A boat carrying more than 100 African migrants arrived on Monday at the Italian island of Lampedusa. It is a familiar sight. Many of them were on the verge of total exhaustion. They were the fortunate ones. It is the same story in the Spanish Canary Islands. This year alone, tens of thousands have risked their lives fleeing Africa in makeshift boats. Thousands haven’t survived the voyage. Ghost ships whose entire crews have perished at sea have washed up as far away as Barbados.
Since patrols were stepped up in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, the Canary Islands and Lampedusa have been flooded with Africans looking for a better life in Europe. Spain, Italy and Malta have asked the EU for help in stemming this flood of migrants. More patrols have been promised.
But the reason migrants go to such terrible lengths lies with the situation in African countries. Aminata Traore is the founder of ‘Return, Work, Dignity’, an association that receives repatriated illegal migrants in Mali. She believes the problem must be solved at its roots.
“Europe has to put in place the infrastructure here, create factories and jobs” No measures have yet been implemented by European countries to provide these would-be migrants with alternatives. “I would prefer now to stay here and die of hunger than suffer the same humiliation” says one man, sent back to Mali after trying to reach Europe. Until European leaders work with their African counterparts to create better conditions, the reason will remain for many Africans to risk their lives to reach Europe.