Erik Moberg ©:
9. THE ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM AFRICA
As seen in the repeated diagram 3 below the African asylum seekers dealt with here come from four countries, that is Nigeria, Somalia, Eritrea and Guinea. The reasons for people wishing to leave their original homes do however vary somewhat for these countries and I will therefore start by looking at them one after the other in general terms. Then, after this, I will make an important comment about the possibility for emigrants from these countries to reach Europe in particular.
Diagram 3 (repeated): Asylum seekers in the EU/EFTA from Africa
Nigeria has, as shown in the earlier table 2, a population of 193.4 millions, which makes it the most populous country in Africa. Furthermore the differences between the northern and the southern parts of the country are considerable. The northern part is mainly Muslim–the Muslims constitute about 50% of Nigeria’s total population–whereas the southern is mainly Christian. And the south is also oil rich. It should also be mentioned that administration and oil business are severely plagued by large scale corruption of various kinds.
Now a main course of migration is the activities of the Islamist terror group Boko Haram (which means “Western education is forbidden”) which was founded in 2002. In the northern part of the country it has since then ravaged atrociously, killing masses of people, kidnapped schools, attacked market places and other soft targets, and so forth. And because of this, even if there are other less important reasons as well, large amounts of people have been forced away from their homes.
Going then to Somalia it is Africa’s most failed state. It has a population of 15.2 millions of which almost all–98.5%–are Muslims. Since it got its independence in 1960 it has been chaotic most of the time. It is plagued by an arid climate and also by a division into an almost countless number of clans fighting each other. In addition to that, since about 2006, the Islamist organization al-Shabab (meaning “youth”) has been active in the country. A purpose, when the al-Qaida affiliated organization was created, was to fight Ethiopian and international troops who had intervened in the country in order to stabilize it. But even so the organization is often also classified as terroristic. As a result of all of this an enormous amount of people have been forced out of their homes to various other places, many of them outside Somalia.
Our next African country, Eritrea, is of a very different character. The country is not a fragmented failed stated, nor a country plagued by Islamists. Rather it is something very close to a harsh and brutal dictatorship, or perhaps even a real such dictatorship. There are no freedoms; there is no rule of law; in the prisons there are a lot of political detainees. And so it has been since Eritrea separated from Ethiopia in 1993 and thereby became an independent state of its own. The head of it all, the president Isaias Afwerki, has also been the same during all this time. But even if Eritrea thus differs fundamentally from Nigeria and Somalia in important respects, the effects, from our point of view, have been the same, namely a huge emigration.
The next and last African country in this line of reasoning is Guinea. It has a population of 15.2 millions of which 84.4% are Muslims. It is also ethnically fragmented. After the independence from France in 1958 Guinea was run by the dictator Sékou Touré until his death in 1984. After that a military junta took over and steps towards democratization have been taken, although only partially effective. Even if some elections have been held, they have also several times been postponed, they have by many been considered as rigged, they have been accompanied by severe violence, and so forth. The military’s role in politics is still important and freedoms of various kinds are restricted. It should also be mentioned that although Guinea is the world’s largest exporter of bauxite–an aluminum ore–the majority of the population lives in poverty. Corruption is rampant.
And so I have come to the important comment about the possibility for the emigrants from the four countries to reach Europe in particular. Here the Arab Spring, which started in late 2010, is of fundamental importance. The reason is that this led to the fall and death of the Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi, to the consequential collapse of the Libyan state, and thereby also to the opening of a window to Europe from Africa. Before that Gadaffi had effectively hindered all kinds of migration through Libya.
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