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‘Nigeria Must Show More Concern Over Migrants Deaths On The Mediterranean’

By Kamal Tayo Oropo
17 May 2015   |   4:06 am
At least 1800 migrants have died this year alone, whilst trying to make the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. The number is believed to be 20 times that of 2014 for the same period. These are people who move from their home countries to seek better life in other countries.

Mr. Bunmi MakinwaAt least 1800 migrants have died this year alone, whilst trying to make the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. The number is believed to be 20 times that of 2014 for the same period. These are people who move from their home countries to seek better life in other countries.

Alarming, as the causalities may appear, the attempt, according to former regional director (Africa) of the United Nations Population (UNFPA), Mr. Bunmi Makinwa, will continue forever. Makinwa, who spoke to The Guardian, said people move for all kinds of reasons – political, economic, social, religious or sheer adventure.

But added that the migrants, who have received, and continue to receive global attention in the recent past, are mainly economic migrants. He noted that the world is still at a loss about how to stem the tide of these migrants seeking entry mostly into Europe, informing that over the past four months and during this year alone, about 20,000 migrants tried to cross into Europe.

“The figure is huge, considered against the numbers in all previous years for the same duration of months. This is hugely disturbing.

Every well-meaning person should be concerned. Nigeria should be concerned. Our government especially should be worried, and, along with other governments, whose citizens are victims of these circumstances, should be at the forefront of the discussion on how to resolve this issue,” urged Makinwa.

While urging Nigerian government to get seriously involved in the discussion, Makinwa stressed that Nigerians are among the huge numbers both for attempting to cross the dangerous sea, as well as, amongst the deaths.

“This means that Nigerians are among the troubled, desperate, suffering groups of people who, even when they arrive overseas, do not find any meaningful sustenance. In many cases, it is a continuing disaster.

Nigeria needs to be concerned purely from a humanitarian point of view. Large numbers of Africans are amongst these migrant populations hailing from countries such as – Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, Senegal, South Sudan, and Somalia.” He continued: “From Asia and Arab regions, there are also large numbers of people who seek economic improvement in other lands. Yes, we must look after the interest of our country.

We cannot close our eyes to the suffering of other humans.”

He called on non-governmental organisations, particularly the media and rights activists, to do more in bringing the global migrant dilemma into sharper focus. “What makes people abandon their home countries to embark on unsafe expedition by land and sea to seek a better life in foreign lands?

What should be done to enlighten people on the dangers of such journeys, on the reality of such a journey and hopelessness of their dreams?”

According to Makinwa, particular attention must be put to bear on the mode of making such journeys, including the transit countries that make them so dangerous.

“What are the interests and businesses that profit from the desperation, taking advantage of peoples’ hope and dreams? What policies and laws should be in place in home countries of migrants to prevent such wrong transactions? What kind of communication and education should be targeted at societies, communities to explain the reality and discourage such risky adventures?”

The 28-member countries, under the aegis of the European Union, may have commenced facing up to the issue of what countries of arrival should be doing to reduce the risk, discourage the dangerous trips and mitigate the negative impact that arrival migrants face. Naturally, European countries, according to Makinwa, would wish to protect their national interests.

“It appears that their best case scenario would simply be to return migrants to their home countries. It is not an easy solution, however, as social activists and interest groups even within these countries canvass for some understanding of migrants.

Many countries, including European countries, have benefitted from migration, including acceptance of economic migrants. In the face of declining economic situation, Europe is faced with discouraging migrants, and oftentimes using the refusal of migrants to score political advantage. And at a purely humanitarian level, there is a strong case to be made for acceptance of migrants.”