The horrors of today are not the barrels of guns but the mass travel of resilient youths in Africa to overseas.
Africa irregular immigrants are Africans who seek to travel to other countries for greener pastures.
Withn the fact that their countries are weak economically, unemployed or they see no hopes in their countries.
Mostly African immigrants are from developing countries that have admired developing countries and see better opportunities in other land than theirs.
I first heard about the African immigrant issue when I was seven years old back in the Gambia.
Where young men would raise some amount of money to travel through the Sahara Desert or through the Mediterranean Sea to escape the hardship of Their country.
It was reported that most irregular immigrants travelled through the dessert in the 1990s but this was achieved by few people who had enough food and drinks or strong to continue the journey.
Literally, 80% end up dying at the Sahara Desert and this led to the massive use of the Mediterranean Sea hence it was faster and assured.
Are we to judge these journeys or are we to ponder and highlight some of the pressing factors that urge the migration of these people?
Some of the reasons were highlighted; those who come from the south, are migrants that flee the vestiges of wars that have left entire nations in ruin.
From the east, they escape a life of indefinite military servitude and violent conflict.
From the west, they evade destitution and governments that arbitrarily jail whomever they please. Some arrive by choice, others by force but Libya is where most migrants prepare to face the deadliest stretch of the Mediterranean Sea normally called ‘The Gateway to Heaven’.
According to Lorenzo Melony; the country’s 1,100-mile coastline has effectively become an open border without government forces to monitor who comes and who goes.
Smugglers have filled the void, willing to tightly pack hundreds of migrants at a time into flimsy vessels and shuttle them to Italy.
Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals has reached 10,308 in 2019; Deaths Reach 234. A massive wave of migration is crashing through North Africa, and there is only one major gateway to Europe and it’s through Libya.
The largest flow of modern African migration funnels through this single country.
Please listen the story below and learn from the testimony of past immigrants and the horrors they encountered making the journey.
The journey will drag them through several layers of hell before their toes even touch the sea. Anonymously said.
Back in The Gambia, we normally called it ‘Backway’, hence the journey is not through the right way and in Sierra Leone, we call it ‘Temple Run’ claiming the fact that it is die trying.
It is reported that African irregular Migration has not only become an alarming issue globally but has resulted to so many deaths not only through the Mediterranean seas but through the countries they pass to access Europe.
The transition route which is Libya has been in disorder since the death of their former president Muamar Gadafi. The state has become stateless with over three factions ruling the country in a chaotic system. Each faction has autonomy controlled by different arm groups making it very dangerous for African immigrants using that particular route.
This has led to the capture of thousands of African immigrants who tried to make it through the route in Libya.
They are not only arrested and detained by the the militias from Lybia but they are also tortured, sold as slaves and most times butchered to extract some parts like Kidneys, Heart etc for the purpose of selling.
Captured migrants from sub-Saharan countries are taken to detention centres across Libya.
Humanitarian groups alleged that some migrants are held as long as four years without seeing any judicial review.
It is pity seeing my fellow youths dying through such ways because they no longer have confidence in their government anymore.
Apart from the horrible stories they face in the transitional centres, back in the days most African immigrants who were unfortunate to make it to Europe but fortunate enough to be alive came with weird stories that left the people in shock.
Some came with stories of how an entire boat was turned in the middle of the night and in the middle of the Ocean.
Some even claimed that there where series of times were mystical and weird creature sat among them in the boats without saying a word; therefore, anyone who utters a word to the weird creature drowns in the sea.
Most people who on-board the boats kept mute when it is night time, and they never believe each other till the sunrise. They hardly speak to themselves at night.
The sailor normally tells everyone on board to keep mute and refrain from making any move or sound if that particular person spots anything apart from usual things.
Others brought stories that literally shocked everyone.
The other claimed that whenever a boat is battling with storms and high angry waves at the sea at midnight, a ship from nowhere will suddenly appear with people on-board ready to help them; but these people are not actually people, the entire ship and the people in it were just their imaginations. This is among the reasons why when some of them return, they either end up mad or they get mental issues.
The beautiful story is that after all the end of the horrors, those that were still alive end up making it to the dreamland but the story of the African immigrant is just getting started.
Some actually do not have skills and normally pick out odd jobs in order to sustain themselves.
Luckily some have relatives there and others with the little skills they have; they are employed at the end of the day.
This story I got from my childhood friends who were living in the Gambia and all of them I knew, all of them have made it to Europe through the illegal way and today they are texting and calling me, telling me about the horrors they went through.
I also want to use this opportunity to acknowledge the friends I lost in the Mediterranean Sea; though they have gone but the fight for development lives on and so I want all youths to see the reality in Africa that we can still live a happy life in Africa and if we want it so bad then we can still use the legal means.
The Mediterranean is now a vast unmarked grave to thousands of migrant lives lost at sea.
More than 3,000 people have died crossing the most treacherous point of the Mediterranean, where Libya’s northern shore connects to the string of islands surrounding the Italian coast.
Unfortunately, in the entire African continent, Eritrea is the country that sends the highest number of migrants to Europe. Nearly 40,000 migrants fled Eritrea three years ago, escaping a government notorious for one of the worst human rights records in the world and for condemning citizens to lifetime of mandatory military service.
Five out of the six countries that border Libya have either been engulfed in war or are in the midst of violent unrest.
In order to reach the ports that serve as the gateways to Europe, migrants first must spend months, even years, criss-crossing the Sahara or the countries still raw from violent armed conflicts.
Men vastly outnumber women along the migrant routes that cross the Sahara. Those women arrested by Libyan authorities are taken to separate detention quarters from the men.
What many migrants do not know is that their journey will drag them through several layers of hell before their toes even touch the sea.
In one of Lorenzo Melony’s articles, he claimed that ‘The desert has turned into a massive hub for human smuggling, with migrants shuttled between refugee camps, stash houses, even tucked inside the hollowed-out centre of a merchant’s lorry. Those who survive share horror stories of kidnappers who held them for ransom, waiting hours, days, or weeks until families back home or in Europe opened up their pocketbooks once again.’
‘Conditions inside Libya have deteriorated since the citizen uprising against Gaddafi and the government’s collapse in 2014.
Armed conflict between two rivalling factions has engulfed the country as they fight for legitimacy.
The chaos has caused a massive displacement of hundreds of thousands of Libyans who are now left without work or a place to call home.’
‘Migrants caught in the crossfire are often used as pawns in the power struggle. Thousands languish in overcrowded detention centres on any given day, and allegations of torture and unsanitary conditions have led to concerns of widespread human rights violations.’
African irregular migration is a growing problem and it has to be taken seriously by the international community or it would lead to insecurity and the rebirth of slavery.
Thanks to the IOM for playing their own part in making the world a better place.
Thanks to the Migrants as Messenger for taking us through such a wonderful session on irregular Migration.
Note: I wrote this 3 years ago.