Interview: How the EU is shaping migration policy in Ethiopia
The EU has an interest in ensuring refugees settle in Ethiopia rather than seeking asylum in Europe and spends millions on this and other migration aims, says researcher Kiya Gezahegne. But what impact is this having on Ethiopia’s domestic migration politics and on migrants themselves?
The impact of EU migration policy now stretches far beyond the Union’s actual territorial borders, with billions of euros invested in efforts to control and curb mobility from and between African and Middle Eastern states – also known as border ‘externalisation’. Such initiatives are profoundly impacting the lives of migrants themselves as well as entire political and policy-making landscapes within the countries from which they move.
Emigration from Ethiopia has risen dramatically in recent years, while the country serves as a central hub for people journeying across the Horn of Africa, particularly migrants from Eritrea and Somalia aiming to reach Europe and other northern destinations. This makes Ethiopia an important partner country for the EU, which has invested over 330 million euros since 2016 in projects addressing what it calls the ‘root causes of displacement and irregular migration’ within and from Ethiopia.
Kiya Gezahegne is a lecturer in Social Anthropology at Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia). Her research includes ethnographic work on Ethiopian migrants in the Middle East, livelihoods at the Ethiopia-Sudan border, and the link between migration and poverty in Ethiopia.
These initiatives form part of a broader Emergency Trust Fund for the Horn of Africa, which seeks to curb and manage mobility throughout the region. Trust Fund projects in Ethiopia range from so-called ‘information campaigns’ aiming to educate migrants on the risks associated with irregular migration, to training on border management for government staff and security forces.
In this interview, Alice Troy-Donovan discusses how the EU is externalising its borders into Ethiopia with Kiya Gezahegne, a researcher on the interdisciplinary project Effects of Externalisation: EU Migration Management in Africa and the Middle East (EFFEXT).