AU-EU summit opens with calls for "investment" in youth

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-30 00:20:15|Editor: ZD
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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (front) attends the opening ceremony of the 5th African Union-European Union Summit in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, on Nov. 29, 2017. The 5th African Union-European Union Summit started on Wednesday in Abidjan, economic capital of Cote d'Ivoire, with "investing in youth for a sustainable future" as its theme. (Xinhua/Lyu Shuai)

ABIDJAN, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- The 5th African Union-European Union Summit started on Wednesday in Abidjan, economic capital of Cote d'Ivoire, with "investing in youth for a sustainable future" as its theme.

Dozens of European and African leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Jacob Zuma, attended the summit, which takes place as Africa tries to tame high youth unemployment while Europe seeks relief from its migrant crisis and frequent terror attacks.

The meeting will discuss how to create jobs and enhance economic opportunities for Africa's young population, as Europe hopes to see African youths securing jobs in their home countries, thus shunning illegal immigration and terrorist recruitment.

Other partnership priorities to be discussed at the two-day forum include peace and security, governance, investment and trade, and job creation.

Topics of migration and security have dominated the speeches at the opening ceremony, with leaders calling for more jobs and training for African youths and increased funds and support for Africa's fight against terrorism.

"Migration will inevitably be an important part of our relationships in the years to come," said European Council President Donald Tusk.

Calling migration a "joint responsibility," Tusk said: "the worst we can do is to start the blame game."

Africa has 60 percent of its population under the age of 25, a demographic asset that has created a huge labor pool yet to be fully utilized, due to such hurdles as a lack of industrialization. The ensuing high youth unemployment has fueled protests in some African countries and supplied illegal migration to Europe.

Over 100,000 migrants, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, making dangerous trips across the Mediterranean to Europe every year has evolved into a humanitarian crisis in recent years.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said 148,200 migrants and refugees have taken the Mediterranean routes to enter Europe in the first nine months of 2017, and 2,700 people reportedly died in the process. Many others were exposed to abuse, human trafficking and enslavement.

Recent footage showing African migrants being auctioned off like slaves in Libya, a transit hub for Europe-bound migrants, has sent shock waves across Africa, including in Cote d'Ivoire, the host country of the summit. Several African leaders have pressed for the slavery issue to enter the summit's agenda.

Europe, struggling to cope with the migrant influx and a rising anti-immigration sentiment, has called for tackling poverty and unemployment in Africa as the root cause of the uncontrolled immigration.

The summit is held in alternation between both continents, serving as a platform for dialogue between African and European nations. It was also the first time for the summit to be held in sub-Saharan Africa.

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