SHARE
COPY LINK

IMMIGRATION

Merkel arrives in Senegal on Africa tour aimed at stemming illegal migration

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Senegal Wednesday, at the start of a West African tour, with Berlin hoping that development of the continent will help stem migration and boost the fight against jihadism.

Merkel arrives in Senegal on Africa tour aimed at stemming illegal migration
Angela Merkel and Macky Sall. Photo: DPA

Signalling that Germany means business, Merkel was accompanied by around a dozen German business leaders.

In Ghana, Merkel plans to visit a start-up hub and in Nigeria she will meet with Ecowas head Jean-Claude Kassi Brou.

On her arrival in Dakar late Wednesday the German leader was greeted by Senegalese president Macky Sall and a guard of honour by dozens of Senegalese marines.

After the playing of the national anthems, the military orchestra belted out two popular German songs, including “Schoene Maid, hast Du heut' fur mich Zeit”, which roughly translates to “Beautiful maiden, do you have time for me today?”

Joining Sall at a joint news conference at the presidential palace, Merkel then spoke of the need to tackle illegal migration and people traffickers.

“We must not be the accomplices of the human traffickers and we must not just watch,” Merkel said.

“We have to fight illegal migration on the one hand, on the other hand we have to create legal opportunities.”

Sall, who announced the solar electrification of 300 villages thanks to German funding, deplored the fate of migrants losing their lives “across the Sahara and Mediterranean” and called for “solutions and opportunities” for African youth in Africa itself.

“It is not the vocation of African youth to die in the Mediterranean or on the rivers of Europe or to live clandestinely,” he said, denouncing the “networks of traffickers and criminals” making money out of them.

Merkel has placed a strong focus on African diplomacy in recent years, and has called on African countries to do their bit in stemming the flow of migrants to Europe – an issue over which she faces criticism at home.

Like China and more recently Britain's Theresa May, export-nation Germany is also eagerly eyeing the burgeoning economic potential of resource-rich African nations with young, dynamic citizens.

British Prime Minister May on Wednesday held talks with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on the second leg of her maiden Africa tour, aimed at drumming up post-Brexit trade deals outside the European Union.

Senegal is enjoying economic growth of around seven percent annually, while equally booming Ghana is seen as a haven of stability in the region.

Nigeria, despite grappling with a Boko Haram insurgency and oil price volatility, remains Germany's second-biggest trade partner in sub-Saharan Africa.

The push for closer economic ties is part of a wider bid to help stabilise African countries in the long run, offering youngsters opportunities at home in the hope of dissuading them from setting off for Europe.

Senegalese, Ghanaians and Nigerians are among the thousands of migrants trying their luck in Europe, even though their chances of winning asylum are slim. In July alone, nearly 950 Nigerians applied for asylum in Germany.

A German government official speaking ahead of Merkel's trip said it was important to “stop people from making the illegal and extremely dangerous journey to Europe”.

Instead, efforts should be focused on legal methods of entry in Europe, for example for young Africans who study in the EU and then put their education to use at home, the official added.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: How do you meet the requirements for a sambo visa?

In Sweden, a sambo is domestic partner – someone you’re in a relationship with and live with, but to whom you aren’t married. If you, as a non-EU citizen, are in a sambo relationship with a Swedish citizen, you can apply for a residence permit on the basis of that relationship. But meeting the requirements of that permit is not always straightforward.

Reader question: How do you meet the requirements for a sambo visa?

An American reader, whose son lives with his Swedish partner, wrote to The Local with questions about the maintenance requirement her son and his partner must meet in order to qualify for a sambo resident permit.

“Their specific issue is that they meet the requirements for a stable relationship and stable housing, but have been told that qualifying for a sambo visa based on savings is unlikely,” she wrote, asking for suggestions on how to approach this issue. Her son’s partner is a student with no income, but whose savings meet maintenance requirements. But, they have been told by lawyers that Migrationsverket will likely deny the application based on the absence of the Swedish partner’s income.

How do relationships qualify for sambo status?

In order to apply for a residence permit on the basis of a sambo relationship, you and your partner must either be living together, or plan to live together as soon as the non-Swedish partner can come to Sweden. Because this reader’s son is already in Sweden as a graduate student, he can apply for a sambo permit without having to leave the country, provided that his student permit is still valid at the time the new application is submitted.

The Migration Agency notes that “you can not receive a residence permit for the reason that you want to live with a family member in Sweden before your current permit expires”. So once your valid permit is close to expiration, you can apply for a new sambo permit.

What are the maintenance requirements for a sambo permit?

The maintenance requirements for someone applying for a sambo permit fall on the Swedish partner, who must prove that they are able to support both themselves and their partner for the duration of the permit. This includes both housing and financial requirements.

In terms of residential standards that applicants must meet, they must show that they live in a home of adequate size – for two adult applicants without children, that means at least one room with a kitchen. If rented, the lease must be for at least one year.

The financial requirements are more complicated. The Swedish partner must be able to document a stable income that can support the applicant and themselves – for a sambo couple, the 2022 standard is an income of 8,520 kronor per month. This burden falls on the Swedish partner.

While the Migration Agency’s website does say that you may “fulfil the maintenance requirement (be considered able to support yourself) if you have enough money/taxable assets to support yourself, other persons in your household and the family members who are applying for a residence permit for at least two years”, it is unclear how proof of this would be documented. On a separate page detailing the various documents that can be used to prove that maintenance requirements are met, there is nothing about how to document savings that will be used to support the couple.

Can you apply on the basis of savings instead of income?

Well, this is unclear. The Migration Agency’s website does suggest that having enough money saved up to support both members of the sambo relationship is an option, but it gives no details on how to document this. It is also unclear whether applying on the basis of savings will disadvantage applicants, with preference given to applicants who can show proof of income from work.

The Local has reached out to an immigration lawyer to answer this question. 

SHOW COMMENTS