TAKING THIS RISK TO GET TO EUROPE UNACCEPTABLE

Friday July 29 2022
By The Citizen Reporter

That grinding poverty and institutionalised corruption are widespread in Africa is beyond debate. The continent has over the years also has its fair share of strongmen and political and social upheavals.

It is common knowledge that these factors are largely responsible for the squalour and hopelessness that abound in many parts of Africa, but they cannot in any way be used to justify the suicidal tendencies of Africans wishing to migrate to Europe in search of a better life and opportunities.

Thousands of Africans have died in the last few years as they attempted to cross the unforgiving Mediterranean Sea in rickety boats and flimsy rubber dinghies that were often dangerously overloaded.

Last month alone, at least 200 people died either by drowning when their vessels capsized in rough seas or suffocation in the holds of crowded boats.

The latest tragedy took place earlier this month. Fifty bodies were found in the cargo hold of a boat off the Libyan coast, the victims having been asphyxiated by diesel fumes.

These people did not realise their dream of better opportunities in Western Europe, the supposed land of milk and honey, despite many of them having surrendered their hard-earned life savings to human traffickers in Libya, from where many of the boats set off on their doomed journeys across the Mediterranean.

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But despite migrants dying in large numbers, there is still no shortage of people willing to take the risk. Entire families, some with very young children, are packed in boats like sardines and sent on their way to Europe by traffickers, who operate from the safety of dry land in Libya.

Even after setting foot on Europe, those who survive the perilous journey find themselves living in slum-like conditions that are far worse than what they left behind in Africa.

There is nothing wrong with people craving a better life, but this can be done without necessarily harbouring a death wish and committing what essentially is suicide.


TREAD CAUTIOUSLY ON BIOFUELS

Biofuels are gaining popularity in many countries, including Tanzania. This explains the robust growth of the biofuel sub-sector. Petroleum remains the major source of energy worldwide, but concerns about the possibility of exhausting the reserves and the fact that it is sourced mainly in conflict zones have fuelled the need to seek alternatives.

Biofuels are steadily growing in importance, but the inherent conflict over the use of crops for food or fuel calls for serious discourse. Clarity on the policy and legal framework will be key to meeting the challenges. The rapid growth of the sector could compromise food crop production as land initially meant for food crops is taken up by biofuel crops.

The expansion of crop production for fuel could also upset the social order by fuelling the displacement of rural populations from ancestral land, stoking social tensions.

With the coming of large-scale foreign investors, communities living in agricultural areas face eviction to create room for biofuel farming. To mitigate these negative consequences, the government should come up with laws that regulate investment and resolve conflicts arising in the sector.