Germany says time for African 'Marshall Plan'
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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany urged other developed countries on Friday to support a plan it is finalising to bolster the economies of Africa, create jobs and slow the flow of migrants from the continent to Europe.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and her officials, anxious to stop growing numbers of migrants risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea, are pushing for increased public and private investment in Africa.
Development Minister Gerd Mueller said Germany would in coming weeks release details of what he called a new "Marshall Plan with Africa" - drawing a direct parallel with the huge U.S. investment programme that kick-started the ravaged German economy after World War Two.
"We have to invest in these countries and give people perspectives for the future," he told a news conference.
"If the youth of Africa can't find work or a future in their own countries, it won't be hundreds of thousands, but millions that make their way to Europe."
The International Organization for Migration last week said nearly 160,000 people had crossed the Mediterranean from Africa to Italy this year, while 4,220 had died trying.
Mueller noted that in addition to the migrants already looking to come to Europe, there were about 20 million displaced people in Africa.
He said these issues needed to be recognised by the international community, and Africa should have representation on the U.N. Security Council.
Mueller said his plan was aimed at developing joint solutions with African countries, with a big focus on programmes for youth, education and training and on strengthening economies and the rule of law.
Merkel raised similar issues during a visit to Africa last month, and during a meeting of the G20 industrialised countries in China.
Mueller said a significant share of his ministry's proposed budget increase of over 1 billion euros for 2017 would be earmarked for projects in Africa.
Germany this week pledged a 61-million-euro ($67 million) hike in funding for U.N. relief operations in Africa.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Erik Kirschbaum and John Stonestreet)
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