A revolt is evoked in one’s mind when images of distraught migrants just landing on the shores of Italy are awash in the mainstream media. People who have left everything, with nothing, in hope of better lives in the more prosperous economies of Europe.
The migrant crisis presents one of the worst humanitarian crisis in history. Europe has faced a problem that has even threatened its stable intra-cooperation. Migrants coming from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and Africa have flocked the shores of European lands with hope being the only thing they have. Europe is grappling with this menace, with its leaders divided over the issue. But what does the migrant crisis mean for Africa?
Italy has been receiving a huge influx of migrants, many coming from African countries and they go via Libya. Migrants from countries such as Niger, Mali and many other West and North African countries, even Eritrea are fleeing war, human rights abuses, poor conditions of living and other forms of injustice. They risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Italy and hope for better lives, many of them subsequently seeking asylum. They go through very perilous journeys across the Sahara desert to get to Libya where they will set for Italy in poor boats. In the Sahara desert some die of hunger and thirst, some from fatigue, some get captured by militias; it’s an unbearable journey, but one worth to risk life for.
On the way some die, boats capsize and lives just perish. Because they believe it is worth the shot. Because they are running away from the torrid conditions back home. Because they seek greener pastures. Because our African leaders have failed them, and because the system has failed them. The war is too much, the economy is so bad, everything is just a horrendous experience so getting to Europe because the only option one has to face.
A common occurrence among African countries is leaders relentlessly pursuing regime survival. They will seek to achieve this by any means be it civil war or anything. Hence, priorities become misplaced. The welfare of citizens is neglected. The people bear the brunt, while the leaders generally do little to fix the dire situation. This forces people to have no other option than to flee, considering many of them are impoverished, going by sea becomes the only way, no matter how precarious it may seem.
This year alone about 85 000 migrants have reached Italy from Libya, something that our leaders must see. Europe’s divergent views on how to handle and control the crisis have made it worse or the migrants. French president Macron and German chancellor Merkel hold the “we-welcome-migrants-with-open-arms” view, but not so with their Austrian, Hungarian counterparts, and as Italy is being overwhelmed, it may follow the route of stricter border controls. European cooperation to this seems to be at its lowest, with some hope in sight, but what it means is that the migrants continue to undergo deplorable conditions. Even the hope of a better life vanishes.
What this means for us Africans is to get our economies ticking again. To put an end to all the conflicts marring some countries. To halt human rights abuses. To get our priorities right. The onus is on the respective governments, but as a united Africa we have to raise our voices high so that the leaders heed our call. They haven’t been able to take care of the citizens, pushing them to the margins, where suffering is normalized and institutionalized.
As the European leaders deal with Euroscepticism, which is bad news for migrants, and also deal with a pan-European approach to this, as Africans let’s also deal with this in a more pan-African way, and aim at achieving better lives for the whole of us.