News

    Spain Helping Mauritania Slow Illegal Immigration

    Spanish, Mauritanian governments step up patrols along the coast to stop illegal immigration; Madrid helps Nouakchott with an annual budget of $750 million and a small plane to keep watch on immigration routes.

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Spain is helping Mauritania fight the illegal immigration of Africans trying to reach Europe.  The number of those trying the dangerous ocean crossing are down, but many young Africans remain determined to make the trip.

    The northern city of Nouadhibou is Mauritania's commercial capital. But its proximity to the Spanish-controlled Canary Islands also makes it a center for illegal immigration in West Africa.

    Bamba Zoumana traveled overland from his home in Mali to join other West Africans trying to make the nearly 1,000 kilometers to the Canary Islands on a small wooden boat. They were turned back to Nouadhibou. But Zoumana says he will try again.

    Zoumana says in his own country no one respects you because you have no money. So he made the final decision to leave for his family.  It is a choice between reaching Europe and dying in the ocean. If you die, your family loses. But if you reach Europe, Zoumana says, your family wins.

    Some of the people who do not make it to Europe then decided to stay at home. But not Zoumana. He says he should be there. But if he does not succeed, he says he is obliged to do his best for his son to reach Europe.

    The Spanish and Mauritanian governments have stepped up patrols along the coast to stop that illegal immigration. Madrid is helping Nouakchott with an annual budget of nearly $750 million and a small plane to keep watch on immigration routes.

    Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Miguel Angel Moratinos was the first European foreign minister to visit Mauritanian President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz after his election earlier this year. Moratinos announced plans to strengthen development assistance for fishing, agriculture, and health as well as strategic cooperation on fighting illegal migration, terrorism, and smuggling.

    Ahmed Ould Khayer runs a non-governmental organization in Nouadhibou that helps illegal immigrants who are waiting to be returned to their home countries.

    Because most of the people trying to emigrate illegally from Nouadhibou are not Mauritanians, Khayer says they live in the country in secret, making their cases difficult to follow. Khayer says his group's research shows the number of people trying to get to Europe illegally has fallen by nearly 80 percent as a result of renewed efforts to secure the coastline.

    Malian Diara Oumaro knows it is a dangerous trip. But he is in Nouadhibou getting ready to go.

    Oumaro says illegal immigrants are paying boatmen between $700 and $1,000 for passage to the Canary Islands. Many of his friends and neighbors died at sea in 2006 and 2007. But he is determined to try.

    Everyone loves Europe, Oumaro says. In Africa now, if you have a job you are saving money to try to get to Europe. If you don't have money, you take small jobs in construction, and as soon as you have enough money, you try to reach Europe because in Europe, Oumaro says, you can make a lot of money and come back home.

    Yahya Cisse, who heads a group of young Malians in Nouadhibou, says illegal immigration is a problem for everyone - for the home countries of migrants, for Mauritania, and for Spain.

    Cisse says people in Mali know nothing about the ocean. If they knew how dangerous it was, he says, maybe they would not take the risk. In Mauritania, he says Malians must be better informed about the dangers and better prevented from trying the ocean crossing. As for Spain, he says there are some Spanish nationals who are accomplices in illegal immigration who play down the risks of the trip to get money from people desperate for what they hope will be a better life in Europe.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora