Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 November 2022:
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), last week airlifted 149 Sierra Leoneans that were stranded in Niger, back to Sierra Leone, after failing to cross over to Europe in search of a better life.
According to the IOM, the chartered flight was made possible – thanks to the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for migrants’ protection and reintegration, “allowing for a safe and dignified return” of the migrants back to Sierra Leone, where they face an uncertain future and early mortality – with youth unemployment topping eighty-five percent and the economy in serious decline.
Over sixty percent of the population of Sierra Leone are at serious risk of dying before their fiftieth birthday, due to poverty and poor healthcare.
Thousands of unemployed young Sierra Leoneans, have made the perilous crossing to Europe, either through the sweltering heat of the Sahara desert, or the rough Atlantic Ocean, where many lives are being lost every day.
Those that survived the journey say that its a risk worth taking, as the alternative is a painful economic existence back home in Sierra Leone – of unemployment, criminality and drug addiction.
The International Organization for Migration is a United Nations agency that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers.
“The Mediterranean is the world’s deadliest migration route .The International organization for migration estimate that 22,400 migrants and asylum seekers have died since 2000 in attempts to reach the European union .Many of them at sea .Over 3500 died at sea in 2014 , making it the deadliest year in record .” There is no place like home. This repatriation of young Sierra Leoneans from Niger is welcome .At the same time is a damming indictment of the Bio government for his failures to invest in our youths through education and training and creating a business environment where anyone with an idea can start a business ,or pursue their education, to enhanced their employment flexibility in the modern technological business environment. Apart from education , investing in primary infrastructure projects like electricity , good roads , health , human capital development , agriculture and housing should be the main vechicles used to drive economic activity and creating the necessary conditions that will allow our people to be more creative and economically active in the country . How many Rwandans , or people from Bostwana died in the Meditereneans .? Very few or none at all .Because they have a political leadership that have the interest of their country and people at heart .What we have at the moment is a government that have shown little or no regards for it’s youths or it’s general population. We can all walk to Lumley beach on towards the Atlantic ocean our politicans will not bait an eye lid . Maybe they will even act as our cheer leaders .Our government have washed their hands of all responsibility for the future of our youths and subcontracted that responsibility to foreign countries where they think they stand a better chance of making something out of themselves than their country of birth. This reverse migration from South to North is an other indication of how our fortunes have interchange with our European partners over the last centuries .In the earlier centuries we had European migrants that came to our shores for nefarious activities in our continent . They exploited and took all our natural resources away to build Europe to make it what it looks like today .They were welcomed with open hands to the extent we even sold our own people in the form of the barbaric slave trade .Today the shoe is on the other foot .Africans wanting to come to Europe, are being prevented to make that journey because fortress Europe, have put up barriers and stopping them by whatever means to land on Europen soil. In vast majority of cases these would be migrantd are exploited by people’s smugglers .Surely ,Europe that have benefited so much from Africa both in economic , cultural and historical ties , should create a pathway that makes it easier for people to travel to Europe and beyond with out risking life or limb .
I suggest a wider comprehensive education campaign to raise awareness of the viable alternatives to living abroad.