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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs