African Migration to Europe

Africans seek a better life. They see Europe's streets paved with gold and stream endlessly risking their lives only to be caught in a net and returned.

The endless traffic is all consuming, hundreds of thousands make the journey and tens of thousands die.

The only solution is to change their minds with an alternative proposition, a dream within. Build Africa, give them a reason to stay, give them choice.

EU backs migrant crisis naval force

EU ministers have approved plans to establish a naval force to combat people-smugglers operating from Libya.

The EU is struggling to cope with a surge in illegal migrants from Africa and the Middle East crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.

The UK is playing the lead role at the UN Security Council in drafting a resolution that would give the EU a legal basis for using military force against people traffickers.

The EU is struggling to cope with a surge in illegal migrants from Africa and the Middle East crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.

Ms Mogherini was speaking after talks with EU foreign and defence ministers.

There would be three phases in the naval operation, the EU foreign policy chief explained:

  • Intelligence gathering on smugglers
  • Inspection and detection of smugglers' boats
  • Destruction of those boats

"It is not so much the destruction of the boats but the destruction of the business models of the (smugglers') networks themselves," she explained.

Migrant crisis: Who are Africa's people smugglers?

European countries are scrambling to stop record numbers of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, but who are the men sending them on perilous journeys?

Human traffickers are the key link that European officials wish to target. But they are taking on complex criminal networks that do not recognise borders and which experts liken to "multinational corporations".

"What we have seen over the last two years is a growing degree of professionalisation," said Tuesday Reitano - the head of the Global Initiative Secretariat - who has researched the traffickers.

Abdul Basit Haroun said smugglers were hiding IS militants on boats filled with migrants.

Business is clearly booming. A record 35,000 migrants have already travelled to Europe this year. Mr Muscemi estimates that Mediterranean trafficking is worth between €300-600m ($644m; £430m) a year, and this is encouraging amateurs to take over.

"What were once very informal ad-hoc networks, moving people from place to place, are now offering a higher range of services including document fraud."

Once in the country, migrants are often forced to hand over their money and passports, leaving them at the mercy of the traffickers. Ali from The Gambia was forced to board an unsafe boat.

"The Libyan man lied to us," he told the BBC. "He said it was a big boat. We all paid 1,000 dinar (£488, $728). When we got to the boat, he forced us to enter with a gun, if you don't enter he will shoot you."

"The Syrian migration flow changed the game as far as human smuggling was concerned in Sub-Saharan Africa, because the Syrians had more money to pay.

"They were ready to put down several thousand dollars at a time, whereas the African migrants could never pay more than $200 or $300. Those groups that could respond to that need began to profit very quickly and they were making millions of dollars."

Islamic State militants 'smuggled to Europe' - 2015

Islamic State (IS) fighters are being smuggled into Europe by gangs in the Mediterranean, an adviser to the Libyan government has told the BBC.

Officials in Italy and Egypt have previously warned that IS militants could reach Europe by migrant boat.

He alleged that IS was allowing the boat owners to continue their operations in exchange for half of their income.

Abdul Basit Haroun said smugglers were hiding IS militants on boats filled with migrants.

About 60,000 people are estimated to have tried to cross the Mediterranean this year, fleeing conflict and poverty. Since the 2011 uprising, Libya has been without a stable government, and the chaos has allowed trafficking networks there to thrive.

Migrants in numbers

  • More than 1,800 people are feared to have died crossing the Mediterranean in 2015 so far - a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014
  • At least 218,000 reached Europe by the Mediterranean Sea in 2014, and about 60,000 have this year so far
  • Italy received more than 170,000 of the 2014 arrivals, large numbers of which were from Syria and Eritrea

Source: The UN refugee agency; International Organization for Migration

Key facts: Africa to Europe migration - 2007

Thousands of Africans try to make the journey to Europe each year as illegal migrants - risking people smugglers, deserts, sea crossings and the possibility of being sent home, all for the dream of a better life.

As the closest European country to the African continent, Spain is on the frontline for illegal migration. From there, migrants often make their way to other European countries.

The main aim of migrants is to reach European soil - be it mainland Europe or the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla or islands in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

The latest report on migration by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says African migration to developed countries is marginal in relation to overall flows.

About 22,016 people reached Italy by boat in 2006, down slightly from 2005. But the sea crossings are not without their dangers - it is thought hundreds die attempting to reach Europe. In June this year, 24 Africans drowned after a dinghy capsized south of Malta.

Having migrated, many migrants send money home to family they have left behind. Billions of dollars each year is sent back to Africa from the diaspora around the world - in some cases making up a sizeable chunk of the home country's GDP.

Mother's battle against Senegal migration

Yayi Bayam Diouf says that for the past two months, she has managed to prevent any boats leaving her home area in Senegal, loaded with migrants trying to reach Spain's Canary Islands - making her campaign more effective than all the warships and planes sent to the Atlantic Ocean by the European Union.

"Every morning I go to the seaside, I call many young fishermen and I start speaking to them," she says.

In the past few months, Thiaroye has evolved from dire anonymity to world fame, hitting newspaper headlines around the globe.

She started her campaign after her only son drowned trying to reach the Canary Islands.

"He died in the sea with 81 young people who were all fishermen and all from our village."

She lives in Thiaroye, a poor suburb of 45,000 people on the outskirts of the Senegalese capital, Dakar, which used to be a traditional fishermen's village.

The suburb had become one of the major launch-pads for thousands of young West Africans trying to reach Europe in small fishing boats.