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Saturday, March 2, 2024

European Border Authorities Discuss Cooperation with Arab and African Counterparts

Participants at the first-ever Euro-Arab Border Security Conference discussed border protection, the fight against migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings, and organized crime.

On December 1-2, the border management authorities of the European Union and the League of Arab States gathered in the first-ever Euro-Arab Border Security Conference in Amman, Jordan, to discuss how to strengthen dialogue and cooperation in response to global challenges.

The conference was a joint initiative of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, and the General Secretariat of the Arab Interior Ministers’ Council (AIMC) of the League of Arab States (LAS), and was held under the patronage of the Prime Minister of Jordan, Mr Bisher Al Khasawneh, represented by Minister of Interior and the Public Security Directorate. The event brought together senior representatives from over 40 states, relevant EU and the LAS bodies, as well as representatives of international organizations.

In his opening speech, Jordan’s Minister of Interior H.E. Mr Mazin Abdellah Hilal Al Farrayeh emphasised that border control is a significant common challenge and the need to galvanize cooperation within a Euro-Arab framework in addition to exchanging experiences and knowledge.

The EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Mr Olivér Várhelyi, reaffirmed the EU’s continued commitment to closely cooperate with the Arab partners on border protection, fight against migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings as well as organized crime.

In line with these priorities, the participants have gathered to build trust and expand networks between the border authorities of the two regions, especially with regards to addressing common challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and sharing experiences of the effective and efficient use of new technologies to facilitate mobility while ensuring the security of communities.

Executive Director of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, said Europe and the Arab countries do not only share common borders and security concerns, but also a duty to protect citizens and communities.

H.E. Dr Mohamed Bin Ali Koman, Secretary-General of the AIMC, praised the cooperation with Frontex and EU agencies especially in the context of common criminal threats, such as terrorism, drug trafficking, and illegal migration. 

The conference was organized in the broader framework of the high-level strategic dialogue to develop Euro-Arab operational cooperation on security issues. The dialogue was initiated in 2015 and reiterated during the summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in 2019, where the leaders of the Member States of the EU and the League of Arab States agreed to strengthen their existing strategic partnership and cooperation.

The conference is a flagship activity of the EU4BorderSecurity project, funded by the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) and implemented by Frontex, with an objective to enhance border security and integrated border management in the Southern Mediterranean.

In addition, The fifth plenary meeting of the Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC) took place on 30 November-1 December in Dakar, Senegal, bringing together representatives from the 29 African countries participating in the risk analysis network.

The participants discussed the state of play of the various activities taking place within the AFIC network, results achieved, and planned actions for next year. They also exchanged views on regional and international risk analysis cooperation in the fight against cross-border crime and terrorism, and shared their respective countries’ responses to migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings.

Results achieved within the AFIC network this year include:

  • Organizing a regional workshop to present the case of a successful cooperation by Sierra Leonean and Gambian authorities to dismantle a human trafficking network operating between the countries. The workshop gathered over 55 representatives from the AFIC countries as well as experts in fighting trafficking in human beings from Frontex, Europol and Afripol.
  • Facilitating the exchange of information on the smuggling of migrants taking place between Senegal and the Gambia, as well as on cross-border criminal investigations between Nigerian and Nigerien authorities.
  • Creating a training module for the AFIC members on risk analysis methodology, fundamental rights, as well as on information collection and analysis on illegal firearms related crime.

AFIC was launched in 2010 to promote regular information exchange on migrant smuggling and other border security threats affecting African countries and the EU. It brings together Frontex border security analysts with those of the partner African authorities. A central element of the network are risk analysis cells, run by local analysts trained by Frontex. There are currently five cells operating in Ghana, Gambia, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal, while new ones will soon be set up in other African countries.

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