Friday, May 01, 2015

Looted by the EU, Denied Entry by the EU

When European Union officials gathered in Brussels recently over the immigrants problem, human rights activists and experts heaved a sigh of relief. Believing that time had finally come for the eggheads from Europe to address (once and for all) reasons why millions of Africans prefer to die in the Mediterranean Sea than live through pain and despair in the 'dark' continent.

It came as a blow, however, that rather than find a lasting solution, the officials rose from the 'emergency' summit, succeeding in merely scratching the surface. It is one thing to point an accusing finger at the migrants - frantic men, women and children - devastated by hunger, persecution and poverty in their homelands. Migrants who risk the rough seas that have claimed the lives of nearly 2,000 people this year. It is easy to blame the smugglers desperate to cash in on the 'booming business' brought about by the mayhem and lawlessness in Libya.

But nobody seems to be asking the all-important question: Why would any human being (in some cases an entire family) brave the high seas to take up asylum in a foreign land? Why don't they remain in their countries to enjoy the dividends of a 'freeborn'?

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Sensi has said the main reasons why millions of desperate Africans risk to travel by sea to get better lives must be tackled more forcefully. Sensi wrote: "While Africa is increasingly offering its people more opportunities, it's also posing new challenges. Conflict, failed states and epidemics still represent major threats."

Rather than focus on petty smugglers and organised criminals who make peanuts ferrying asylum seekers across the Mediterranean, beam your searchlight on the African leaders who have diverted trillions of dollars meant for the development and devastated every apparatus that would have made life easy for their citizens.

Deprived of basic education, lack of infrastructure, nonexistent social security services, little or no power supply, contaminated or nonexistent pipe water, poor or no health services, many Africans are time bombs waiting to explode. With assassinations and murder cases barely undetected, and disease and epidemics tearing through the rank and file of their dirty and unkempt environment, millions of Africans prefer death on the high seas than in their communities, where relatives will be subjected to the rigours of high cost of burial and the attendant energy-sapping formalities.

It has got so bad. It has reached an endemic proportion. Are we pretending that that we are not aware of the fact that successive African rulers have carted away resources that would have made the continent 'flowing with milk and honey', the envy of the world? That they are in connivance with the EU and US, whose banks they use to facilitate crime against their kinsmen?

Are the EU authorities pretending that part of their so-called fortress was not built with looted African funds? Examples abound. Self -acclaimed Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa, after embezzling billions of dollars that belonged to the people of Central African Republic, 'retired' to France, where he had a massive estate, to enjoy his loot.

Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko stole more than $5 billion (Sh 472 billion). Apart from plunging his country into uncontrolled inflation and gigantic debts, Zairians have suffered massive hunger and devastation. Yet, during and after his reign of terror, he dined and wined with the presidents of France, Belgium and US, and had choice property and fat bank accounts in those countries as well as Switzerland.

Nigeria's former head of state Gen Sani Abacha's loot was so pronounced that when he gave up the ghost, his son, Mohammed, was willing to give back to the government $1.2 billion (Sh113 billion), after protracted negotiations. It is estimated that more than $2.3 billion (Sh217 billion) of Abacha's loot is still hidden in different banks across Switzerland and Europe.

Several other serving and retired African leaders and their cronies have been indicted for stealing large sums of money meant for the improvement of the fortunes of the continent's citizens. This money finds its way into banks in Europe and the US under the watchful eyes of the EU and US authorities.

Dr Michael Ayi, a Nigerian scholar, posited: "It would not be possible for African leaders to loot their national treasuries if there were no countries willing to receive these funds. If you preach transparency and accountability, you should not have the facility to transfer illicit funds to your own country."

Instead of babbling about destroying smugglers' boats in Libya or guzzling millions of euros on external border controls. Rather that pontificate about having set up a (European) 'fortress', where wretched Africans scamper to for safety and the good things of life, EU leaders should tell themselves the truth. The reason migrants fall prey to smugglers is because of the EU policy of aiding and abetting wanton plundering and devastation of resources by African rulers. As long as unbridled corruption, economic exploitation and kleptomania among African officials are left unchecked, EU authorities should gird themselves for an unprecedented migrants' backlash.

From here by Chris Albert Okechukwu,  a journalist, author and a commentator on African affairs.

1 comment:

J Surman said...

Understanding the causes of global problems is vital - an excellent article. Another to read for those wishing to understand the root causes begins: "When refugees from the Indian subcontinent, sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America and other places risk their lives for a chance at low-wage precarious labor in Europe or the US, it's because of decisions taken at the center of global economic and political power, places like Washington D, London, Brussels and New York." and can be found here: