Jan 23, 2009, 5:58 AM
has been reported in both the international and local media on Thursday that at
least 58 people, including children, were killed after a boat carrying dozens
of migrants capsized in the Atlantic Ocean off the West African nation of
Mauritania. Survivors said the vessel left The Gambia on November 27 and was
carrying at least 150 people. Some 83 people who swam to shore, are currently
receiving treatment in the Mauritanian northern city of Nouadhibou.
Government should move fast to create opportunities to encourage youth to stay and work in the country. A limited prospect as well as lack of job opportunities is the main driver forcing thousands of youth to embark on this dangerous journey in search of greener pastures in the West.
This perilous Spain sea route from West Africa was once a major route for migrants seeking jobs and prosperity.
IOM estimates show that between 2014 to 2018 more than 35,000 Gambian migrants have arrived in Europe. Latest reports, however, indicate that this particular boat incident is one of the deadliest incidents since the mid-2000s when Spain stepped up patrols and fewer boats attempted the journey.
It is a hard fact that African countries will continue to grapple with irregular migration if its leaders continue to neglect to invest more in its teeming youth population. Concrete measures need to be employed to stem the flow of youth wanting to emigrate using this illegal and deadly sea journey.
We therefore, call on government to open up more viable centres to train youths so as to learn gainful skills that would be of benefit to them and the nation at large. This would also encourage youths to stay and contribute to national development.
Parents should also desist from financing trips and encouraging their children to venture into this perilous sea journeys.
We also call on the Police High command to launch an urgent investigation into this recent boat mishap and prosecute those found wanting. We all agree that irregular migration is a multi-million dollar and normally a chain-business that involves many stakeholders.
But we prosecuting those involved would help a great deal in halting this reprehensible and dangerous business.
Youth should also understand that The Gambia is a land of opportunity and they can make it here, and contribute positively to the country’s socio-economic development.
‘‘The boat tumbled over and over, the crack that boomed over the bay was as good as thunder. Then, after a moment of extended silence it sank beneath the calm surface of the water, a mini-titanic..’’