Combating the causes of migration

All the versions of this article: [English] [Español] [français]

General States of Migration, 18-21 December, Kayes, Mali.

At the initiative [1] of the Coordination Sans-Papiers 75 (Paris) and the Internationale Coalition of Sans-Papiers and Migrants [2], the General States of Migration (GSM) is being organised from 18 to 21 December 2019 in Kayes, Mali. An important event that will address the multiple causes of migration; the lack of professional opportunities, the frenetic exploitation of natural resources and a fragile political and environmental situation have pushed a whole generation of young Malians to embark on the dangerous path of migration.

By Sebastian Franco (Alter Summit)

There are few places more appropriate than Kayes to organize these General States of Migration. Such an event in a region that has seen so many young women and men leave allows us to question the root causes of migration: widespread impoverishment [3], predatory extractivism - involving land grabbing, pollution and negative impacts on people’s health - and the consequences of climate change [4].

The region is full of raw materials. Gold production in the Kayes region [5], where many mines are established, allows Mali to be a major world exporter of this precious material. But the region also has large deposits of bauxite, iron and lithium in its subsoil.

Despite these enormous resources, the region offers little future to its inhabitants, many of whom are under 25 years old. This educated youth with access to the Internet and mobile phones is attracted by the Western world. All it takes is for thousands of them to go into exile.

A history that repeats itself

This is not a new observation. As early as 1997, the Malian authorities organized the "Kayes Region Development Round Table". But since then, little has changed. The GSM are therefore an opportunity to question the authorities on the follow-up given to this round table and to ask for a real commitment from the Malian state to the development of the region.

Mali is among the countries ranked lowest by the UN in terms of human development index; more than 40% of its population lives in extreme poverty (World Bank). Mali is a poorly diversified economy vulnerable to fluctuations in commodity prices, particularly gold and cotton. Indeed, about 60% of its export revenues come from gold and 20% from cotton.


Mali is a transit country for West African migrants en route to Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya and then Europe. The country has historically been a source of labour for neighbouring countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal) and beyond (Sudan, France, Spain). As such, it is a "strategic partner" of the European Union and its Member States. The EU sends migration liaison officers there as well as to eleven other "priority" partner countries [6].

Mali is part of the Rabat Process, the European policy of Euro-African "dialogue" on migration and development issues. In addition, the country benefits from several projects financed by the European Development Fund or the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. In addition, the European Union is the guarantor of the Peace Agreement signed in 2015.

The EU is a major security partner of Mali. Two EU missions, one military (EUTM Mali) and one civilian (EUCAP Sahel Mali), provide strategic advice and training to Mali’s armed and security forces. Mali also participates in the G5Sahel, a regional cooperation and coordination initiative, one of the main objectives of which is to secure the region. This initiative, although regional, is supported by France, the European Union and more recently the United States.

The General States of Migration, a relevant and coherent initiative

These GSM, by bringing together local populations, elected officials, the diaspora and experts will discuss over 4 days the development issues that determine migration. The aim will be to identify proposals for concrete achievements for the development of the region.

The event will begin with a demonstration on 18 December 2019, International Migration Day. Many workshops will address environmental issues (including the protection of the Falémé River), the need for education and training, agricultural and food issues, mobility and transport, land grabbing or public health, but also regional and European migration policies such as the humanitarian situation at Europe’s doorstep (deaths in the Mediterranean, situation in Libya, etc.).

In addition, several cultural and sporting activities are planned.

[You can support this important initiative by making a donation at the following link:]


[1In partnership with Droits Ici Et Là-bas, Mouvement pour la Dignité et les Droits des Maliens, Réseau des associations pour le développement du bassin du fleuve Sénégal and the Association Malienne de Solidarité et de Coopération Internationale pour le Développement and in collaboration with Malian public entities.

[2Member of Alter Summit

[3Structural adjustment plans, poor governance, Economic Partnership Agreement in particular.

[4In the Sahel region, temperatures are rising 1.5 times faster than elsewhere. This has important consequences on local rainfall: it rains less and when it rains, it is often in a shorter period of time which leads to flooding.

[5With the presence of the world’s gold giants, Barrick Gold (Loulo and Gounkoto mines) and AngloGold Ashanti (Sadiola and Yatola mines).

[6Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Serbia, Sudan, Tunisia.