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Death toll soars on back-way sea route to Europe

Oct 31, 2016, 9:30 AM

Again latest reports have it that hundreds of African youths, including females have perished on the Libyan seas leading to the Mediterranean.

At the weekend, more than 90 migrants were reportedly missing after their boat sank off the coast of western Libyan on Wednesday 26 October.

Three weeks ago, reports also indicated that “more than 4,650 migrants were saved on 4 October 2016 off the Libyan coast and 28 bodies recovered”, bringing  the total number of people rescued in two days then to “nearly 11,000”, according to Italy’s coast guard.

This is quite alarming and a cause for concern. It seems no amount of advice, projects or sensitization could stop our African youths from braving the dangerous desert terrain and the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

Over the years, tens of thousands of our youths in Africa have been risking their dear lives to enter Europe via the back-way.

While some are eventually entering Europe to reside in countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany and other places, under harrowing and dehumanizing conditions, a lot of them are dying en route to Europe in the desert of North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea.

Countless number of strategies, sensitization campaigns, international and national projects and huge amounts of financial resources have been put in place or are being rolled out to curb the illegal migration menace of our youths to European countries.

It seems all these resources being invested in the fight to curtail the illegal or back-way travel to Europe through the diabolic sea route is like throwing water on sand, with no fruitful results, as the youths have continued in desperate fervour to penetrate Europe through the back-way.

Commenting on the back-way syndrome, Spain’s Chargé d’Affaires to The Gambia said the general trend of going to Europe illegally, which involves youths from The Gambia and neighbouring countries, is a serious cause for concern to which a solution of concerted efforts is needed.

Her concern is also substantiated by a report this year of illegal immigration put out by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), on arrivals of migrants in Italy in the first weeks of 2016; as arrivals “have come mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, especially Nigeria and The Gambia”.

“Nigerians and Gambians accounted for around one-third of the 5,273 migrants who arrived in Italy during January 2016,” the report stated.

It added that The Gambia is one the countries in Africa where many immigrants are leaving for Europe.

From January to March 2015, about 51 immigrants left The Gambia for Italy; and in the same period between January and March 2016 about 676 people travelled through the back-way to Italy from The Gambia, the report stated. This trend has continued unabated.

Whilst some immigrants are making it to Europe, others are losing their lives in droves on the way to the continent with ‘milk and honey’.

But why has this trend continued?

Much of the problems and miserable situations we are faced with today in Africa are perpetuated by abject poverty in African countries and bad governance such as misplaced and wrong economic policies, corruption and embezzlement of state resources, human rights violations, and power struggles and conflicts.

“Much of the miserable situations we are faced with today in Africa are perpetuated by abject poverty…”

The Point