As Félix Houphouet Boigny, the Ivorian founding father said once: « A hungry man is not a free man, cause poverty and hunger prevent him to overcome basic needs of life, to behave like a sensible man. » Appaling levels of poverty, an ensuing economic crisis and wars that the world is experiencing currently in the 21th century and that has led to a huge European refugee crisis from an African point of view, is the consequence of the failure of the political, economic and cultural world order sponsored by United States of America.
The failure of the IMF’s policies & Europe’s refugee crisis
Indeed, the failure of financial and economic reforms induced and at times almost imposed by the IMF and World Bank in developing countries since 1990 have worsened the social conditions of people in developing countries, particularly in Africa. These reforms inspired by ultra liberalism through several privatizations have weakened African States considerably, preventing them to assume their basic economic and social duties towards their populations so the common rationale. Therefore, these weak African States, unable to get the grip politically and economically on their own population, as the famous american economist Joseph Stiglitz used to say, are some of the weak links of the world chain.
All that was needed for this explosive configuration was just a small trigger element to explode, and this element appears to be the struggle for global leadership between the USA on the one hand and Vladimir Putin’s new Russia project on the other hand.
Gaddafi contained Europe’s refugee crisis in the past
It’s well known in Africa that Muammar Gaddafi, the late Libyan leader, was the key element in the containment system of African migrants. For, this migrant phenomenon isn’t something new since poverty in Africa has always urged people to desert their homeland trying to make a living in Europe. However, while Gaddafi was still in power North African (Arab) countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Lybia) exetered some form of control over it.
But having liquidating the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has left the Libyan territory somewhat in a state of anarachy and thus has completely destabilized the containment system of refugees formed by North African States. What is worse, jihadist networks such as « Al Qaeda » in this area of Africa have seized this chaotic situation in Libya. They did not only take over weapon deposits from Libya, but also entered among the ‘refugee business’ in order to finance their own cause ultimately leading to further destabilization of North African countries. As a result, today the regimes of those countries more concerned with their own survival than with Europe’s current refugee crisis since.
Since then, African people in this context with all the gates toward their ‘el dorado Europe’ seemingly open are massively taking their chance to seek a better future in Europe. Some Europeans don’t understand the motives of these migrants who are ready to risk their lives just to reach Europe and earn their part of the European dream.
But it’s quite simple, the failure of IMF and World Bank restructural econominc and financial reforms and the privatizations inspired by ultra liberalism have created more poverty and today these desperate people knowing their governments are unable to assume their responsabilities toward them, are resorting to any kind of solutions to build a bright future for them and their family. And Gaddafi’s downfall in Libya enabled them further. Obviously, it’s a gamble to board a boat to Europe, but if you lack economic opportunities and are fighting for your family’s economic survival you might not have much of a choice. In their mind, they are already dead in their own countries so it’s better to try the gamble because there is at least a small chance that they might succeed in reaching their goal.
Many African observers refer the phenomenon of Europe’s refugee crisis back to being one of the consequence of the new geopolitical configuration in which Western governments ever so clearly oppose Vladimir Putin’s Russia and his allies. In any case from an Ivorian perspective the problem is real and only real economic and social measures from the international society in developing countries can settle Europe’s refugee crisis.
An Interview with an Ivorian politican about Europe’s refugee crisis:
1) How do African governments plan to react to this crisis? Are they supporting those refugees in their plans to reach europe or would they want them to stay in Africa?
“African governements are unable to react to Europe’s refugee crisis since they can’t solve the problem of unemployment. In the Ivorian case for instance, I can tell you, the rate of unemployment is above 80% for students with universities degrees and 40% for those with professional degrees. These figures show the drama of unemployment in a country where more than 70% of the Ivorian population are less than 35 years old. What makes matters worse, young entrepreneurs that would be willing to start their own SME do not have access to bank loans either. It’s almost the same reality in other Sub-Saharian countries and also in the Arab countries in the North of Africa. In our opinion the main reason for the Arab Spring is unemployment. I can not say that African governements are supporting those refugees when they pack their bags to board a boat on a risky journey to Europe, but I’m sure of one thing, they do nothing to prevent them from leaving.
2) Quadafi has been mentioned as a key element in containing Europe’s refugee crisis in the past from an Ivorian perspective. Can you please elaborate in how he did contain Europe’s refugee crisis? By which means did he achieve that successfully in your opinion?
“As you know, order is a key element to settle problems, that’s why your famous citizen Max Weber in his theory regarding the state mentioned:”Violence is the perogative of states”. Even if I disagree with some of Quadafi’s methods and policies, we have to acknowledge he has established order in a chaotic country where tribes were fighting each others for decades. Unfortunately, the fact of liquidating this dictator without planning an efficient transition to set up real democratic institutions has been the failure of NATO forces. Today, there is not government or proper rule of law in Lybia that’s to say there is anarchy in which the country is divided by armed groups (often radical jihadists) that rule the part of territory their weapons allow them to control. In this chaos, as you know, terrorists and smugglers get a boon to run their businesses.
One element that we must not forgot is the fact that Quadafi’s welfare system was one of the best welfare system in the world, superior to that of Scandinavia countries even because of Libya’s oil and gas revenues. This welfare system has obliged Quadafi to set up a containment system to prevent migrants to enter his prosperous country. So in terms of experience, Quadaif was a key person in the containment system regarding Europe’s refugee crisis. With his death, the gates are open now and there seems no end in sight.
3) The destructive role of the IMF/World Bank which has been mentioned. It would be good to hear your thoughts on this matter, but also your perception about the role of corrupt African leaders in Africa’s economic crisis?
“Of course corrupt African leaders share responsability regarding poverty and lack of economic activity, but as it has been proven sociologically by the famous French sociologist Emile Durkheim and others sociologists, poverty is the main root of corruption. The problem with the IMF and the World Bank is the fact of them imposing economic and financial solutions that are appropriate perhaps for developed countries but not for developing countries. I think the video of our late president Félix Houphouet Boigny is the perfect illustration of this wrong policies of economic and financial restructurations. In this video, our late president in a press conference with the late French president François Mitterand, is complaining because the price of cocoa and coffee have been reduced to 50% disregarding the fact our weak budget depend on these raw materials. If you watch this video properly you’ll well understand why Africans accuse the IMF and the World Bank for the current stalemate and crisis. Based on our perception here in Africa you can’t impose ultra liberal measures on developing countries that are without proper industries, and at the same moment reducing the price of the raw materials on which their survival is based. It’s like expropriating a farmer of his land and pretending to help him to fight hunger. That’s why, we say African corruption is an excuse. One really has to wonder what the true intentions of the IMF and the World Bank are. Even their so called experts must have realized by now that their ‘assistance’ just leads to more disasters and yet they continue their same policies and projects.”