15 December 2023 – On 18 December 2023, International Migrants Day, activists across Africa and Europe taking part in the Abolish Frontex International Action Day will draw attention to the havoc wreaked on African countries by the EU’s obsession with stopping migration and demand an end to Frontex’s engagement on the continent.
Recent investigations revealed that the European Border and Coast Guard agency Frontex systematically shares the coordinates of migrant boats with a Libyan militia accused of war crimes. The militia has kidnapped more than 1000 people on the move since May this year and forcibly returned them to Libya, where they are tortured, subjected to forced labour and ransom payments.
Frontex’s ongoing cooperation with Libyan border guards, despite years of reports of the horrendous situation for people on the move in the country, is just one example of the immense suffering caused by the externalisation of EU borders to Africa. Frontex is active in more than 30 African countries with its engagement ranging from intelligence gathering and training police forces to actively negotiating status agreements with Senegal and Mauritania. These would enable armed Frontex officers to perform executive tasks such as conducting border checks, preventing people from entering the countries if they do not have the right papers, and conducting deportations. Reportedly, the planned status agreement with Senegal is supposed to include legal immunity for Frontex officers from persecution for crimes they commit during their work.
Kim, Abolish Frontex spokesperson, says: “With our action day we denounce the violent and racist EU border policies that have killed thousands of people on the move in the last decade and severely harmed African communities. The recent revelations about Frontex’s cooperation with Libya show that nothing has changed after Hans Leijtens, the new director, took over. Frontex cannot be reformed, it must be abolished.”
Frontex’s expanding role in Africa is just one of the many aspects of Europe’s border externalisation efforts on the continent. The EU, its member states and other European countries have enlisted a multitude of African countries to act as its outpost border guards. This includes donations of billions of euros and much surveillance and other border security equipment to and training of border, security and military forces of often authoritarian regimes.
The Abolish Frontex network was launched in June 2021 to connect and strengthen protests against the EU’s deadly border regime. Over 130 organisations and groups in EU countries and beyond have joined the informal network that strives for freedom of movement for everyone. The last action day on 20 June 2023, World Refugee Day, had seen activists in more than 20 cities across three continents take action to Abolish Frontex and end the EU border regime – this time actions in at least 6 countries in Europe and Africa are expected.