By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
The “root causes” of poverty and instability must be tackled to prevent migrants from Africa risking their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe, a senior African Union figure said on Tuesday.
Speaking in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, AU Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said the only solution to trans-Mediterranean migration was an end to conflict, natural disaster and poverty generally.
An “increase in mafia groups and terrorism” -- in reference to Libya -- were also contributing factors, he added.
More than 5,000 Africans met their deaths in the Mediterranean while attempting to reach Europe in 2016 alone according to data by the International Organization for Migration and other humanitarian agencies.
Also at Tuesday’s event was visiting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel who said: “We can make sure that they [migrants] live under decent circumstances and keep them from being victims of criminals.”
Gabriel also cited Turkey -- a country which hosts three million Syrian refugees -- as a good example.
While agreeing on the need to address the root causes of migration, Gabriel emphasized the need to set up camps at transit sites.
The German foreign minister also announced a doubling of drought emergency funding to Somalia to 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
The East African country will once again be under the spotlight during an upcoming International Conference on Security in Somalia to be held in London on May 11.