Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

The promised land?

March 31, 2009

Several hundred Africans have drowned off the coast of Libya in an attempt to escape to a better life in Europe.

The head of the United Nations refugee agency says the tragedy marks a grim start to what he calls the “smuggling season”, when the weather gets better and the perilous sea voyages pick up again after the winter.

But this smuggling season may be less promising than the last for the thousands of poverty-stricken Africans who arrive at their continent’s shores for the last leg of their journey by rickety boat to Europe.

Recession in Europe has brought with it rising unemployment and perhaps increasing resentment of foreigners taking jobs that the locals might now want to do. There are now 2.2 million more unemployed people in the European Union than a year ago, according to the latest EU figures.

It was hard enough for the African vendors of handbags and CDs on the streets of Europe at the best of times. How will it be at the worst of times?

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