The European Union should help improve living conditions in Africa with a view to preventing mass migration from the continent, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Rwanda on Tuesday.
Addressing a meeting of EU and African Union foreign ministers, Szijjártó said the two continents were dependent on each other in their responses to the coronavirus pandemic. Europe has a vested interest in contributing to the successful handling of the pandemic in Africa, the minister said, noting that Hungary has so far donated 455,000 doses of Covid vaccines to Egypt, Rwanda and Cape Verde. Also, it has set aside another 200,000 doses for the continent as part of a joint programme launched by the Turkic Council, he added.
Szijjártó said the more damage the virus did in Africa, the more migrants would set off from the continent towards Europe, which he said could speed up the spread of the virus. Hungary believes in the need to address the root causes of migration and provide help at the point where it is needed instead of bringing problems over to Europe, Szijjártó said. He said the focus should be on creating conditions in migrant origin countries that enable people to remain in their homelands.
Szijjártó noted that Hungary is providing 31 billion forints (EUR 84.8m) in tied aid to Africa and has spent 11 billion forints on various humanitarian projects in more than 50 African countries. Szijjártó also emphasised the importance of supporting talented young Africans so that they can contribute to the modernisation of their home countries. Hungary therefore offers state scholarships to 1,400 African university students each year, he said, adding that there are currently 20 countries involved in the scheme. Meanwhile, Szijjártó said Hungary has decided to contribute 62 soldiers to Europe’s Takuba Task Force fighting Islamic State-linked militants in Mali.