Back Way: is it worth the risk?



In March 2018,while I was visiting Moroccojust out of curiosity – I made a courtesy-calls to makeshift migrant’s camps in Fess and Casablanca. Approximately each camp has the capacity to shelterup to five hundred people. First they were visibly reluctant to talk to me however slowly I managed to convince them that I was not a journalist and I was not associated with any government.  Hence eventually a constructive conversation started between us. They weremainly youths from Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, Senegal and The Gambia. Can you imagine; they were entirely depending on local handouts for survivals. I never saw people living in suchawfulconditions in my life.

I asked them where they were going. Without hesitation they responded, “we are going to Europe”. Again, I asked them:going to Europe for what? As you can imagine they said, “we are going to Europe hoping for a better future”.How much would it cost from here to Europe for each individual? A man with dreadlocks who claimed to be their leader in the camp came closer to me and whispered that it could range from $4,000 to $6,000 adding that itdepended on how fastone wanted to reach Europe.What struck me the most was that when I asked them if it was worth taking such a risk, bearing in mind the rough sea ahead and the hostile political climate in Europe concerning the issue of immigration, they responded emphatically with the following:“We would ratherdie in the sea than to return home! And return home for what?!”

Based on that first hand experience,I knew they were not doing this forfun. Theygenuine believe that Europe is the only place where a better future lies for them. And that is understandable, because to earn the title (Semester) in our society has truly integrated with our modern concept of success,where African youths will risk anything to reachmainland Europe one way or the other.Such activities by desperate people isan international phenomenon. Last month,39 migrants from Vietnamfroze to death in a truck whilstbeingsmuggled into the UK. Similar incidents across the world arecommon.

After my encounter with destitute youths in Morocco who live in such terrible conditions,I felt compelled to do something about it. This year from January until June,I organised a series of conferences every month at American Corner along Kairaba Avenue where I invited Gambian youths to join me and have a constructive debate about mass immigration. I advertised my initiativeover the radiostations and social media. In spite of this, aside from my family and a few friends no one showedany interest. I even went to the lengthsofpublishing a small book where I spelt out the positive and the negative aspects of immigration with compelling evidence. I distributed that book in different places throughout the country though I am unsure as to whetherit would make any difference to ambitious youths who are keen to add the title of “Semester”to their last names.

Again, I don’t thinkgovernment intervention would mitigate risky migration.In reality, even European governments have run out of ideas as to how to tackle the migrant crisison the continent. This is a wider societal problem. Perhaps it will take many generations to find the solution. But until then the only winners are the human traffickers who would often brainwash the youths by inflating their dreams and give them false hope that it is only the Mediterranean Sea which standsbetween them and becoming a millionaire in a few weeks. May all departed souls who perish in the sea rest in the eternal peace.
Yaya Sillah


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