One in every ten households in Benin has a family member who has undertaken the extremely risky journey by road in search of greener pasture.
This led Nigeria’s leading news app, Bounce News to publish an exclusive report exposing details of how young people in the country are illegally trafficked across the deadly Sahara and Mediterranean in the quest for a better life in Europe.
The 11-minute investigative report, which is available on the Bounce News app, uncovers the key actors who facilitate the illegal migration, as well as the challenges involved in undertaking such a deadly journey. It also highlights the socio-economic and political factors that make it imperative for young people in Nigeria to insist on embarking on the fatal voyage despite knowing the risks involved.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), more than 153,000 people arrived by sea to Italy in 2015 alone. Of that figure, over 96 5000 were Africans from Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, The Gambia, Mali and Nigeria, while Nigeria alone accounted for over 22,000.
Two intending migrants who were interviewed by the Bounce News crew on the condition of anonymity made staggering revelations about why young people would dare to risk their lives for a future that was uncertain.
James; not his real name, disclosed that he was motivated to travel to Europe by road because of economic hardship.
“This life good or bad is 50-50. Despite the risk, I still prefer living abroad than Nigeria where nobody cares, nobody knows how you live. I am an orphan, no dad, only mom,” he shared.
Another interviewee who’s also an orphan said his reason for leaving was to lift the status of his family. “They said it’s risky, but I have that belief that with God all things are possible. I don’t have a father and my mother does little business. She is suffering so I just want to help my family.”
Asked by the Bounce News crew if a one million naira gift would convince them to change their plans, both interviewee’s response was a resolute no. “I don’t even need one million naira from you. Just give me the money that will take me from here to Libya and to cross the sea to Italy. That will be okay for me not the one million naira,” said James.
Both James and Ose are on the books of a human smuggling kingpin known in the interview as Pa Benson, and has been in the business for over 20 years. Pa Benson, who refuses to see the wrong in his illegal trade, insists his profession has helped to subdue the rate of crime in Benin, and also help young people fulfill their dreams.
One thing shone through in the course of the documentary shot on location in Benin, the hub for trafficking in Nigerian – for many young people in the region, going to Europe was the only shot at having a good life.