AFRICA: Aid corruption is driving migration

Illegal migrants aboard an inflatable dinghy (Image: US Navy – Chief Information Systems Technician Wesley R. Dickey).
Illegal migrants aboard an inflatable dinghy (Image: US Navy – Chief Information Systems Technician Wesley R. Dickey).

Corruption impacting international aid destined for the most destitute is driving migration from African nations, according to a bishop from the continent.

Bishop Miguel Ángel Nguema Bee of Ebibeyín, Equatorial Guinea, said dishonest African governments are failing to deliver aid to the most vulnerable.

He told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that the main driver of migration is poverty – and international aid not reaching those most in need is fuelling the cycle of destitution, leading Africans to seek a new life elsewhere.

He said: “Much of the aid is lost due to corrupt governments and inefficient structures.”

The bishop suggested that governments be bypassed in favour of organisations working on the ground – including the Church, Women’s’ Associations and charitable foundations.

Bishop Nguema said: “These entities could provide much more direct and efficient help, such as grants for young people in vulnerable situations.”

Conditional aid which has so-called progressive strings attached to it is also a problem – and the bishop also hit out at help which is tied to African countries accepting values held in the Western donor nations.

Bishop Nguema said: “Aid is often conditioned on the recognition of values that are not present in the local culture.

“The imposition of issues such as abortion, gender diversity or the penetration of religious sects are signs of this new colonialism.”

The Bishop of Ebibeyín stressed the importance of respecting and valuing the local culture when providing aid.

And the prelate insisted on the need for development programmes to stimulate local economic activity, instead of encouraging dependency.

He said: “It is crucial that we help create structures that boost self-sufficiency and sustainable development so that people can move forward without having to constantly depend on external help.”

Bishop Nguema added that many Africans are also encouraged to migrate – including by illegal means – by big business, particularly sports firms which promote the West as a prosperous region.

He said: “Misleading publicity and promises of easy money made by the sports industry are responsible for promoting this illusion.”

“The West presents a false idea of easy solutions, which is a mirage, and contributes to a false sense of security.

“The easy money schemes that are presented directly contribute to this problem.”

At least 8,565 people died on global migratory routes in 2023, making it the deadliest year on record, according to figures published last month by the UN’s International Organisation for Migration.

The Mediterranean route continues to be the most dangerous, with at least 3,129 people having died or gone missing.

Most of the deaths in Africa took place in the Sahara Desert or on the sea crossing to the Canary Islands.