Aug 5, 2011, 1:13 PM
For many of them even if it would cost them their lives along the journey they would rather venture into the trip than staying in Africa.
In The Gambia, in the past ten years for instance, so many young and able-bodied men lost their lives in their attempts to enter Europe illegal.
Even the boats they were using were far from being safe yet leaving the motherland in search of ‘greener pastures’ is always their target.
While some do make it to their targeted destinations, many others failed in their attempts through either perishing in the sea or being chased away by police in various territorial waters.
Information reaching this paper has confirmed that some Gambian youths are still engaged in illegal migration though not on a large scale as before.
The question that keeps lingering in my mind ever since I received this information is: Why should one risk his or her life just to enter Europe?
Consider the risks associated with travelling in the Sahara desert and the high seas coupled with the current Euro crisis affecting many European countries, I do believe our youth should have a rethink about the adventure.
In a visit to Germany in 2010, where I met with some Africans including Gambians, many confessed to me that they indeed regretted embarking on the terrible journey and that all what they encountered were “unbelievable”.
I came to believe their assertions for obvious reasons, because even if you were to be lucky to enter Europe illegally, before you will settle there, it will take quite a long time, talk less about going through the dangerous seas to make it to Europe.
However, despite all these narrations and widespread campaigns going on both locally and internationally to put a stop to the practice, still some youths would prefer to go the back way even if it would cost them their lives.
Therefore, I have come to draw my own conclusion that something fundamentally is wrong and if more concrete solutions are not provided we would continue to loose our youth.
Over the years, The Gambia government, development partners and the various civil society groups in the country have made tremendous efforts to discourage the youth from illegally travelling to Europe.
Nonetheless, despite these efforts, I do believe that the focus target groups, especially with regard to sensitisation, were the educated and school-going boys and girls (formal western education) and parents.
The very critical groups were not fully engaged for obvious reasons; these include the sponsors of the youths venturing in the journey and uneducated youth as well as those who went to the Madarasas.
In my understanding these were the main actors who needed to be seriously engage though it’s a huge challenge since some of the sponsors are not within the jurisdiction.
For those middle men who are making huge sums of money from the business, seeing them alone becomes a daunting task, much more engaging them.
While we are not saying no one should go to Europe, our argument is that going via legal means is the best option.
We also know the frustrations of our youth such as poverty, and limited employment opportunities but we do believe that the monies they pay for these precarious journeys could be used for a start-up business for them.
We also encourage consulates of various diplomatic missions in the country and beyond to accepting visa applications from Gambians to consider issuing visas to our young committed and legitimate travellers.
In as much as we want the youth to seek legal means of travelling to Europe, consulates representing their various European countries in the country should also corporate with them including those travelling in the names of their youth organisations, offices and family or business trips.