African migrants to Europe: The perils and realities


The journey of African migrants to Europe is a long and arduous one, filled with danger, uncertainty and often, disappointment. With instability and conflict in many African countries and limited economic opportunities, growing numbers of individuals, largely from sub-Saharan Africa, are enticed to take the perilous journey in the hope of a better life. The reality, however, is that even when they arrive in Europe, life is far from easy and far from secure. This article will explore the dangers and realities of African migrants to Europe in more detail.

Before a potential migrant can even consider the journey to Europe, he or she must first overcome poverty, persecution, or some other form of deprivation at home. Leaving family, friends and everything one knows behind, the migrant is faced with a myriad of dangers in undertaking their journey. These dangers come in the form of human traffickers, who charge extortionate fees for their services and often use techniques of coercion and violence to maintain control.

Once a migrant has mustered the courage to take the journey, there is still a long road ahead, with a complex network of land and sea-based routes leading to Europe. These routes are extremely dangerous with migrants exposed to physical threats, exploitation, extortion and even death. Despite the perils of the journey, the numbers of African migrants attempting to reach Europe by sea has continued to rise, with figures from 2018 indicating a 29% increase compared to 2017. Much of the narrative around African migration focuses on the risks posed to the migrants, yet there are less discussed risks posed by the migrants to their host countries.

Once migrants arrive in Europe, they often face a hostile environment, with anti-immigrant sentiment fuelled by nationalistic politics and in some extreme cases, leading to violence. The media portrayal of arriving African migrants further contributes to this negative stigma with much of the content biassed and focused on the risks posed by ‘foreign’ migration. However, this ignores the significant economic and social benefits which African migrants bring to their host countries. The influx of new talent, ideas and innovation often leads to positive economic growth, as well as a valuable cultural enrichment.

The Perils of African Migration to Europe

Africa has long been a major source of migration with many leaving their homes in search of a better life in Europe. However, the perilous journey of African migrants to Europe is one fraught with danger – including exploitation, inequality, human rights abuses, and racism.

Despite the hope of a better life, the dangers of migration from Africa to Europe are numerous. Among the greatest of these is exploitation. African migrants are often treated like commodities and exploited for cheap labour or forced into harmful and exploitative situations for money. African migrants also face unequal access to health and social services, education and employment opportunities as well as unequal rights and protection from discrimination and prejudice.

African migrants can also be subject to pervasive racism. Reports of racially-based violence, hate speech and xenophobic attacks – and the lack of action by law enforcement agencies to adequately address these offences – demonstrate how migrants are disrespected and their rights are usually not upheld. Police violence, racial profiling and harassment are often used to deter migrants and outbreaks of violence targeted at migrants have been reported.

In addition, human rights violations and abuses are common. Governments regularly fail to meet their obligations to ensure humane conditions in detainment centres, where African migrants are often arbitrarily held unexpectedly for long periods in overcrowded and unsanitary detention facilities, without the means to challenge their situation.

It is clear that African migrants in Europe are facing an increasingly precarious state of inefficiency and inequality. Thousands of people travel in search of a better life, only to face extreme hardship and danger. It is essential that stronger measures are taken to protect the rights of all migrants and refugees, including offering new and effective tools to hold those responsible for exploitation, unfair labour practices and violence accountable, in all contexts. Without greater effort and commitment to the protection of African migrants in Europe, the situation will likely only worsen, with devastating consequences for all those affected.

The realities of African Migration to Europe

European nations have long been the favoured destination of migrants from Africa on account of their proximity, economic development and historical, political, and economic ties to the continent. This has been especially true since the 1980s and has since rapidly increased. There are many factors that drive African migration to Europe including poverty, instability, and conflict, famine, and climate change. The extent to which these factors vary by country, region and socio-economic context makes it difficult to paint a generic picture of African migration to Europe.

Over the past two decades African migration to Europe has snowballed and diversified in character. Interspersed between those in search of better economic prospects, refugees and asylum-seekers, skilled labour, and other forms of regular migrants, find themselves a part of a larger phenomenon. Those seeking to make the journey are often willing to undertake extremely dangerous routes, such as crossing the Mediterranean, as the promise of a better life in Europe is a risk worth taking.

It is estimated that there are over 10 million Africans living in Europe, with the majority residing in countries such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain. Despite a large influx of migrants, European nations have yet to come to terms with the realities of this phenomenon. This is a point of great contention as countries struggle to integrate migrants and grapple with the challenges they pose on the social, economic and political framework of European societies.

In the face of unequal economic power, African migrants must confront challenges of discrimination, social exclusion and racism that contribute to feelings of displacement and marginalisation in European cities. These migrants are determined to build a better future for themselves and their families, taking on jobs and contributing to economies in their new countries with significant wealth gaps.

African migrants in Europe also contribute to the challenges faced by their home countries of origin in terms of losing valuable labour, tax and remittance income. At the same time, countries of origin continue to struggle with a deep-rooted institutional deficit handicapping development efforts which drive migration.

