Every year thousands of North Africans and Sub-Saharan Africans risk all to cross into Europe in desperation for a better life. Last year alone over 45,000 migrants reached the shores of Spain and Italy. The journey is often hazardous with hundreds of individuals cramped into make-swift rafts meant for 1/3 of the load. Food is scare and the navigator often is a local fisherman with little knowledge of the seas. An already delicate situation quickly turns dangerous when storms emerge, the raft is off-course, food runs out or fights break out; or any combination of the aforementioned.
In light of this the sad news this week that hundreds of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean Sea should not be shocking as depressing as it is. This week over 700 hundred people on what is to be believed four boats sailed from the Libyan coast in hopes of reaching Italy.
A sandstorm followed them out to sea with devastating effect. After searching for more than two days, Libyan officials fished out 100 bodies and found one the of the boats with 350 people on board. That boat was lucky, the others are believed to have drowned. Over 300 people, including women and children, are believed to have been lost at sea; according to the International Organization for Migration.
This tragedy raises awareness once again of the perils that migrants encounter on their journey to what they hope will be a better life. This year alone there have been other cases of death in the Mediterranean and a boat full of starved-to-death migrants headed for Europe sailed off course and came ashore on the Caribbean.
Why are there so many tragedies? For starters there are many more migrants attempting to sneak into Europe. In an effort to squeeze profit, human traffickers are nonchalant about cramming boats particularly when they do not sail with the migrants, but just push them ashore. Add to the poor, crammed boats the variable of a hard journey.
As European governments cracked down on the previously main and relatively easy navigational routes, traffickers have had to devise new routes that are much more difficult to sail through. All of this has lead to the increased number of deaths estimated at 10-20 per 1,000 migrants.
This issue of migration cannot be solved alone via border protection. Prosperity must be planted in the home countries of migrants so they do not risk their lives for Europe. But that is easier said than done and it currently seems that European governments are more interested in investing in border control than development packages for Africa.