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African Students Share Mixed Feelings on Clandestine Migration

African university students are expressing mixed feelings about other youths who try to go to Europe illegally, seeking better opportunities. They feel privileged compared to those who risk their lives on pirogues in the Atlantic Ocean, but also fearful for their own future. In the fourth report of a five-part series on migration-related issues, VOA's Nico Colombant reports from the Cheikh Anta Diop University campus in downtown Dakar.

Abdoulaye Pam is in the department of economics and management, and dreams of one day running his own accounting firm. He says he wants a big house, a nice wife and well educated children.

But he says he is not well connected and that Senegal is impoverished, with very few opportunities.

"The situation in which we are living here is so difficult. People are tired. Here the game of life is so hard to play," he explains.

He understands those who sell everything they own for a chance to make it in Europe.

"People cannot have a job. Finding a job is so difficult here. That is why people take this kind of risk to want to go to Europe. They prefer to go to Europe in order to hustle [invigorate] their life," he says.

He says others who criticize them for abandoning everything should be more attentive to their pleas. "Why do people take this kind of risk?" he asks. "It is because they stay a day without eating, without drinking. Their life is so miserable. People are suffering."

Alioune Swaibou is also suffering. He says he is a political exile from nearby Chad, which is torn by conflict. But, he says his life is too precious to risk on a pirogue.

Swaibou blames criminal networks for exciting dispossessed youths, taking their money and throwing them into uncertain situations.

Some university students say African governments should do more to boost agriculture and other labor-intensive sectors.

But law student Astou Combo also says young Africans should become more responsible for their own future.

She says they should not be spending their energy to go and develop Europe, but fight that much harder to develop their own country - even if it is poor.

Another student, Bandara Diop, thinks along the same lines.

He says however hard it is, people should love their own country, serve it, work for it and fight to change it from within, rather than leave.