News / Africa

Italy Accident Draws Attention to African Migrants' Plight

The body of a drowned migrant is being unloaded from a Coast Guard boat in the port of Lampedusa, Italy, Oct. 3, 2013.
The body of a drowned migrant is being unloaded from a Coast Guard boat in the port of Lampedusa, Italy, Oct. 3, 2013.
Pamela Dockins
The boat accident near the Italian island of Lampedusa that resulted in what is feared to be more than 300 deaths is part of a broader problem involving African migrants who risk dangerous voyages to seek a better life.  

Jumbe Omari Jumbe, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, says there are four "gates" used by Africans who are trying to escape their homelands or the continent.

Recent Maritime Accidents Involving Migrants

-October 3, 2013:  Estimates of 300 people dead or missing after boat catches fires and capsizes near Italian island of Lampedusa. 
 
-September 27, 2013: At least 21 asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East, killed after boat bound for Australia sinks off Indonesia's coast. 
 
-December 18, 2012: Boat carrying migrants capsized off Somali coast. U.N. Refugee agency says as many as 55 people killed.
 
-December 16, 2012: Migrant boat traveling from Turkey to Greece capsized. At least 20 people killed.
 
-September 6, 2012: Boat carrying illegal immigrants sinks near western Turkey. At least 58 people drown. 
He says the main gate is used by migrants in the Horn of Africa region who are trying to reach Yemen and then possibly travel to Saudi Arabia.

The second gate also involves Horn of Africa migrants, who pass through Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe to reach South Africa.

He says the third gate involves migrants from West Africa, who pass through Morocco to reach Spain and other destinations in Europe.

And finally, there is what he calls the "Mediterranean Gate."

“Here, many Africans who are fleeing persecution.  It’s a mixed flow of migrants.  Some of them are actually trying to seek better lives in Europe.  They make Libya a transit to reach Italy and sometimes Malta and other parts of southern Europe," said Jumbe.

He says many migrants rely on smugglers for the perilous voyage across the sea.

The United Nations refugee agency says the Mediterranean has some of world's busiest sea crossings and is a "dangerous frontier for migrants and asylum-seekers."

In a July release, the office of the High Commissioner for Refugees estimated about 8,400 migrants and asylum-seekers had reached Italy and Malta this year.

It said most of them had departed from North Africa, mainly Libya.

The refugee agency says about 500 migrants died or went missing as they attempted the crossing last year.  In 2011, at the height of unrest in Tunisia and Libya, more than 1,500 migrants died or went missing.

”It is a real shame that people, particularly those who are fleeing violence, conflict, persecution are ending up dead just simply because they want to flee and reach safety somewhere else.  This is unacceptable," said agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.

Fleming says migrants will continue to risk these dangerous journeys as long as persecution, conflict and violence continue in their home countries.

"They are going to seek asylum, to seek refuge, to seek safety in other countries.  They should not have to resort to taking careless sea journeys where their lives are at stake," she said.

Fleming says the plight of migrants needs to be a priority by the international community.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Love from: Seattle
October 07, 2013 5:35 PM
Help Eritrea !!


by: john from: nigeria
October 04, 2013 6:20 AM
Just believe that with God there will be an end with this issue of migrating from your country to the other for a better living. The risk is just too much.


by: tecleberhan from: germany
October 03, 2013 8:47 PM
Jumbe omari jumbe with all respect, why you dont mentioned ethiopians? Monthly they flee thouthrnds to yemen. How you didnt know this daily history.be fair speak true .not only eritreans and somlians.but majoriy ethiopians.live for truth.
We are fed up with unfair propoganda.
With regards

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid