View Full Version : Looking For Greener Pastures: Headache Of Illegal Immigrants

18th July 2013, 05:14 AM
My friend came to my house just as we finished writing our A Levels exams way back in 1989 to bid me farewell because he was travelling to Europe with another friend through the desert.

It was late in the night and I was very tired but I remember asking him how they were going to do that. He explained that they would travel to Mali or Niger, then through the desert to Morocco where they would cross over to Italy by boat. I pleaded that we just finished the exams so at least they should wait for the release of the results, but my friend Sir Arko Korsah, also known as Akushey, insisted his mind was already made up and that they were leaving that very night.

He realised I was worried and confused, so he assured me that he would write to me as soon as he settled in Italy, Spain, France or the United Kingdom . Twenty four years on, I am still here waiting to hear from Korsah but recently as I follow stories and watch videos on the risks African youths who embark on the desert journey go through, I am very convinced that my friend never made it to Europe; he must have died on the desert with shattered dreams.

Migrants on a boat heading to Europe

Illegal Migration

Every year, thousands of African youth risk their lives daily as they journey through the Sahara desert with hopes of reaching the North African coast, where they take a small boat and sail for a week or two to Europe, their dreamland of greener pastures, liberty and luxurious life.

Many perish on the way through dehydration, starvation, intense heat, sickness and other causes.

The flow of migrants across borders is controlled increasingly by criminal networks. Due to more restrictive immigration policies in destination countries and improved technology to monitor border crossings, willing illegal migrants rely increasingly on the help of organised human smugglers who charge huge amounts of money to get the youth.

The Problem

Virtually every country in the world is affected by the smuggling of migrants and trafficking.

It is critical to note that though persons smuggled are not conventionally referred to as victims, there are situations where their consent to be smuggled becomes vitiated as a result of the treatment meted out to them during the process.

Smugglers and traffickers conduct their activities with little or no regard for the lives of the people they smuggle. The expected financial or other gains are the ultimate motives and concerns and they care less about the lives of the migrant.

In principle, the relationship between a smuggler and a migrant ends once the individual arrives in the new country. However, there is evidence that people smugglers continue to exploit illegal migrants through threats and demands for additional fees.

The Routes

There are at least five known routes along which smugglers have historically moved illegal migrants from West Africa to enter Europe without visas. This is by sea to the Canary Islands (Spain), by land to Spanish North African enclaves (Spain), by land and sea across the Straits of Gibraltar (Spain).

It is also done by land and sea across the Mediterranean to Lampedusa (Italy) or Malta, and also by land and sea across the Mediterranean to Greece.

The prominence of these routes has, however, shifted quite a bit over the past decade as in 2000, the chief points of entry were the Spanish enclaves (Ceuta and Melilla), small bits of Spanish soil along the coast of Morocco.

The Journey

For the Mediterranean embarkation points, West African youth need to cross the Sahara and along the way, they generally rally at several key hubs, including Gao (Mali) and Agadez (Niger), which have been gateways to the Sahara for centuries. To get to the Strait of Gibraltar, they usually proceed via Tamanrasset, Algeria.

To get to the Libyan coast, they have historically transited Sebha (Libya) and Dirkou (Niger). Even before the recent violence in the Sahel, the road from Agadez to Dirkou had become hazardous, and smugglers were compelled to follow the monthly military convoy between the two cities.

To reach Greece, migrants have moved through north-eastern Nigeria through Chad to Egypt, proceeding to Turkey by land or directly to Greece by sea.

These routes can be clustered into two distinct groups direct departure from West Africa (Senegal and Mauritania) to the Canary Islands, and the various points of departure along the Mediterranean coast in North Africa.


Survivors have told harrowing stories of their ordeals, including deprivation of food and water for days, being crammed into windowless storage spaces, while others die around them and their bodies discarded by the roadside or at sea. There was this story in which a Nigerian man who was migrating with his two children had to throw them out of the boat as they died on the way.

Dead bodies washed ashore the coast of Italy and Spain


No matter how elaborate the preventive measures put in place, those measures alone cannot totally succeed in curbing the phenomena of smuggling of migrants, so countering this crime requires collaboration among all stakeholders, including the local media and our international counterparts, to enable Ghana to meet the international standards in curbing this crime.

Ghana is now recognised as a country of origin, transit, and destination, hence the need to take the issues of human smuggling very seriously.

Thankfully, the Immigration Amendment Act, 2012 [Act 848] has been passed to deal with criminals who engage in the business of smuggling humans across the borders and territorial boundaries of countries.

Source: Mary Mensah/Daily Graphic

25th September 2013, 10:17 AM
intruding other countries without proper visa is the same like invading other homes at night without invitation. Everyone knows. There is no excuse. So you better get a proper visa if you want to stay somewhere else. The problem is heartbreaking but people rapidly loosing emotions.