• Time to check dangerous migration through the desert

    Time to check dangerous migration through the desert - nigeria newspapers online
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    By Editorial Board

    08 May 2024   |   4:10 am

    Despite the hazards migrants face crossing the desert and the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, recent years have witnessed a steady increase in the number of Africans, mostly youth, exploring the deadly routes and losing their lives in their desperation to relocate

    Despite the hazards migrants face crossing the desert and the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, recent years have witnessed a steady increase in the number of Africans, mostly youth, exploring the deadly routes and losing their lives in their desperation to relocate outside the continent. There is a need for urgent action to check the avoidable and untimely deaths.

    Already, there are indications that the prevalence of internal displacements and frustrations induced by violent conflicts and hardships in countries of sub-Saharan Africa have increased the momentum of forced migration within and outside the continent. While internal migration poses considerable challenges that require coordinated policies in managing emergencies of human mobility across the continent, there is, however, more compelling urgency to curtail the triggers of forced migration outside the continent considering the attendant huge numbers of victims of chilling cruelty as well as the mounting record of fatalities. The challenge demands country-level commitment across the continent as well as coordinated actions at the sub-regional as well as at continental levels.

    In 2023 alone, an estimated 3,041 migrants were believed to have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Many others, who fell victim to torture, kidnapping, extortion, and other forms of cruelty in the desert routes never made it to the point of crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Unfortunately, the disturbing reality of a huge number of Africans of productive age exploring the deadly routes while attempting to migrate outside the continent appears not to be attracting the much-needed attention from African governments. It would thus appear the scourge of migration from the continent on account of worsening socio-economic crisis, particularly in countries embroiled in violent conflicts, has become a norm rather than an exception.

    Unmindful of the imminent danger along the perilous routes in the desert and across the Mediterranean Sea, the unbridled search for greener pasture outside the shores of the continent may continue for as long as violent conflicts and multi-dimensional poverty pervade in African countries.

    Hazards on migratory routes remain a global challenge, and the high rate of fatalities associated with migrating Africans is alarming. Although nearly 60 per cent of migrant deaths are traceable to drowning along the routes, the desperation to relocate to Europe amongst Africans appears to obfuscate the peril that has become so palpable and ordinarily should have necessitated caution.

    According to the March 2024 Report by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), one in three migrants dies in the bid to accomplish their mission while two victims in three documented deaths are unidentifiable or unrecognisable. Statistics by IOM’s Missing Migrant Project further indicate that the bodies of some 26,666 migrants presumed to have died in transit are yet to be recovered. The report further reveals that over 1000 migrant deaths had been recorded between January and March 2024 while the Central Mediterranean remains the deadliest route where an estimated 23,092 are believed to have died since 2014.

    It is indeed worrisome that a large population of Africans is becoming frustrated with no better option than to flee conflict zones in Africa, on account of fears of survival and uncertainty about their future. Regrettably, victimisation and fatalities continue to compound the woes of young Africans, a good number of whom never accomplished the mission of a better deal in Europe. Some of those who managed to survive the horrendous mission of migrating are either faced with threats of deportation or ended up living in servitude as illegal immigrants. While disclosure by the IOM alluded to the hazards confronting migrants from Africa, it is nonetheless regrettable that African migrants continue to embark on such death-defying missions.

    The recent decision by the government of the United Kingdom to send asylum seekers to Rwanda should serve as a wake-up call to African leaders on the need to make the continent safer and economically prosperous to serve as a disincentive to desperation for migration.

    Undoubtedly, violent conflicts, bad governance, and deteriorating living standards have continued to heighten frustration even as ungoverned spaces occasioned by instability across the continent widen. There appears to be no end in sight as more Africans are likely to become increasingly frustrated and left with the dire straits option of seeking perilous routes for survival outside Africa unless the situation in their home countries improves. It should be disturbing that young females and children are among those who have perished on migration routes while a good number are still trapped as victims.

    We urge African leaders to devote more than passing attention to the plight of migrants who end up as victims out of frustration. There is a need for sustained campaigns and advocacy targeted at enlightening the vulnerable segment of society particularly the youth on the danger of illegal migration as well as the dangers of the illicit routes. There is also the need for enlightenment on the harsh reality of immigration laws and the hostility migrants from Africa are subjected to in Europe, more so that immigration laws in European countries appear to be tightening the noose on illegal migrants.

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