Illegal migration – a challenge for Africa


Please allow me space in your great newspaper to express my opinion on the ever increasing rate of African illegal migrants trying to make it to Europe, which has become a big issue that affects both the recipient countries and the continent in many ways. Despite being blessed with a huge amount of natural resources, the continent continues to lose her energetic young men and women who leave in search of greener pasture. The central question remains, what is the cause of this dilemma? Whenever such a question is raised then people begin to point fingers at one another, in mutual recriminations to avoid blame.

Figures released by the Warsaw based EU organisation on migration, Frontex, show that Africans illegally migrating to Europe for the first three months of this year amount to 33,000 with 22,600 coming through Italy. However, most of them were said to be migrants from some North African countries and Sub-Saharan Africa who fled as a result of instability and economic hardship with the hope of a better life and jobs in Europe. The flow of migrants in Spain has significantly dwindled, but Italy’s struggle with the exodus of migrants has been steadily increasing as more and more young Africans are heading for the shores of Lampedussa or Sicily.

Who is responsible for this? The explanation advanced by some is that the youths, particularly Gambian youths, should be blamed for such a problem because they have no cause to leave the country for any other part of the world as the opportunities have been created for them as key players to contribute their quota to the developmement of the continent. They maintained that the youth of Africa should not put themselves at the mercy of perpetrators of neo-colonialism and exploitation.


On the other hand, African governments have also received their fair share of blame for such a problem. Supporters of this view assert that African governments are making little effort to help extricate the continent; the youths in particular from the vicious p cycle of poverty, and more importantly, helping them to realize their potentials as crucial players to both national and continental advancement. They complain that the governments do not create enough job opportunities for the youth that will serve as sufficient incentives for them to stay back home.

Well from a personal viewpoint, I believed it all boils down to the lack of love for our continent. As stated by one of your letter writers in your last edition, “unless we hate what we are not, we will not love what we are and our destiny as a people will continue to be shaped by aliens who have no clue of where we started”.

Many people, in and outside Africa, have now perfected the art of  paying lip service to the promotion of African development and prosperity, but practical demonstration of such service is indeed acutely lacking. It is high time that we worked hard in making the best use of our resources for our socio-economic development.

However, this is the task of all and sundry, it is the responsibility of the youth to make sure that they play their quota to the development of our continent. With this, they must be ready to take the lead and be brave enough to face the challenges. But it is equally the responsibility of African governments to create the enabling environment for the youth to take the lead. This can only be realized if our governments put youth empowerment on top of their development agenda. This, I believe, is the surest way to tackle this daunting task.

Lamin Jawla