Perhaps, never before in history had Europe faced the suffocating number of displaced persons desperately knocking on its doors to be let in. Wars, religious extremism, repressive regimes and battered economies are responsible for the uprooting of over 19 million people worldwide, especially Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The greatest flashpoint of the human displacement is Syria, where over four million people have fled their homes, and Lebanon alone already harbours about 1.2 million, spilling from this war-torn hitherto stable enclave.
The years of steady trickle by migrants to reach Europe through the Mediterranean Sea for a supposed “better life”, especially by African economic refugees, developed into a mob stampede this year when the war in Syria deteriorated, with the Bashir Assad regime losing enormous ground to rebels (seeking to overthrow it), the Islamic State terrorists, Hezbollah and Kurdish fighters.
Daily reports of boats carrying hundreds of migrants capsising in the Mediterranean, with pictures and videos of men, women and children floating or sinking hit the airwaves, with over 1,000 people dead this year alone. Pictures of a dead child washing up off the Turkish beach helped to arouse the pity of European citizens and activists who put pressure on their governments to allow the migrants come in for succour.
With more than 200,000 refugees already in the heart of Europe and more heading in this direction, it is obvious that this is going to pose a great challenge to the economic, social, cultural and demographic situation in that continent, especially as a majority of the migrants are coming from areas with strong Islamic influences which contrasts with Western society.
The main lesson of this unfortunate migrant surge towards Europe is that leaders must make greater efforts to provide good and inclusive governance to their people and unlock the potentials of their societies to give their citizens opportunities to enable them live comfortably in their own homelands.
The United Nations must do more to encourage genuine democratic governance, and prevail upon the superpowers, especially the US and its Western allies to refrain from their tendency to impose their style of governance and lifestyle on others in pursuit of their self-interests. This is responsible for the destabilisation of many Arab countries which had lived in relative stability, such as Libya, Tunisia, Iraq, Egypt and Syria. Societies must be allowed to evolve naturally, and citizens must remain the main drivers of socio-political change in their own countries.
African leaders must take extra steps to stem the shameful tide of economic migrants to other continents because we have enough within our environment to give our people a good life. All it requires is good leadership.
The time for action is now.
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