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Editorial

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The death of yet another group of 26 young Nigerian women trying to get to Europe dramatizes the desperate state of the Nigerian economy, especially, its failure to provide jobs for youths. It also demonstrates that the message has not got through to Nigeria's young 'adventurers' that the Sahara Desert can turn to a sandy graveyard while the Mediterranean Sea has been the watery grave of thousands.

The death of yet another group of 26 young Nigerian women trying to get to Europe dramatizes the desperate state of the Nigerian economy, especially, its failure to provide jobs for youths. It also demonstrates that the message has not got through to Nigeria's young 'adventurers' that the Sahara Desert can turn to a sandy graveyard while the Mediterranean Sea has been the watery grave of thousands.

Only an exceptionally lucky few go through these arduous journeys and live to tell the tale. Even when they do, 95% of them, if not more, end up being deported.
The precise circumstances surrounding the death of the 26th women are still murky but their corpses were recovered by a Spanish naval ship from two separate shipwrecks: 23 from one, three from the other, while 53 other persons are said to be missing. The captains of the wrecked ships, a Libyan and an Egyptian, are said to have been arrested. The dead women are suspected to have been sexually abused before they died, while one woman was said by an eyewitness to have lost all her three children.
This incident is truly heart-wrenching. Although the death of Nigerians during attempts to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe is not new, its tide was believed to be ebbing, considering the stringent conditions that were imposed by the European Union and its multilateral and bilateral agreements with transit countries such as Libya, which is often the take-off point for the journey by sea to Europe.
The quest to explore other countries for fame and fortune is natural and human. Thousands of Nigerians have gone abroad, prospered and achieved their ambitions in various fields of human endeavour. We know that many more will continue to try to do so, especially considering the economic situation of the country, with unemployment among youths put at nearly 26 per cent. What has changed, however, is the new attitude of the destination countries of Europe and the United States, and the reduced international toleration of illegal immigration. For example, the Nigerians who migrated to Italy from the 1980s to the early 2000s had the advantage of a more liberal Italian immigration policy and a buoyant economy.
Some of them did well, and a number even became rich. But, the Nigerians migrating today contend with a totally different environment in which they are looked upon almost contemptuously as economic refugees who deserve no consular protection, while their repatriation is considered automatic and final. This is the new reality of Europe which we urge all state governments to disseminate among their citizens, apart from communicating to would-be migrants that in reality, the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.
Our immigration and border patrol officials must spare Nigerians the nightmare of travelling through the Sahara Desert.  Our borders may be porous but the route to Libya is well known. The dehumanization of Nigerians in Libya and surrounding countries is a national embarrassment which ought to be prevented. Many of these would-be migrants are ignorant of the anarchic situation in Libya, a country which has virtually been without a recognized government since 2011 following the overthrow and assassination of Col. Muammar Gadaffi. Thus, even if proof of mistreatment of Nigerians in Libyan can be found, there is no authority to hold responsible.
We appeal to Nigerian parents, guardians and mentors to educate their wards about the prevailing situation. Europe is resolved not to grant Nigerians asylum status because, in its view, most Nigerians are just trying to escape poverty, not persecution. Given the enormous immigration crisis arising from the Syrian War, there is no sympathy for the tales of woe which Nigerians often invent. We ask the relatives of the 26 deceased women to take heart and know that the best they can do is to persuade other Nigerians not to embark on the perilous journey through the desert and the sea into Europe. At the same time, we urge the federal and state governments to realize that the desperate rush of our citizens to Europe and America is a damning evidence of their inability to meet their needs.

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