Immigration from Africa can be stopped with the right aid and policies: Hungarian MEP

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Hungary has a clear strategy for Africa based on creating livable conditions in sources countries for immigration, maintaining close contact with local organizations in Africa, and helping devise a credible and consistent European assistance program, MEP György Hölvényi writes in his blog

Hölvényi points out that ever since 2015, the Hungary Helps program has served as an example of how to successfully aid African countries at the source. Through the program, Hungary has delivered effective aid by actively consulting with locals, working with Christian aid groups, and building long-term partnerships to improve lives over the long-term.

Hölvényi believes that migration is not a foregone conclusion and that many Africans, with the right support, will choose to remain in their homelands.

“The issue of remaining in place versus pursuing migration is a particularly complex one, but we have managed to achieve progress. This is partly due to our consistent presence and efforts, while also being consistent in the message we convey,” he wrote.

Many NGOs, politicians, and journalists advocate flying migrants directly to Europe. For example, the European Council on Foreign Relations, writes that “refugees [could] be identified near their country of origin and be flown directly to Europe with a temporary visa” and also claimed that if “Europe wants people to stop drowning, it needs to let them fly” to Europe.

Countries like Germany have followed that advice and transported thousands of migrants to the country via airplane, including many during the coronavirus crisis.

This kind of attitude only provides a temporary solution on a small scale and does little to address the reasons people migrate in the first place.

And while some see migration to wealthier countries in Europe as inevitable, Hungary and other countries in Central Europe have taken a different approach. Instead, they argue that solidarity and aid at the source are better than mass migration.

“The message – and essence – of the [Hungary Helps] program is that true solidarity with ‘developing’ countries, a term I hate to use, means to improve living conditions on-site instead of handing out one-way airplane tickets,” writes Hölvényi.

“First we must create security and stability, without which sustainable development is impossible to achieve. In order to provide long-term solutions, we must also invest in education and tuition to help alleviate one of the key problems of African economies: the lack of an educated workforce. An educated workforce in healthcare and other sectors of the economy is instrumental in reinforcing local communities and contribute to building a more stable and sustainable society and economy.”

Hölvényi believes that the European Union must review its development plans, with a targeted development policy focusing on closely cooperating with local institutions, with a particular focus on churches that best represent African society.

“The role of these churches is being recognized even by international organizations such as the World Bank, so the EU should be permitted to change its relationship with these churches,” he writes.

Finally, Hölvényi believes that the fundamental problem of governance in Africa needs to be solved before conditions are truly livable in those countries that serve as sources for migration to Europe.

With the Visegrád countries serving as success stories following the fall of communism, Hölvényi believes they have insight to offer to overcome the transition to stable market-based economies based on democratic principles.

“Transition from dictatorships to democracy is a difficult process. Having been on the ground, I am convinced that the Visegrád countries and other central European states have ample experience with which they can lend assistance to the young African states coping with a multitude of post-colonial traumas.”

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