This illegal migration is gradually becoming a global crisis which will soon become uncontrollable if urgent steps are not taken. And Africa is contributing more to this crisis than any other region or continent.
Irrespective of how we look at it, man is essentially itinerant. It is part of human nature to move from one geographical location to another. And this has been happening from time immemorial; a phenomenon which resulted in the dispersion of man across the planet earth. Man will always migrate to any part of the world, as long as that portion accommodates life and can support sustenance. This brings us to one of the major reasons why man is always on the move – survival.
Proliferation of technology, which started in the late 20th century has further aided migration. The breaking of barrier in communication and transportation has led to the upsurge of people crossing borderlines from the South to the West, East to South, etc. People can now easily access other countries through land, rail, air and water. This has also seen nations evolve policies and laws to control the flow of people in and out of their shores.
The shrinking of the world through the process of globalisation made possible by increasing technological advancement has been of immense benefit to man, as we are now easily able to learn from one another and increase our mastery over nature. Just as there’s inequality within the smallest social unit, there’s great inequality in the globalising world, which also informs the nature and flow of migration. As time went by, it became necessary for countries to restrict this movement through their different migration laws. But because of that instinctive urge for survival, some have resorted to breaking those barriers imposed by migration laws, thereby creating a new problem of illegal migration.
In order to discourage indiscriminate migration, a number of these developed economies are putting stringent immigration laws in place to dissuade people from wanting to enter their countries
Today, two major factors account for illegal migration. One is economic survival. As stated earlier, this remains the major reason why people move from one place to another. This has, however, intensified as global economic inequality among countries heightened. That is why we have thousands of people leaving the African continent to countries of Europe and the Americas in search of a better life. Between seven and eight million irregular African immigrants are living in the EU resulting from the search of a better life.
The second factor that accounts for the surge in migration is political instability and crises. People are moving en masse from war torn and crises riddled countries to where they can find safety and security. A lot of people are currently moving from Somalia, Congo DRC, Libya and other crises riddled countries to neighbouring countries for security and survival. This is also not peculiar to Africa. Currently in the Middle East, a lot of movement is going on place as people are fleeing Yemen, Syria, Iraq into Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other countries that are relatively peaceful.
In order to discourage indiscriminate migration, a number of these developed economies are putting stringent immigration laws in place to dissuade people from wanting to enter their countries. For instance, Britain has in recent years tightened its regulations to reduce illegal immigrants by tightening laws on family and students visas, as reported by The Economist. Every year, thousands of illegal immigrants, most of whom are usually Africans, are deported from those countries. Despite these efforts, illegal immigration has surged. These travelers keep inventing new ways of moving across borders.
Smugglers are taking advantage of an already precarious situation, as these migrants are made to pay varying sums before they are transported.
Just last month the world recorded its largest migration crisis where over 1000 people perished in the Mediterranean Sea. People know the risks associated with taking these routes. But they still embark on the journey anyway. While they flee unpleasant conditions in their home countries, they are exposed to grave dangers en route a destination that is without an open arm to welcome them. As the number of illegal migrants has surged in recent times, so have the associated risks. The media has been flooded with reports of drowning migrants who are trying to make their way into Europe, sparking a new wave of humanitarian crisis in the countries involved in the rescue efforts. Close to 2,000 migrants have been reported killed in the process of crossing from Africa to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea between January and April 2015.
This illegal migration is gradually becoming a global crisis which will soon become uncontrollable if urgent steps are not taken. And Africa is contributing more to this crisis than any other region or continent. Some European countries like Italy and Spain have been involved in search-and-rescue of migrants on the Mediterranean Sea. One of the suggestions the EU is considering to address this problem is the destruction of ships used for this dangerous and illegal expedition. This appears to be an extreme measure. But it shows that some of the European countries are becoming frustrated with these illegal expeditions.
Two important reasons why this would be a bit difficult to deal with is the evolving commercial dimension of the phenomenon. Smugglers are taking advantage of an already precarious situation, as these migrants are made to pay varying sums before they are transported. Secondly, the social, economic and political situations in the home countries of the migrants are not getting better. Poverty and political unrests have become reoccurring decimals in most African countries. A combined efforts of global leaders would be required to resolve the problem. However, the greater responsibility lies with leaders of the troubled countries in Africa.
Africa is confronted with numerous problems. The continent must not allow this one get out hand. It is bad enough that for many years we have relied on aids from countries of the West. It is high time we started solving our own problems. In the least, Nigeria and South Africa, the two giants of the continent ought to at this point be able to lead other smaller countries out the doldrums. However, a new kind of leadership is required for this task, which the people must find a way to produce. The 4Cs of competence, courage, commitment and credibility are imperatives of that kind of leadership. I am embarrassed that many years after colonialism, we have not shown enough evidence that we can successfully govern ourselves.
Mr. Adetiba, a graduate student at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, is a staff of Premium Times. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter: @fredor4c