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Last Updated: Friday, 22 February 2008, 05:35 GMT
Africa meeting to block migrants
African illegal immigrants arriving in Tenerife
Thousands have died trying to reach Europe in rickety boats

African and European politicians are meeting in the Ghanaian capital Accra to discuss how to stem the illegal flow of African migrants to Europe.

One plan is to publicise in Africa the stories of hazardous journeys to Europe, in the hope of persuading would-be migrants to emigrate legally.

Another suggestion is to make it easier for Africans to get jobs legally.

In 2007, thousands of Africans died trying to enter the EU, either crossing the Sahara or travelling by boat.

"Last year, around 15,000 immigrants reached one of the gateways to Europe - Spain's Canary Islands - and about 12,000 made it to Italy," said Joe Rispoli of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which is launching the programme with the EU.

"But several thousand others died en route."

Brain circulation

If I imagine myself without means to maintain my family or myself I would not hesitate to "jump" in search of a better option since people who have nothing have nothing to loose and all to gain.
Artur de Freitas, Johannesburg - South Africa

Apart from sending home money for relatives, African countries see little benefit from the migration, but are efforts afoot to change that, says the BBC's Will Ross Accra.

European countries like Spain and Italy have skills shortages and are keen to advertise in Africa for short-term contracts.

With plans to help with skills training in Africa, the EU has started to talk of a brain circulation rather than a brain drain, our correspondent adds.

But the demand for jobs in Europe massively outstrips these legal offers of work.

Consequently, the only way to stem the illegal migration would be to create jobs in Africa, says our correspondent.

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