Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed that worsening level of unemployment, poverty and unresolved conflict across the African continent are major threats responsible for increasing illegal migration from Africa, through Mediterranean, to Europe by Africans, saying the African leaders must act now to end illegal migration on the continent.
The former president, in a press statement tagged, “Calling for International Collaborative Efforts to Stem the Tide of Illegal Immigration from Africa into Europe” and made available to journalists in Abeokuta on Monday, asked leaders in the African Union (AU) to rise up and remove obstacles causing myriad of socio-economic factors that stare Africans on the face.
He said, “It is time for the international community and particularly African leaders to take a good look at the factors responsible for the death and destruction with the Mediterranean by illegal migration of youths from Africa and address the causes in an honest, responsible, humane and holistic manner rather than the current futile attempt to half-heartedly deal with the symptoms rather than the cause.
“The sure way of prevention is the elimination of conflict and abject poverty and creation of employment in the countries where migrants originate. In the meantime, let AU form a bulwark to stem the spate of migrants from Africa across the Mediterranean to Europe. It can be done.”
He recalled that the collaborative efforts of some countries, inlcuding Nigeria and Ghana with Libya under the government of Muammar Ghaddafi in 2000 against illegal migration prompted the evacuation of over 17,000 Nigerians, 5,000 Ghanaians and 3,000 Sudaneses back to Nigeria, Ghana and Sudan respectively, through combined African leaders efforts against illegal migration.
Obasanjo, who lauded Ghaddafi and some African leaders’ efforts in curbing illegal migrants that usually involved in crimes and anti-social activities such as credit card fraud, burglary, drug trafficking and even violent crimes such as armed robbery, berrated Western powers for conspiracy that precipitated ouster of Ghaddafi and subsequent anarchy in Libya which fuelled illegal migration.
“With the cooperation of the Nigerien and Libyan authorities, our security agencies acquired the necessary intelligence on which action was taken to dismantle several human trafficking rings operating in Lagos, Benin City, Sokoto, and Kano in Nigeria, Agadez, Maradi, Dogondoutchie and Niamey in the Republic of Niger and Gatroun and Sabha in Libya.
“It is thus a matter of considerable sadness for me when I witness the current wave of desperate youths risking their lives to travel to Europe and the futile efforts of European countries to deal with those who have already set sail or have even reached shores of the European continent.
“Although there are strenuous efforts to deny it, it is undeniable that the vacuum created by the lack of effective governance in Libya precipitated by the direct action of Western powers is responsible for the current anarchy in that country. The current inflow of African refugees into Europe from Libya is a direct consequence.
“The government in Libya which in 2000 acted humanely and responsibly to stem the outflow of illegal migrants to Europe has been replaced by unconscionable bandits and terrorists who have forcibly seized the instruments of state to facilitate human trafficking and illegal migration for their own material benefit”, he added.