Mar 15, 2013, 10:22 AM
The Gambia is said to be having the highest number of African migrants who arrived in Italy this year, according to media reports quoting the Italian Interior Minister.
“During the first quarter of 2015, a relatively slow period with just 10,165 arrivals, The Gambia was the leading country of origin, accounting for 1,413 of the migrants,” the New York Times quoted the Interior minister as saying.
According to the reports, The Gambia last year came out fifth among a host of leading countries of origin for migrants living in refugee camps in Italy.
For us, this is a worrying trend, despite all the efforts being made by state authorities to curb the menace, as we continue to lose hundreds of youthful lives in European seas year in year out.
But why do our youths continue to take this diabolic and perilous journey to Europe?
It is a well-known truth that many people are forced to migrate due to circumstances in their home countries.
These include poverty, war, persecution, job scarcity and low salaries and income which cause many African citizens to live on less than a dollar a day.
In The Gambia, there could be some efforts made toward creating job and lucrative skills training opportunities, as well as providing some amount of financial resources to spur entrepreneurship among the youths.
However, these opportunities are yet to be attractive to the majority of the youths in the country, considering the fact that at the grassroots, the country’s youth population has not fully been prepared to take advantage of the opportunities.
Many of the youths who risk taking the perilous journey of going to Europe through the ‘back way’ are the less privileged, less skilled and educated, from poor family background and, of course, poor political and economic orientation about the world and Africa – believing that the only place where they can transform their lives for the better is in Europe or the West.
By extension, these are the similar factors responsible for the massive migration to Europe of the majority of African people.
Whilst our people, especially the youths, are dying in droves in the high seas trying to migrate to Europe through the ‘back way’, others are facing cumbersome immigration measures seeking visas to Europe or the West.
It is actually impossible to stop migration in this world of ours, but we can chose to migrate or not to a large extent by taste, if it were not because of the hurtful and debilitating circumstances we face in Africa, such as lack of jobs, poverty, war, persecution and low salaries and income.
UN Special Representative for West Africa Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah once said of the situation of our youths losing their lives in the seas trying to migrate to Europe:
“I dread to think of the scenes we may be contemplating in, say, 20 years if we do not make a massive consolidated effort to create jobs and opportunities in West Africa. What is happening now is only a tip of the iceberg, compared to what will occur if urgent solutions are not found.”
We need to create jobs by encouraging and supporting both local and foreign investments, as well as developing the productive and manufacturing sectors of our economy.
We also need to give our youths correct political, economic and social education about the world and Africa, so that we are able to make informed decisions and determine the path we take in bettering our lives.
We really need a proper planning of our resources, both material and human, and how we should transform our economy and socio-political milieu to make our nation a better place for us.
“When our house is in order, then we can comfortably fit in it, and be accepted to fit in others.”