Every day we read stories of many Africans trying to travel illegally to Europe through various seas, deserts. The loss of lives through this adventure has been colossal. According to Wikipedia, “On 3 October 2013, a boat carrying migrants from Libya to Italy sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa. It was reported that the boat had sailed from Misrata, Libya, but that many of the migrants were originally from Eritrea, Somalia and Ghana”.
On 11th of October, 2013, a second shipwreck occurred in Malta. Available report showed that 34 were confirmed dead; initial unconfirmed reports of at least 50 bodies appeared to be exaggerated. The boat was carrying over 200 migrants, reportedly from Syria and Palestine, and capsized when people on board moved to one side of the vessel as they tried to get the attention of a passing aircraft. The rescue operation was coordinated by the Maltese authorities, with the assistance of some of the Italian vessels involved after 3 October shipwreck at Lampedusa. Some 147 survivors were taken to Malta, and a further 56 were taken to Italy. According to some of the Syrian migrants, the boat was fired upon by Libyan militiamen during a trafficking gang dispute”.
The above figure is just what was reported within a month. Thousands of other near fatal experiences happen on the high sea, deserts every day. The question we will then ask is ‘why are Africans taking such a fatal chances? Why one would jeopardize his/her future in search of a green pasture that is not guaranteed. Even when they eventually make the journey, many will largely be illegal immigrants who will always be on the run for a long time. Research has shown only few of them eventually get required stay permit which allows them to work and become integrated into the system.
Majority of these illegal immigrants end up becoming sex workers or engage in all forms of menial jobs for years. Their lives are often wasted on a journey to nowhere.
With this established, what can we say are factors aiding this and what can be done by Africa leaders to address this. One of the reasons is the level of poverty across Africa. Many poor folks always believe searching for better life is on the other side of the sea. Also, there is a subtle society pressure. In some parts of Nigeria, parents put pressure on their sons/daughter to go in search of ‘abroad money’ by all means.
High level of illiteracy cannot also be ruled out. Accompany factor to this is low self worth by many of these immigrants. They have erroneous believe traveling abroad is the only way to proof to others you are also a person to reckon with in the society.
What then are the solutions to this challenge?
1. African leaders should address the issue of poverty through creation of enabling environment, strategic human potential development among others.
2. Society and government must also address cultural and societal pressure on their indigenes to travel by all means.
3 Education (quality education): formal and informal which can aid personal potential development, entrepreneurship; self esteem building must be encouraged at all levels of government.
4 Campaign and orientation: there are bad cases of such adventure that had turned sour; such can be packed on a sustained campaign so that other can be discouraged. Drama, soup operas can also be created to support this.