Skip to comments.Thousands Put Their Lives At Risk To Join Exodus From Africa
Posted on 05/26/2006 7:05:30 PM PDT by blam
Thousands put their lives at risk to join exodus from Africa
By Mike Pflanz in Dakar
Up beyond the rubbish littering the high-tide mark of Senegal's white sand beaches, hundreds of wooden canoes lie askew under the fierce sun, their bright paint slowly fading.
Overfishing by foreign trawlers and the use of narrow-mesh nets by local fishermen have emptied these waters of almost all their high-value catches.
Thousands of young men are desperate to make the trip
So now, some of the boat owners have turned to another, far more lucrative trade: sending thousands of poor West African migrants on the perilous six-day journey in open boats to the Canary Islands, the closest European territory.
This year has seen a sharp increase in the numbers making the 1,100-mile trip. An average of two to three boats a week has now risen to up to 10 a day.
More than 8,200 West Africans have arrived in the Canaries already this year - 2,000 in the first three weeks of May as the seas grew calmer -compared with 4,751 for all of last year. An estimated 1,500 have died this year attempting the crossing.
But for many young men in the village of Thiaroye, a poor seafront suburb six miles east of the Senegalese capital, Dakar, the lure of Europe is irresistible.
Mamadou Oniang, 23, came close to death when he attempted the trip with 81 others early last month.
"We were forced to turn back after seven days because the sea became rough but all the food and water was finished," he said. "I'm sure many people were about to die."
Despite the ordeal, he said he was preparing another attempt, desperate to copy his brother who lives in Italy and sends enough money each month to support the family of 14.
Mamadou Oniang turned back after seven days
A friend, Njenge Niang, 32, described how his two best friends died next to him on another failed trip. "I will still go again," he insisted.
Abdou Ndoye Mbaye, 25, said he had no choice but to attempt the crossing. "You people talk of these boats being dangerous, but for us, we would rather risk death to find a good job in Spain than stay here doing nothing."
The men all talk of how, once across the water, they will be rounded up on the beach in Spain, given new clothes and allowed to walk free into Europe. Friends already there tell them they can earn £400 a month as labourers, metal workers or street sellers. Most dream of becoming mechanics.
Spain can hold illegal migrants for just 40 days and can repatriate them only if it identifies their home country and has an extradition agreement with it. But as there is no such arrangement with Senegal, they are eventually released and allowed to travel freely to the European mainland.
Senegal is not the most destitute of African countries but unemployment nationally is 48 per cent, perhaps more on the coast, and a quarter of the 12 million population live on less than 60p a day.
Villagers said a boat captain wanting to go out fishing would have to invest the equivalent of £200 to buy petrol and hire a crew of four for a three-day outing. If he is lucky, he can make £100.
On the other hand, a large boat can take out 75 illegal migrants, each paying £350. In return for an investment of £6,000 for fuel, water, food and a GPS navigation device, a captain can earn about £20,000 and the chance of a new life in Europe.
The flow of migrants to the Canary Islands has risen six-fold since last year, even though increased security has made the trip more difficult.
Until recently most migrants chose to travel from across West Africa to Morocco and then make the short boat trip across the Strait of Gibraltar.
But the security measures have pushed the embarkation points ever further south, first to Mauritania and now to Senegal.
This week the Senegalese navy doubled its coastal patrols. Middlemen known as "passeurs" have been arrested or gone to ground. But police say they will be back. Yayi Bayam Diouf, a mother whose only son drowned off Tenerife on Feb 12, heads a women's organisation fighting to develop the local economy so that their children stay home instead of fleeing to Europe.
She buys fish from market women along the coast and then sends it inland to neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso in rented refrigerated lorries. She manages to turn a decent profit from sales.
But it is not enough to stem the exodus around her.
She said: "We tell them if they go and die, they leave us with nothing, but they say, 'Mama we have nothing now, we must try to do this thing'."
Well, the fist thing to do is teach that no other culture is better then this.
and tat that if you might be, you are guilty of global warming and need to be stopped and then, you must teach this is more important to learn then your own history since they are better.
What is the religion of these people?
Senegal Religion: 96% Islam, 6% indigenous beliefs, 2% Christian
According to http://www.intersites.co.uk/205/
want to know how to stop it? Begin sinking boats with a 50 cal machine gun. FORCE IS THE ONLY THING THEY UNDERSTAND.
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