by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE drowning of thousands of African migrants and refugees in desperate attempts to reach Europe in recent years is a reminder for African governments to build a better life for its citizens.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said this ahead of South Africa joining the rest of the continent in marking Africa Day, to be commemorated on Tuesday.
“Over the years we have become accustomed to seeing images of African men, women and children crammed into boats and makeshift rafts trying to reach Europe,” he stated in his weekly letter on Monday.
According to relief organisations more than 20 000 people have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean since 2014.
“As we observe Africa Day tomorrow (Tuesday, 25th May), these tragic stories remind us of the huge task we have to build a better life for all the people of Africa,” Ramaphosa said.
“While we celebrate the progress we have made towards building a peaceful and prosperous continent, events in faraway North Africa show that we still have a long way to go.”
Ramaphosa also lamented images revealed last week of a boy adrift off the coast of the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.
He was clinging to a makeshift buoy made of plastic bottles and desperately trying to make it to the shore.
“Life is so difficult for millions of people on our continent and opportunities so few that they would risk their lives crossing the sea in pursuit of a better future,” Ramaphosa said.
He noted the COVID-19 pandemic had worsened the woes of people already suffering from the effects of conflict, under-development and poverty.
Ramaphosa urged all 54 African governments, as the continent observed Africa Day, to deepen efforts to achieve a sustainable and lasting social and economic recovery for the citizens of Africa.
“Ours must become a continent that is thriving and prosperous, not one from which its people are dying in an attempt to leave.”
Africa Day commemorates the founding of the then-Organisation of African Unity on May 25, 1963. It was disbanded in 2002 by its last chairman, then-South African President Thabo Mbeki, and replaced by the African Union (AU).
– CAJ News