"In the Sahara Desert, I saw skeletons,"

Mrs Ceda Ankra

 For Ibrahim and his family, moving to Niger in June 2019 was supposed to be a way out of extreme poverty. 

The 26-year-old butcher spent nine months in Agadez's ghettos, a hub for migrant smugglers and a crossroads for people on the move.

With assurances from smugglers, he waited for the right time to make the death-defying journey through the Sahara Desert to Libya and then Europe.

I finally got a break in the early part of 2020. To transport thirty of us across the Sahara in a pickup truck, the smugglers demanded $2,000 per person. We paid an additional $1,000 to cross the Atlantic to Europe when we arrived in Libya. The day we left; We only carried a small backpack and wore masks. One jerry can of water covered the entire vehicle, he told The Fourth Estate.

Seven vehicles in a line led them out the door. Ibrahim recalled that the only time he came into contact with the law was at a lone police checkpoint on the immediate outskirts of Agadez. There was not much of a check. The remainder of the journey took place over an interminable stretch of sand that stretched out to the horizon.

The vehicle Ibrahim was traveling in broke down one day into the trip, which was supposed to last three days. He and his coworkers turned into oven dough; One person perished from dehydration as a result of the scorching heat from the sun. A syringe was used to ration their water. Nothing more than a drip on the tongue at a time.

Zenger News: A car stranded in the Libyan desert has been found to contain eight bodies and a heartbreaking note. Vehicles like this one are common in the Sahara Desert. Credit: Zenger News The couple of hours they were told the vehicle would be fixed took two days.

While stranded in sand dunes, they alternated sleeping in a crowded pickup truck for two days. The ladies desired to return to Agadez. The men waited patiently for the subsequent truck. However, the jerrycan's water quickly evaporated.

Out of exhaustion, people were just falling in the sand left and right. With a shrug, Ibrahim recalled the wicked combination of the hot sand and dust.

On the third day, another vehicle eventually showed up. However, the journey to Libya took longer than a day. The smugglers made additional stops where they accepted bribes. He claimed that it was the most terrifying journey of his life.

“On the route, there were skeletons, bags, and shoes, and I saw dead bodies in the sand. He recalled, crying for the first time in years, "Almost everyone in the vehicle was crying by the time we got to Libya."

The Sahara Desert is said to be frequented by the skeletal remains of migrants. The Sahara Desert is said to be frequented by the skeletal remains of migrants. KPBS At this point, he came to a stop and wiped off sweat beads. It was like a fictitious demonstration of his position as a hotel cleaner in Niamey.

Ibrahim claimed that COVID-19 caused him to return to Ghana after spending ten months in Libya.

"I had no money left. I was unable to maintain any employment. There was a clearing of Ghanaians by the Worldwide Relocation Association. I joined, and in November 2020, I went back to Ghana.

Despite his safe return, the feeling of a failed mission continued to sap his sanity. Therefore, he once more boarded a bus. As he prepares for yet another trip through the desert, Niger serves as his temporary residence.

Through a Nigerian friend he made in Libya, he got the cleaning job.

I've saved up enough money to try my luck once more. I long to visit Italy. The former butcher from Banda in the Bono Region stated, "I have friends there."

His companions in Italy offered to him the possibilities of a superior life in Italy once he crossed the twin obstacles of the desert and the Mediterranean.

These friends were brought to Italy by smuggling rings.

But once Ibrahim got to the West African nation deep in the Sahara, he started to realize how big the smugglers' lies were and how much his friends overestimated the dangers he faced.

Additionally, these smuggling networks are connected to Algeria and Morroco in North Africa.

The tale of Ibrahim and other African travelers was the point of convergence for the conversation when in excess of 200 partners accumulated in Niamey for Territorial Gathering on Media and Relocation in West and Focal Africa this year.

Celebrate successful migrants The conference was held as part of the project "Empowering Youth in Africa through Media and Communication," which has been running in eight West and Central African nations since 2019: Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.


Through the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the Government of Italy provides funding for the project. The project's conclusion was marked by the Regional Conference, which prompted participants to consider the most pressing concerns regarding migration coverage in the media.

At the conference, it became clear that a lot of young people are choosing to travel from uninformed positions.

As a result, the media is viewed as an antidote to the lack of information and the spread of false information that encourage young people to take risky journeys to Europe across the Sahara and the Mediterranean.

The high rate of unemployment in West Africa is one factor that annually forces thousands of young people to leave their countries.

According to the European Council on Foreign Relations, extreme poverty, food insecurity, and the predatory behavior of authoritarian regimes also cause people to flee their countries to find alternatives within Africa itself (about 90% of African migrants remain on the continent) and in Europe. This extremely risky journey is made by over 100,000 young people annually.

According to data from the Africa Union (AU), only 20% of migrants actually leave Africa. Migrants migrate more frequently from the Horn of Africa to Southern Africa than from North Africa to Europe via the Sahara.

However, according to IOM data, an average of 25 migrants per day perished on their way to North Africa before they joined the dingy boats for the crucial crossing of the Mediterranean.

making a trip to Europe. On dingy boats, thousands of people risk their lives to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Credit: The Guardian reports that Africa's migration routes were responsible for at least 7,400 deaths between 2014 and 2019.

Despite these numbers, there were signs of discontent at the conference about biased media reporting that portrays migration as irrational, dangerous, and unjustified.

“It is necessary to tell stories about the success stories of migrants. We don't tell these stories enough. On the off chance that we don't make it happen, others will in a way they consider fit," Peter Iorter, the Leader Chief/President at More secure Media Drive, said.

He stated that the success stories of African politicians, academics, entrepreneurs, and others have not been told.

Niamey Declaration on Migration In a declaration read by Ghana's Deputy Minister of Information, Fatimatu Abukakar, participants from eight nations gathered the media and migration-related civil society organizations:

In order to contribute to the provision of comprehensive information on migration, ensure the diversification of narratives, including through the treatment of the subject from a variety of perspectives;

Encourage the creation of diverse migration-related editorial content in local languages;

Increase the inclusion of youth, women, people with disabilities, and stakeholders' perspectives in migration-related editorial content narratives;

Contribute to the elimination of migrants-related stereotypes and prejudices;

Additionally, participants requested that development partners "Support initiatives to enhance the plural and inclusive representation of migrants and the diversity of migration narratives;" improve the region's media and fact-checking organizations' ability to combat migration-related misinformation and disinformation; foster collaborative journalism in media coverage of migration by strengthening national and cross-border collaboration between media from the region and other relevant regions.

Additionally, they suggested the following actions be taken by the governments of the eight nations:

Adopt a law ensuring effective implementation of access to information in accordance with international standards and the African Union model law to protect the right to information;

Enhance security measures for journalists, particularly when it comes to the creation of migration-related content;

bolster media pluralism, diversity, and economic viability through policies and mechanisms;

Invest in media professionals' capacity-building efforts, particularly in the treatment of migration-related information;

Support and encourage initiatives for research into the dynamics, effects, and causes of migration in West and Central Africa;

Facilitate access to information sources by supporting the establishment or expansion of migration information and documentation centers;

Adopt and put into practice strategies to make media and information literacy more popular among young people so that they can learn how to critically research, verify, evaluate, and use information.


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