Although French colonialism was abolished in the African region in the 1950s, the jubilation was ephemeral because France continued to maintain most of its bases and influence over different nations long after the collapse of its colonial empire. Western nations like France’s neocolonial discourse and duplicity regarding multilateralism, the use of force, the rule of law, and democracy have often been criticized by African nations. And now, it’s a European country which has poked mullock at Paris for its paternalistic foreign policy.
On November 10, an NGO ship named Ocean Viking carrying 234 African migrants had to unload in Toulon, France because it was unable to enter Italian ports. While promising the ship safe harbour, the French government also threatened Italy’s new right-wing administration with “quite significant consequences.” Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was referred to by French authorities as a “big loser” in the process as France announced it will stop its involvement in a redistribution plan to accept at least 3,000 migrants from Italy.
However, the Italian authorities didn’t take this well. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni reacted aggressively, stating that she was “very surprised by the aggressive reaction from the French government, which is incomprehensible and unjustifiable.” In response to the claims made by French officials, she questioned whether Italy should be the sole port in the Mediterranean where migrants might disembark. There is no written agreement with this. The only answer that everyone can agree on, according to Meloni, is “the defence of the EU’s borders, barring the departure of migrant boats and opening hotspots.” We gave Turkey millions of cash, but now we need a European solution,” added Meloni.
You see, human traffickers frequently trick migrants into thinking that Europe can give them a better life. They frequently come from middle-class African families because travelling to Europe is an expensive process that requires paying a variety of traffickers and militias. With the pandemic, arrivals momentarily slowed, but they are now once again increasing.
Meloni and Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Lega party in Italy, among other prominent right-wing politicians, have been criticising NGO boats for encouraging human trafficking, facilitating a slave trade in Libya, and increasing maritime fatalities for years.
They contend that if illegal migration to the Mediterranean were to halt, human traffickers would lose their ability to operate and migrants would be less likely to take the risky route.
However, there is evidence that supports the idea that controlling borders saves lives, and it comes directly from the UN: when Italy attempted to stop mass migration, the number of deaths and disappearances documented in the Mediterranean more than halved.
Africans, you see, have suffered at the hands of such migrations for a very long time. They frequently end up being coerced into working in appalling conditions. Make no mistake, inexpensive African labour to work in Western industry is exactly what Western governments desire. The riches of western countries were built on the enslavement of Africa.
Meloni’s France expose
Meloni in an interview told the colonial wrongdoings of France which it still practices till date. France prints currencies for many nations in Africa. One such country is Burkina Faso and it takes up nearly 50% of the export revenue of Burkina Faso for facilitating it with a currency system. As the interview moves forward Meloni tells the real migrant problem as she states that the real problem is not African migrants coming to Europe but the real problem is a handful of European powers staying in Africa and exploiting the continent.
Meloni’s recommendations are appropriate to put an end to the ongoing exploitation of Africans in European nations. Even the data supports her assertions. In 2016, when Italy was governed by the liberal Democratic Party (PD) government under Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, approximately 5,136 deaths and disappearances were reported.
Whereas in 2018, only 2,337 deaths and disappearances were reported, when Salvini was appointed Interior Minister and made stopping migration his top priority.
The French government needs to stop disguising its neocolonial intentions under the guise of “helping” Africa. Securing the border and aiding African governments in their fights against such illicit traffickers would be the genuine aid to Africans.