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Yet another horrific tragedy

Oct 4, 2013, 9:48 AM

News that at least 130 people died and up to 200 were missing, after a boat packed with African migrants caught fire and sank off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday, is indeed shocking and horrific.

The disaster occurred when the boat’s motor stopped working and the vessel began to take on water, Reuters news agency quoted Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano as saying. The Minister said people on board burned a sheet to attract the attention of rescuers, starting a fire on board.

This horrific incident, seen as one of the worst disasters to hit the perilous route for migrants seeking to reach Europe from Africa, has compel us to once again look into the issue of illegal migration as a serious cause for concern.

Last year, almost 500 people were reported dead or missing on the crossing from Tunisia to Italy, the UN refugee office UNHCR says.

These were able-bodied young men and women at the prime of their productivity.

From the coast of Lagos right up to the coast of Morocco, there are thousands and thousands of African youths at various stages of migrating to Europe.

The practice of embarking on perilous, mostly sea voyages, has in recent years been an all too common phenomenon that has taken its toll on life and limb of African youths, who are resolved to reach the European mainland by all means.

How sorrowful, considering the price of the misadventure.

It is costing many a hope-starved African youth a great deal of money, which they and their families have to raise through a variety of difficult means.

The huge amounts involved in such dangerous journeys would have helped many youths to establish small businesses, if not a big one, that would benefit not only them but the country at large.

Most African youths attribute their extreme decision to the inability of their respective countries to provide jobs or, when they could provide them, fail to guarantee the kind of remuneration at least reasonably comparable with that which can be earned in Europe.

However, one important consideration that our youths should understand about the dream of Europe is that all that glitters is not gold.

In so many cases, when people have succeeded in making it there, they find themselves in such unexpected situations that they have to lead lives of terrible poverty, and suffer shocking discrimination.

Africa has a lot of potential, and one should therefore be steadfast.

The search for greener pastures should not be pursued as a matter of life and death.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

Henry David Thoreau

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