The perilous road from Africa to Europe
Every day, men from all over Africa take the perilous journey through the continent and the open seas in search of a better life in Europe. They leave behind their families, paying hundreds of dollars for a square inch of space on a boat off the coast of West Africa. From there, they battle ...
Every day, men from all over Africa take the perilous journey through the continent and the open seas in search of a better life in Europe. They leave behind their families, paying hundreds of dollars for a square inch of space on a boat off the coast of West Africa.
From there, they battle rough weather conditions, malnutrition and trauma for several days on an open, overcrowded boat, in hopes of seeing the shores of Spain or Italy. Many of them, however, don’t make it. Last week a overloaded fishing boat from Senegal capsized twice while sailing to Spain’s Canary Islands, leaving at least 80 passengers dead.
The tale is sadly typical of migrant boats making their way to Europe. Many of the boats are ill-equipped for the journey, and rescue workers and police often intercept the journey and escort them back to shore. The migrants are then helped back to health, detained and either released or deported to their country of origin. For those sent back, the experience doesn’t necessarily deter them. One man on his second attempt to reach Europe from Nigeria says, “I am, of course, very afraid of making this boat journey again but there is no other way. I and other Africans like myself feel we have no choice. I have to try and make a better life, I pray that God will see me through.” As Austin Wainwright, a worker with the Spanish Red Cross, relates, the journey is harrowing, but far too many Africans “would rather die trying to make it to Europe than to stay in their country.”
Europe has responded to illegal immigration by introducing patrol boats, planes and helicopters off the shores of Mauritania, Senegal and Cape Verde. Also, last month, the EU introduced new measures to deal with illegal immigration, including allocating 40 million euros to boost job creation in Africa. Improving the African economy is a great idea. Unfortunately, nobody has found a magic formula for Africa yet, and 40 million euros is nowhere near enough.
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