The Perils of Escaping Africa will Persist

I just read an article today about a boat capsizing off of the Italian island of Lampedusa.  It is reported that at least 110 people died.  Almost 500 people were packed on the ship.  All of the individuals were in search of a better life.  This island, according to reports on CNN, has become a destination for tens of thousands of refugees seeking to enter European Union countries.  There were Eritreans, Somalis and Ghanaians aboard the ship.

I think about the story behind this mass movement of discontented people.  Eritrea is an African nation in the Horn of Africa with less than 6 million people.  I say this figure without much knowledge of overcrowding or present living conditions.  There is currently no civil war in Eritrea.  The country found independence from Ethiopia after a brutal 30 year war.  The leader, President Isaias Afewerki, keeps the citizens on a permanent state of alert for the possibility of continued warfare with Ethiopia.  Many residents risk life and limb trying to escape.  Those that perished in the sinking made it through Libya and almost to their destination,

The Federal Republic of Somalia is also located in the Horn of Africa.  It has a population of 10 million of which 85% are ethnic Somalis.  Somalia has been without a central government since the collapse of Mohammed Siad Barre's government in 1991.  It has been in a state of civil war in the long interim.  In fact, the al-Shabab arm of al-Qaeda operates out of Somalia.  They claimed responsibility for the recent carnage in Kenya at the Westgate Mall.  In spite of continued unrest, it is reported that Somalia has a healthy informal economy based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies and telecommunications.  About 43% of the population live on less than 1 US dollar a day.  In that case, I can see the reasons to try to escape.

The Commonwealth Republic of Ghana is a sovereign nation-state located on the Atlantic Ocean in Africa. Ghana was inhabited in the Middle Ages by a number of ancient predominantly Akan kingdoms.  In 1874, England established control over some parts of the country.  It was the first African country to gain independence from colonial rule.  Presently, it has the 4th largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa.  Ghana ranks low in terms of corruption and instability.  I think some of the individuals fleeing this country might just need a change of scenery.  I cannot tell from research what might cause emigration from this apparently solid country.

I have read recently about the backlash to immigration from Italians.  The Northern League has proposed controversial immigration laws in an effort to decrease the hordes of individuals trying to enter the country illegally.  Italy's First Black Minister, Cecile Kyenge, has had bananas and terrible racial insults hurled her way by her fellow citizens.  She is an ophthalmologist and obviously intelligent.  Why the hatred from this island, I will never know.  It also shows the desperation of those trying to cross through Italy that it is not a safe haven.  Good luck to those still trying to find happiness in this sometimes cruel world.   Dying at sea in an effort to escape a hopeless life is a tragedy.

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