By Omar Bah
A respected Gambian migration activist based in Germany has called on African governments to ask the European Union to stop harassing migrants.
Yahya Sonko told The Standard yesterday that African leaders should start blaming the European Union instead of their citizens who are taking irregular routes to look for basic human needs that Africa was deprived of by its slave masters.
“As a Gambian Germany-based migration activist, I am calling on my government and other African heads to emulate Ghanaian president Nana Akufo-Addo who in 2018 spoke against the cold-hearted treatment of African migrants in Europe. The Ghanaian president did not mince words when he criticised the inhumane and abusive treatment of African migrants in Europe,” Sonko said. He said the Ghanaian president made those comments when the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini, called on him at the Presidency during his time as Italian prime minister.
“The Ghanaian head of state had emphasized that it was unacceptable for our African youths to be treated in that manner simply because they were irregular immigrants in the EU. He told Italian authorities that in the 19th Century, Europeans, including Italians, fled to the United States in their numbers due to poverty because their countries, in those days, were not considered as countries of opportunities.”
According to Sonko, the phenomenon of migration in Africa is no different from the phenomenon of migration in their history.
“The connection between migration and poverty is direct. Both EU and African governments should take irregular migration with seriousness instead of politicising it. Irregular migration is a global problem and a global problem needs a global solution. European Union and African governments should join hands in addressing the root causes of irregular migration, preventing and fighting smuggling and trafficking, strengthening protection for people fleeing their homes, improving cooperation on return and reintegration, and advancing the possibilities for legal migration so that fewer Africans might try dangerous irregular migration,” he added.
Reports from survivors related to IOM indicate that at least 252 people have died during alleged forced expulsions by European authorities, also known as pushbacks, since 2021.
According to reports, beyond a structural failure to provide adequate safe pathways, missing migrants project records show that many of the deaths on migratory routes to destination countries in Europe could have been prevented by prompt and effective assistance to migrants in distress.