Thursday, December 06, 2007

Immigration Reform Means Rethinking Africa
By Bashir Goth
Earlier this week, news reports carried the tragic story of 64 Somali-Ethiopian would-be immigrants who drowned off the coast of Yemen. A UAE paper also reported the story of two teenage Ethiopian boys who were found near starvation in a shipping container in Dubai. The 14- and 15-year-old boys had each paid US$1000, which they saved over five years, to make the trip to Germany; some of their friends had made the journey earlier in a similar condition and are now making a good living there. The boys ran out of food and water in the first day of the trip and had to resort to drinking each other’s urine to survive.

Under normal circumstances, this could be seen as a human tragedy of immense proportions. But since such stories and other even gloomier ones have become daily occurrences, they fail to make headlines – let alone invoke shock and invite empathy.

As one report put it, the seas separating Europe from Africa are being turned into a mass grave of the “unidentified immigrant”: hundreds and thousands of men, women and children perish in an attempt to find a better life abroad.

But instead of looking into the roots of the problem and forging out a common strategy to find a solution, European leaders are panicking and inclining more and more to turning Europe into a fortress. One might remind the Europeans of their scramble for Africa and their 1884 Berlin Conference, during which they divided Africa among various European powers. When Europe today complains about illegal African immigration, they should remember that they robbed a whole continent of everything of value for more than eighty years before they handed over the empty bowl to Africa’s native citizens.

READ MORE In Washington Post/Newsweek

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