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By Jack Parrock
BRUSSELS April 24 — The President of the African Union (AU) Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, says she hopes there will be no backlash across the African continent following the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
The comments came at a meeting between the Commissioners of the African Union and the European Union (EU) in Brussels Wednesday which also focused on the issue of migrants dying in the Mediterranean Sea as they try to reach southern Europe from North Africa.
An estimated 175,000 people made the treacherous crossing in 2014 with the number set to rise dramatically for 2015.
Dlamini-Zuma, a former South African Minister for international relations and co-operation, expressed concern over the effect of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
“As the AU, obviously it is important for us to work with the government, we cannot just as the AU, find a solution for a country. It would be a pity if the whole continent were to now be destabilised because of these tragic incidents in South Africa.”
The EU and the AU also committed to deeper co-operation to tackle the rising death toll of migrants from across Africa and the Middle East boarding flimsy boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach European shores.
“I would like the Africans and Europeans to understand that this is about partnership. It is not about generosity, it is not about charity, it is a real partnership and we are equal partners when it comes to building bridges over the Mediterranean,” said EU President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Both the EU and the AU are being heavily criticised for being slow to react with more than 1,600 people having drowned in the Mediterranean. The meeting in Brussels involved not only the heads of the commissions, but also many of the commissioners from both sides.
It also focused on climate change and development targets. Until a full-fledged search and rescue operation is launched in the Mediterranean, migration will remain the top priority for both the AU and EU.