Visit to Africa

Tackling the root causes of displacement, giving people new opportunities for the future

Minister Müller visits Egypt and Eritrea

Federal Minister Müller in talks with the Egyptian president Abdelfattah Al-Sisi

Press release of 14.12.2015 |

German Development Minister Gerd Müller left today for a three-day visit to Egypt and Eritrea. His visit will be focusing on the current refugee crisis. Egypt is a transit country for many migrants on their way to Europe. Eritrea is the number one country of origin of African refugees in Germany.

Speaking in Cairo, Minister Müller said: "If we want to tackle the root causes of displacement, we need to direct our efforts to the places of origin of large numbers of refugees, even if this proves difficult. The point is to achieve peaceful and stable development in the region. Young people in particular need prospects of a good future in their home countries – education, training and jobs. If these do not exist, they will leave for Europe."

The Minister's first stop will be the capital of Egypt, Cairo. In his meeting with President Abdelfattah Al-Sisi, he will discuss, among other things, openings for closer cooperation on "dual" (school-based and company-based) vocational training in Egyptian enterprises. In a region beset by conflict and instability, origin of a large proportion of the refugees coming to Europe, Egypt is an important partner for Germany. The BMZ is supporting the country's economic development, especially by creating jobs for young people. The rate of youth unemployment in Egypt is 40 per cent.

In the afternoon, Minister Müller will travel on to the Eritrean capital, Asmara, where he will explore openings for tackling the root causes of displacement. Many people are leaving Eritrea because of poverty, a lack of opportunities, and a difficult human rights situation. For example, there is only limited freedom to exercise fundamental rights such as the freedom of speech and opinion and the freedom of assembly and of religion. The main cause that drives most Eritrean refugees from their home country is the national military and labour service, which is de facto open-ended.

In anticipation of his departure for Eritrea, Minister Müller said, "We can assist Eritrea in stopping the exodus of its young people by improving living conditions on the ground and, if possible, giving them the prospect of opportunities if they return. We are offering a dialogue and exploring openings for assistance, for instance in the field of vocational training. However, this will only be an option if the Eritrean government introduces economic and political reforms and improves the human rights situation."

During his exploratory visit, Minister Müller will meet with President Isaias Afewerki and talk to representatives of the business community, unions, and youth and women's organisations. He will also visit an international surgery centre for children and the country's largest training institution for engineers.

Development cooperation between Germany and Eritrea was ended in 2007. The work of non-governmental organisations in Eritrea is subject to significant restrictions as well. However, in the past few months the Eritrean government has indicated increased interest in better international cooperation, particularly with Germany.

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