Young Ghanaians risk all for "better" life
Some migrate within Africa while others take the risky route to Europe
By Efam Awo Dovi
一些移民到其它非洲国家；还有一些走险路去往欧洲。——Efam Awo Dovi
Every week, in the Brong Ahafo Region— one of Ghana’s major food baskets— vehicles load up with men between 18 and 40 years old. Many, mostly the younger men, hope to reach Europe, while others head for more prosperous countries in Africa. Irrespective of their final destination, they have common aspirations: hopes of good jobs and better lives for themselves and the families they leave behind.
food baskets 查的是菜篮子的意思，此处不知作何处理。
Kofi Twum made that trip years ago. He was only 18 and had lost his father at an early age. His mother, a subsistence farmer, became the sole bread winner of the family. When Twum completed junior secondary school, hehawked yams（山药） to helphis mother. But their living conditions worsened and Twum, fifth among six children, felt the need to work elsewhere.
“I wanted to go to Italy to be able to support my mother,” Twum told Africa Renewal from his home in the town of Nkoranzain northern Ghana.
In 2014, with financial support from his brother, Twum joined a group of 35 young men on a journey through the Sahara Desert to Libya, where they were to take a boat to Europe.
However, hopping a crowded boat out of Libya on his third attempt to cross the Mediterranean, he was arrested and deported to Ghana. He arrived empty-handed. Twum, now a street preacher in his 30s, tells Africa Renewal that he still hopes to make it to Europe one day, this time by some other route.
A hazardous journey
Most Ghanaian migrants trying to reach Europe via Libya go through Burkina Faso（布基纳法索）to Agadez（阿加德兹市）, Niger. From there they join others from West Africa and other areas who are fleeing conflict and persecution.
With the services of middlemen, they travel on overloaded trucks in convoys and part of the way on foot through the Sahara Desert to the Borkou region near the Libyan border. It’s a death-defying experience. Many die from exhaustion and dehydration.
Twum recalls thehuman traffickers and their extortionate demands for money. Also unforgettable was the sight of many lifeless bodies abandoned in the hot Saharan Desert. “Some were leaning on the rocks, they looked like they were sleeping, others were buried in the dust,” he recalled.
Three of his fellow travellers died. “They couldn’t continue the walk. When that happens, we try to encourage them, but after a while you have to leave them, because if you’re left behind you’ll lose your way, and you’ll soon die,” he said. “These were people I knew, we travelled together from Nkoronza. I called their families later from Tripolito inform them.”
Twum’s story is all too common in the Brong Ahafo Region,with echoes acrossGhana and other sub-Saharan African countries.
During the 2011 Libyan crisis and theoverthrowofMuammar Gaddafi, more than 18,000 Ghanaian migrants in Libya wereevacuated, according to theInternational Organization for Migration (IOM)office in Ghana. The actual number of returnees, however, could be higher as some migrants managed to get out of Libya on their own before the crisis worsened.
The majority of the returnees were sent back to the Brong Ahafo Region, from which they came, according to the IOM, which supported the Ghanaian government in evacuating its stranded nationals.
For many families in Brong Ahafo, having a relative in Europeconfersprestige and the prospect ofremittances. “Every household hopes to have someone in Europe,” says Walter Kwao-Anati, the director of migration at Ghana’sMinistry of the Interior.
In some cases, he adds, “There iscommunity supportfor relatives to leave, because your family will be looked down upon if no one has left for Europe.”
And there is also the expectation of financial support to the family back home, which helps to improve the family’s living conditions. According to the African Development Bank’s African Economic Outlook 2015 report, remittances, at $64 billion in 2015, remain the most stable and important single source of external finance to Africa.
But beneath the veil of perceived prestige arebigger national development issues. Kwao-Anati admits that in the case of Ghana, “Poverty is one of the major reasons why people migrate in search of economic opportunities.”