Determined to defy death and deportation, encouraged by the euphoria of a better life upon crossing the Atlantic ocean and pushed by hunger, war and bad governance that have failed to secure their lives and provide them jobs; millions of Africans are still crossing dangerous waters at the cost of their life to enter Europe.
In the process, thousands drown, get arrested, tortured and deported. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says about 890 people “have drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean” in just ten days interval.
The Secretary General of the organization Mr Elhadj As Sy described it as “a period of grief and shame. Grief for the mothers, fathers and sons who have died. Shame as this is happening within sight of Europe”, adding that “The Mediterranean is transforming into a watery graveyard.
“In May alone, the number of people who were reported missing or have drowned at sea reached a staggering 1,086. People are risking their lives every day,” he said.
But despite these treatments, there has been a significant increase in the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean waters to European nations in search of a better life.
These Africans are forced to leave their home countries because of many but complex reasons. First being that, African leaders have failed to do their responsibilities. An estimated $148 billion dollars is looted from government coffers in Africa every year by corrupt government officials. These monies are stashed in Europe through anonymous companies that conceal their identities as recently discovered in the Panama papers, a leaked document of the Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonsecca that reveals how influential business and political leaders evade tax.
The monies if properly invested in Africa could provide jobs to the teeming unemployed youths in the continent, which would drastically cut the number of youths struggling through illegal and dangerous ways to enter Europe.
African countries ravaged by war and famine have also fueled the influx of illegal immigrants into Europe. The recent wars in countries like Libya, Central Africa Republic, Mali, South Sudan and the persistent famine in Somalia and Ethiopia have forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes in search of safe havens.
Libya has been “a magnet” for these migrants, but since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, the Arab state has not remained the same.
Migrants pay up to $1,370 to get into dangerous boats to Malta, and the Italian island of Lampedusa. An estimated 27, 000 crossed to Italy in 2014, ten times the number in 2013 and since then, the number has been on the rise.
The “intolerant” European countries have also contributed to the growing number of immigrants. For instance, while African leaders are looting government coffers, the loots are kept in European banks, further impoverishing the continent and making it vulnerable to all kinds of abuses and bad leadership.
Europe is consistently adjusting its anti-immigrants laws; only Germany seems tolerant. But the measures are making things worse; they have killed more immigrants rather than discourage them from embarking on the risky journeys.
Mr Elhadj As Sy who warned of the consequences of such measures urged European countries to “provide safe routes for people seeking sanctuary and refuge”, arguing that “solutions to this crisis must respect our shared humanity”. But whether EU will subscribe to such calls is still unclear at the moment, as more sanctions that have failed to curtail the influx of migrants over the years will continue to emerge in the coming years.