Op-Ed: Mistaken metaphor: the ‘root causes’ approach to migration is both dishonest and ineffective

Bram Frouws, Mixed Migration Centre, 18 March 2020 - In recent years, there has been a strong focus on and narrative around the so-called root causes of migration. It is a central element for example in the 4.7 billion euro ‘European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa’ (EUTF). The idea is that displacement and irregular migration will fall when the root causes are addressed. While there is some validity in this premise and it has contributed to the implementation of some successful development projects, there are also many flaws. [...]

In 2019, a study by the NGO Stop Wapenhandel showed how many of the big Western multinationals in the defence industry produce the weapons used in conflicts around the world that lead to the displacement of millions of people and onward migration flows. These same companies are winning multi-million dollar contracts in Europe and the US to produce the technology that is increasingly being used to keep migrants and refugees ‘out’, such as motion-detecting camera’s, fences, drones and other high-tech border control systems. [...]