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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora