• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Japa: 300,000 West African migrants risk lives annually on dangerous routes

Japa: 300,000 West African migrants risk lives annually on dangerous routes

Each year, approximately 300,000 West African migrants embark on perilous journeys through the Sahara Desert and across the Mediterranean Sea, risking their lives in search of better opportunities in Europe and other developed nations.

Despite the significant dangers, including exploitation, human trafficking, and the threat of death, the flow of irregular migration shows no signs of abating, according to a 2023 report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The IOM report highlighted the severe risks migrants face, including an estimated 5,000 deaths annually.

While migrants contribute to cultural exchange and diversity in host countries, they encounter significant challenges in integration, discrimination, and legal hurdles.

Read also: Nigerian migrants flee Sudan war, abandon studies and businesses

This surge in migration, according to the report is driven by high youth unemployment rates, which average 12.8% across West African countries, with Nigeria reporting a 19.6% rate in 2023, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

It also noted that many West African youth seek higher education and vocational training opportunities not readily available in their home countries.

The phenomenon, known as the ‘Japa Syndrome,’ sees skilled Nigerians leaving for Europe and other developed countries. This issue was raised by Teresa Boteli of the IOM during a plenary presentation, noting the increasing rate of youth migration through dangerous routes.

In response, the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) expressed concern and is strategising ways to halt this trend.

At the First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament 2024 in Abuja, presided over Memounatou Ibrahima, by the Speaker, lawmakers discussed investing in the skills and capacities of West African youth to benefit the sub-region.

Jibrin Barau, Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, attributed the migration to conflicts, economic crises, and youth unemployment in the region.

He called for collective efforts to address these issues.

Benjamin Kalu, Deputy Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, emphasized the need for political will to create jobs, develop the solid mineral sector, and reduce reliance on oil and gas.

Awaji Abiante, Nigerian Member of the Parliament called for introspection into the root causes of youth migration, citing poor governance, corruption, and unaccountable leadership as significant factors.

He stressed the importance of electing credible leaders to manage resources prudently.

Read also: Japa: Cameroon, Niger share top spot for Nigerian migrants with UK, US

Mabinty Funna from Sierra Leone proposed strategies to reduce youth migration, including investing in education, promoting entrepreneurship and skills development, diversifying economies, supporting SMEs and improving the business environment.

Funna also emphasized the importance of developing infrastructure, enhancing trade and cooperation among ECOWAS countries, resolving conflicts, and leveraging digital economy opportunities to create job for young people in the region.

Orlando Diaz from Cape Verde warned that without urgent action, the situation could worsen.