Over 3000 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean to Europe in 2014. Europe is a fortress. It is practically impossible for Africans to get in illegally. The case for rapid, radical investment in African countries to improve lives is the most critical leadership issue of our time. But while there is the rare fairy tale success story like that of Ghanian Elias Orjini, below, and his Sicilian girlfriend, Leandra as told to the BBC, the lure remains.
Elias was one of 150 survivors from a boat tragedy where 500 people met their death.
The risks of crossing from Africa to Europe have been made even more dangerous now. Current EU policy, Operation Triton puts the responsibility on private ships in the area to rescue those in trouble. The ships of course are under no obligation to respond and there is evidence to suggest this has already been the case. Operation Triton replaces Mare Nostrum, the Italian navy rescue operation.
The UK has opted out of rescuing migrants in the mediterranean on the grounds that saving people, encourages more people to risk making the journey to Europe.
There is a radical need to catalyse the development of African societies to reduce this senseless waste of life. People don’t run away from developed societies. Those who do make it to Europe illegally face an equally unproductive, soul destroying quest for survival in some of the most inclement environments imaginable, in societies which are becoming increasingly hostile to foreigners seen as having no right to be there. Surprising Europe a follow on non-profit organisation based on the AlJazeera series of the same name, documents the experiences of migrants in Europe. They show stories with a poignant mixture of “despair, inspiration, hope and creativity”.
Being illegal is a horrible experience. Most of the Africans who make the trip to Europe will never achieve their dream, and many will continue to die. Is it worth the risk?
Image credit: Noborder Network, Lampedusa, CC BY