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

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe 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.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs