triton serve to provide an "unintended pull factor" encouraging further migration.
The issue returned to international headlines in April 2015. International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates suggest that between the start of 2015 and the middle of April, 21,000 migrants had reached the Italian coast and 900 migrants had died in the Mediterranean. Critics of European policy towards irregular migration in the Mediterranean argue that the cancellation of Mare Nostrum failed to deter migrants and that its replacement with Triton "created the conditions for the higher death toll".
Some of the larger populations of immigrants from Africa living in Europe are:
- Abdi Yusuf Hassan
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali
- Hanan Ibrahim
- John Godson
- Jomo Kenyatta
- Joshua Nkomo
- Canaan Banana
- Magdi Allam
- Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar
- Najat Vallaud-Belkacem
- Nyamko Sabuni
- Peter Hain
- Rama Yade
- Didier Drogba
- Gerald Asamoah
- Mo Farah
- Samuel Eto'o
- Serge Ibaka
- Vincent Kompany
- Dereck Chisora
- African Australian
- Afro-New Zealander
- African immigration to the United States
- African immigration to Latin America
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