Who wants to travel to Europe?
For almost every ‘hustling’ Nigerian, traveling to Europe is a far better option than having to toil and turn here in Nigeria, at least, for the perceived economic opportunities, functional social systems, and public structures which are, unfortunately, absent in Nigeria just as with most other African countries. While the realities of a dysfunctional Nigeria are glaring, disturbing and unmotivating, many Nigerian youths are choosing to travel to Europe in search of a greener pasture, sadly, they are choosing to travel through the ever dangerous and deadly Niger Republic – Sahara Desert – Libya and Mediterranean sea route, too much journey for a piece of bread.
Every year, no fewer than 2,000 Nigerian youths die in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to cross over to Europe. Just before getting to the threshold of crossing the sea, many lose their lives, livelihood and dignity in Libya through modern slavery, prostitution, sexual assault, human trafficking, gross abuse of human rights and at worse, death. Apparently, for those who die in the Mediterranean Sea or Libya, that is the end of their struggle for survival, sustenance, and success…, living itself is survival. For the thousands who choose to use this route which has been dubbed “illegal” or “irregular,” they certainly have more hurdles to face than the Mediterranean Sea and Libya. The journey through the Sahara Desert is a major lifetime task – you either fight or die. Hot temperature, lack of water, food and basic amenities for weeks and the challenge of an overloaded truck conveying a multitude of Europe hopefuls, most of whom die just before the journey ends.
Survival is, indeed, the first need of life, yet, one needs life in order to survive. What is the value of a Nigerian life? Less than N150,000. That is according to the CNN in a recent video that uncovered a shocking carnage of modern slave trade of Nigerians alongside other nationals in Libya for $400. With this figure and other threats faced by Nigerians who intend to travel illegally to Europe through the Libyan route, it is almost senseless and confusing to know that a majority of them pay a huge sum of money, up to N500,000 to N1million to execute the journey. However, a majority of them end up dead, maimed, abused and reduced to nothing.
Certainly, the cost of illegal migration is more than can be envisaged.
Undoubtedly, Nigerians have a never-say-never spirit, a feat which should be harnessed for home-grown opportunity creation and development. In the midst of the struggle, we can survive and make the best decisions to better our lives.
It is essential that all stakeholders pull up to address critical issues of economic opportunities for the youthful population in order to avoid needless death and wastage of human, social and financial resources through illegal migration.
If you want to travel to Europe or any other part of the world, travel legally.
• Tola Emmanuel.
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