Echoes of inhuman treatments from the North

Friday, November 24, 2017

It is actually heartrending hearing news and reading reports of egregious violation of human rights and human dignity of our African youths who are being enslaved and sold like animals even in Libya our North African neighbours.

Such cruel treatments of our fellow human beings in Libya has prompted our government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad to express dismay at the ongoing horrific and indignant reports on the sale of African migrants as slaves in that country.

Similar concerns have been raised by other African countries like Nigeria, who, few days ago also had about 26 of her young girls drowned in the Libyan/ Mediterranean Sea, and Sierra Leone received another set of about 100 returnees from Libya who were subjected to similar enslavement in that North African country.

As our Foreign Ministry stated, “such inhumane and degrading acts are against the high values of freedom, justice and respect for human rights cherished by all civilised societies”.

It is therefore good that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on the International Community to condemn the practice in pursuit of global peace, security and respect for human rights.

And it has given instructions for the inclusion of this topic at the top of the agenda at the upcoming Africa-EU summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

This is good but as we look towards that end we as a people and governments in Africa should also try to tackle the dimensional factors to irregular migration, which has led to this horrendous situation in Libya.

Over the years authorities – such as African governments (like The Gambia), the EU and the IOM - finding solutions to the problems of irregular migration have looked into many issues, ranging from poverty and economic mess in African countries to challenges of corruption, human rights violation and generally bad governance, in order to alleviate or curb the menace of irregular migration.

Hence the efforts have been stoutly directed at trying to cushion the dire economic condition of African countries by providing huge sums of money and supporting projects of different sorts to help African youth get themselves engaged or work to do in their home countries, to enable them change their economic condition for the better amidst other remedial undertakings.

However it seems that is not enough; that the holistic approach we are talking about is not really holistic as it has somehow left out one very salient psychological factor, which is the mind-set and perception of our youths and, to a large extent, most people on the African continent, that all that shines in Europe is silver and gold.

On the other hand there is nothing good or no certainty of one being able to live, learn, work and prosper in Africa, without going to Europe.  Yes indeed conditions are largely not favourable in Africa for the majority of our people, as our government functionaries have not proved to be able to transform Africa for the better and make the continent (our countries) a better place for mankind. This situation or perception makes it somehow justifiable for the mad rush or desperation to go to Europe or the West, even if we have to lose our lives in trying to go there, for “it is a just cause!”

This mentality is what has led to a huge number of youths languishing on the desert and in Libya trying to go to Europe. Yet the fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters and other relatives of these desperate seekers of greener pasture are using the sweat of their brows – selling landed properties and other valuable assets, remitting monies from abroad and pooling financial resources together to aid and abet, or, in their consideration, support their children and siblings to be able to make it to Europe even as they are on the path of dangerous venture.

This mentality and perception has a subtle but great part to play in fuelling the exodus to Europe and must therefore be fought against if the efforts being put into solving irregular migration should yield fruit.

“I think anything is possible if you have the mindset and the will and desire to do it and put the time in.”
Roger Clemens