Migration is not a simple phenomenon, but a combination of multiple factors which can never be fully predicted or understood. European nations must accept the realities of this phenomenon and work to ensure that migrants are treated with dignity and respect. Additionally, European nations must work to improve the conditions in countries of origin, so that people are not forced to migrate in search of a better life.

Do African migrants be successful?

Every day, thousands of people around the world make the risky decision to leave their homes, families, and lives and migrate to other countries. In particular, Africa is a major source of migrants, with more and more of the continent’s population heading abroad, often in pursuit of greater economic opportunities and better quality of life. However, is it possible for African migrants to be successful in their new countries?

The answer, of course, is a resounding yes. African migrants are some of the most successful immigrants, making up a huge proportion of the most “successful” countries in the world. For example, in the United States, African born immigrants make up a disproportionate amount of the top earners and are highly active in the entrepreneurial sector. Another example is Australia where African migrants have achieved success in both the academic and business sectors, with many African born individuals in the top percentiles of achievement and success. African immigrants are also highly represented in the professional and managerial sectors in the UK, with higher than average educational levels and higher job placement categories.

It has also been found that, on average, African migrants come with higher levels of educational qualifications than other ethnic groups. This fact is largely due to the fact that education is a high priority in many African countries, so immigration can be seen as a way to gain higher levels of education and be able to access better employment opportunities. This, coupled with the language, culture, and family networks often found in migrant communities, make African migrants more attractive to employers.

However, this does not mean that it is always easy for African migrants to become successful. There are still many challenges that African migrants face, such as racial and cultural discrimination, language barriers, and low wages. Migrants from African countries also often find it difficult to access welfare and health systems, leading to a lack of access to essential services. Additionally, African migrants may be subject to restrictive immigration laws, which can make it hard for them to move to countries with greater employment opportunities.

Despite these challenges, African migrants have proved to be a successful demographic in many countries. With determination, hard work, and the right networks, African migrants can often find success in the countries they move to.

African Migrants: Failing to Make it Europe

Every year, millions of African migrants attempt the perilous journey in search of a better life in Europe. But with the route becoming increasingly dangerous, many face dire outcomes resulting in the loss of life or severe physical and psychological trauma. Those that survive face immense difficulties, as numerous tightening of immigration laws, rising costs, tighter border controls, and a eurocentric bias, combine to make the European dream increasingly difficult to realise.

The journey starts in often-impoverished parts of Africa; including parts of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan. Young men, women, and children alike, often leaving family behind, make a long and arduous journey eastward across the perilous Sahara Desert. This route is known for its extreme temperatures, scarce water sources, crocodiles, and deep sand. It makes for one of the world’s most dangerous overland routes, claiming hundreds of lives every year.

Once past the desert dangers, illegality remains a risk. Most African migrants have no legal documentation, so to make the trip they must use smugglers who often result in exploitation and impossible fees. Additionally, many migrants turn to human traffickers to get them to the promised land. The traffickers, while they may reduce the danger, often create even worse conditions in the long run. Migrants can find themselves in limbo, stuck in countries ill-equipped to provide them with assistance, support or proper legal counsel.

The situation becomes further dire once they reach Europe. Despite their hazardous journey, many of the African migrants are turned away at the borders due to restrictive migration policies making it difficult even for asylum seekers and economic refugees to obtain legal status. Those that do make it across the border, often face a barrage of biassed laws and policies. Language barriers, hostile reception from local populations, and negative stereotyping of African migrants also contribute to their very real struggles finding employment and a place to live.

The situation seems dire, but with strategic changes to migration laws and commitments to migrant assistance funds, the reality for African migrants can improve. African migrants have to take responsibility in knowing the risks of the journey.

Ericson Mangoli
Ericson Mangoli is the founder and Managing Editor of Who Owns Africa, a platform for African journalism that focuses on politics, governance, and business. With a passion for truth and a dedication to highlighting pressing issues in Africa, Mangoli has become a significant voice in the field. He embarked on this journey after graduating with a degree in communications and realizing his true calling was in investigative reporting and shedding light on untold stories.  Who Owns Africa provides thought-provoking articles, in-depth analyses, and incisive commentary to help people understand the complexities of the region. Mangoli is committed to impartiality and ethical reporting, setting high standards for his team. His vision for the platform is to foster critical thinking and promote informed discussions that have a positive impact on African society. Mangoli is known for his eloquent and insightful writing which tackles pressing issues in Africa. His articles cover a range of topics including political corruption, economic development, fostering international partnerships, and African governance. He sheds light on the complexities of these subjects and empowers readers to engage in conversations for positive change. Mangoli's coverage of African politics analyzes the factors that drive change and hinder progress, while his reporting on governance advocates for stronger institutions and policies. Additionally, he explores the challenges and opportunities facing African businesses and inspires readers to contribute to Africa's economic growth.


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