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Failed West African Migrants Vow to Try Again


Tens of thousands of West Africans have been picked up on European islands, this year, and hundreds of others have died at sea. They left on pirogues, trying to find better prospects in Europe, but failed. Many who were caught but survived vow to try again, despite efforts to organize an intelligence crackdown. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from Dakar in this the second report in a five-part series on migration-related issues.

Modou Diop has become somewhat of a celebrity in the fishing village, Thiaroye, not too far from the capital on the Atlantic Ocean coastline. After scraping together enough money for a voyage on a pirogue, he says he tried - even if he failed.

"My experience was a bitter one," he said. "Even before leaving, my mother went through a lot just for me to go. But, unfortunately, I never reached Spain as our boat had a problem and one of us died at sea. I am now back; but, if given another chance with a better facility, I will go again as we have nothing to do here. Look at all my friends. They are sitting doing nothing, only playing football. There is no work and nothing to help our parents with."

Many people sell family property, jewelry, clothes - animals to pay for the voyage, which sometimes costs several thousand dollars.

They have no guarantees. They know many have failed. They know they can get caught as soon as they arrive. But still they try.

Saidou Diallo is a farmer from the southern Casamance region. He says his crops have been doing badly, so he figured he would try to make it to Europe, because he really had nothing to lose.

He says they made it to the Spanish Canary Islands on the ninth day of the trip. He was immediately caught by Spanish border police and put on a plane back to Senegal.

He says he has no formal education, but that he can cook and drive and also farm and that, if given a chance, he is sure he could succeed in Europe.

He says his friends and family paid for his voyage and that they were disappointed to see him back, so soon.

He says when he finds money, he will try again.

Others who were sent back organized protests - holding up signs with misspelled words, pleading for government help. Officials in the capital, Dakar, and nervous residents in affluent neighborhoods say some banded as petty thieves, causing a rise in criminality.

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