Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Unsafe and illegal migration is now becoming a worrisome problem. The fear is that if left unchecked can continue engendering more harm, loss of lives and properties. On a daily basis, numerous Nigerians fall into circumstances of unsafe migration and become susceptible to human trafficking. It is estimated, on an annual basis, that about a million Nigerians are trafficked outside the shores of this country.

The problem posed by illegal migration is quite enormous. The perpetrators are usually subjected to hard underpaid jobs, prostitution, torture and even death. They sometimes fall prey to cannibals or human organs black market. Precisely, migrants endure so much inhumanity and indignity. One lady who such an excruciating experience said, “If I ever see a woman wanting to take this route, I will ask her to kill herself instead.”

The difficulties faced by Africans, especially Nigerians, on their route to Europe through the Sahara Desert is terribly horrible. Many young Nigerians, mostly those who are hit by the menace of unemployment and poverty, nurture the dream of migrating to almighty Europe. They assume that arriving there will give a deadly blow to their lingering sufferings.

A Gory Adventure

This adventure, in search of a better life, usually ends in bitter life or death. The main causes of this negative development have been identified as poverty, high rates of unemployment and poor governance. Also, porous borders, social injustice, war, the illusion of prosperity in Europe contribute.

We know that young persons are normally adventurous and daring, but all things should have a limit. We know that extreme poverty can compel a person to embark on irrational ventures, but migrating to Europe illegally should be an exception. Migration has the capacity to hurl a person into a calamitous circle. They could be stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Migrants from Africa on the Mediterranean Sea

Only God knows the number of Africans who have perished in the Sahara desert and Mediterranean sea. New records by the International Organization for Migration indicate that over 6,600 Africans have died in the past five years. However, the study indicates that these numbers are “just the tip of the iceberg.”

The Shocking Statistics


International Organization for Migration spokesman, Joel Millman, says,

“Starvation, dehydration, physical abuse, sickness and lack of access to medicines are causes of death on routes within Africa”.

He also said,

“Involvement with human smugglers can put people in extremely risky situations. People have little agency to protect themselves, let alone fellow travelers they see being abused.”

The statistics available indicate that Nigerian migrants account for the highest number of arrivals in Italy by sea. About 17,000 Nigerians compared to 99,127 total migrants of all countries arrive in Italy between January and August 2017. This is a gruesome scenario indeed.

Most of the persons that embark on this pyrrhic voyage are young persons from underdeveloped countries. And this despicable trend poses great threat to the growth and survival of those countries in terms of human resources.

This is the situation that gave birth to what we call brain drain. Many educated or professional people relocate to places that give them better pay or living conditions. Majority of the victims of this devastating trend are vigorous persons. People who have the potentials to become great inventors, successful entrepreneurs, and excellent administrators. To cut it short, they have the potentials of becoming nation-builders rather than nation deserters.

Map of the Northern Sahara

How the Scourge can be Tamed?

To curb this ugly trend of illegal migration by Africans, African leaders should be proactive in tackling the causative factors of this trend. They should come up with policies and programs that will transform the lives of Africans, especially youths and women.

The policies and programs should include, but not be limited to, empowerment programs, employment opportunities, and improvement of education. It should focus on making the environment generally conducive and habitable. They can make also social amenities available and accessible by all and sundry. In reality, the scourge of illegal migration requires a concerted domestic and international response.

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