Koenders concludes migrant return agreement with Mali for EU

On Sunday Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders concluded a joint coomuniqué on behalf of the EU that will see more irregular Malian migrants in Europe returned to their country of origin. Mr Koenders signed a joint communiqué in the Malian capital Bamako on deepening the migration partnership  between the EU and Mali. This is the first time that the EU has adopted such specific agreements with an African country on the return of failed asylum seekers. ‘This is only possible if there’s trust and respect. But it needs to be done. Because it’s only by working together in this way that we can tackle the root causes of irregular migration,’ said Mr Koenders following the negotiations.

The partnership will create a large number of initiatives in specific regions of Mali to help young Malians into employment. The EU is also helping to increase the capacity of Mali’s security services and step up cooperation with neighbouring countries in tackling people smuggling networks and improving border management. ‘Young people have a great role to play in their country’s future,’ said Mr Koenders. ‘We must prevent Malians from dying or falling victim to people smugglers on the way to North Africa or Europe.’

The partnership sets out engagements for identifying irregular Malian migrants in Europe and providing them with the documents needed to return to their country of origin. In the period ahead, Malian officials will visit various EU member states to help ascertain migrants’ nationalities. This should speed up returns. The communiqué also sets out engagements for tackling people smuggling networks and the root causes of migration.

Mr Koenders travelled to Mali, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire on behalf of the EU during the Dutch EU Presidency in April in order to reach political agreements on tackling flows of migrants from West Africa. This time around, the minister was invited back to Mali by foreign minister Abdoulaye Diop and represented the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. ‘I am grateful to the Malian authorities for their willingness to make these agreements with the EU,’ said Mr Koenders. ‘Since our meeting in April, both parties have translated the agreements into action. So we now have every reason to step up our cooperation.’

On Monday Mr Koenders will present the communiqué that he concluded in Mali on Sunday to the EU foreign ministers in Brussels and report his findings to them.