Last Friday, the European Union and Niger announced they had strengthened their cooperation with the launch of an operational partnership to tackle migrant smuggling.
Joint efforts under this partnership will help to save lives, disrupt the business model used by criminal networks, prevent migrants from becoming victims of violence and exploitation and protect their fundamental rights, the EU statement read.
The EU said combatting migrant smuggling is a shared challenge that requires robust cooperation and coordination with key partner countries along migration routes, in line with the EU’s overarching approach to migration.
Located at the heart of the Sahel, it said that Niger has for decades been at the crossroads of migration flows to North and West Africa and to the EU, as well as a destination country for migrants. The country has made considerable efforts to tackle migrant smuggling, helping to evacuate individuals affected from Libya and ensuring a dignified return home for irregular migrants. Niger and the European Union have worked together as trusted partners in the Sahel region and have been involved in several joint initiatives addressing wider migration and security issues, including the challenges of irregular migration, and focusing in particular on efforts to tackle criminal groups operating in the region in the pursuit of profit.
Now, the constructive cooperation between Niger and the European Union and the strong mutual commitment to stepping up joint efforts to address migration and security risks and the consequences of irregular migration are moving up a gear, from both an operational and a political point of view. The operational partnership to tackle migrant smuggling is a response to shared needs and sets out to achieve common objectives, based on the renewed EU Action Plan against Migrant Smuggling (2021-2025).