Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Over 6,000 'Back Way' Gambians arrive in Italy

According to the Italian Interior Ministry's figures supplied to the International Organization on Migration, young Gambians continue to venture the Back Way to Europe despite the horribly grave events that have occured involving Gambians.

In the first nine months of this year, 6,179 Gambians, almost all young, have survived the back way journey that typically starts from Banjul through Dakar to Bamako and Niamey across the Sahara Desert to various points in Libya.   Needless to say that the trek is treacherous and thus dangerous.

According to various accounts of the journey, many of these young men, and a few women, do not survive it, and those who do survive, many end up perishing during the Mediterranean voyage to either Malta or Sicily.

Of the 6,179 Gambian emigrants who arrived in Italy from January - September 2014, 5,196 are men and 17 women.  Of these 966 are minors under the age of 18 and only 52 of these minors are accompanied by parents or relatives.  An unimaginable figure of 914 Gambian minors venture the trip alone without the benefit of being accompanied.

The global figures provided by the Italian Interior Ministry indicate that a total of 138,796 migrants arrived in Italy during the same period from seven of the biggest contributors to the figure in descending order : Syria (32,681), Eritrea (32,537), Mali (8,532), Nigeria (6,951), Gambia (6,179), Palestine (4,223) and Somalia (4,113).

Migrants from the non-African countries of Syria and Palestine of course follow different route from their African counterparts, but they all end up in the same holding facilities in different parts of Italy.

Proportionally, Gambia is by far the biggest contributor to the migration problem of all the non-African countries on the list, except Eritrea that has a population of 5 million with 32,537 arrivals in Italy in the past nine months.  Mail's population is estimated to be 16 million while Nigeria's is 177 million, yet their arrival figures for the same period are 8,532 and 6,951 respectively.

These are the known arrivals in Italy covering the period of 1st January - 30th September 2014.  How many Gambians succeeded in making it to Italy and beyond in the past decade is unknown.  To think of the number of Gambians who perished at sea in the same period is beyond imagination.

As we have suggested in our Facebook page, the Gambian economy being drained of  its youthful population must be a cause for concern of the economic planning authorities, a recent phenomenon following the tightening up on civil liberties and increase in human rights abuses of the dictatorship.