African refugees and migrants, similar to those fleeing civil war in parts of the Middle East, also flee deadly almost forgotten conflicts in search of the American or European dream in the western world.
However, refugees and migrants from the continent are usually faced with tougher immigration policies than their Middle Eastern counterparts.
They seek asylum in efforts to live a normalized life where they won’t be harmed for their religious views or sexual orientation. Others are simply fleeing abject poverty, but are subjugated to being prosecuted, held in detention centers or jail cells before they are quickly extradited back to their countries. Some are considered as thugs or miscreants with dubious intentions.
The influx of Africans from West, East, and North Africa into Europe by way of Greece or Italy is, in most cases, a means to obtaining a better life, and not entering into a life of crime to survive. However, many are now being viewed as Muslims associated with ISIS or extremist activity for which they have no association based on the increased terror activity and threats on the western world.
A report on Samos, an island in Greece, one of the major European countries taking in refugees and giving them food, shelter and the possibility of asylum says the following about the increase of refugees and migrants from Africa, specifically North Africa:
Even if there has been little mainstream comment or even attention to this latest development, the ongoing division of the refugees into separate categories which has been in place for some months with the Syrians being split away from the rest, provokes deep anger among the refugees. ‘What is the difference?’ ask many non-Syrian refugees.
A Time report continues: Yet both sets of newcomers share one experience: life-threatening journeys to Europe. “”We risked everything to cross the Mediterranean,” says Samate, a tall 17-year-old from Senegal. He said he fled his home last February after separatist rebels in the disputed Casamance region where he comes from tried to draft him into battle. The Italian Coast Guard rescued him and other migrants as they tried to cross the Mediterranean in late July, and brought them to Sicily.
They continue to make the perilous journey because as one refugee said, “we’d rather die eaten by fish than eaten by worms.”
We are sensitive to the conflict in the Middle East, specifically the Syrian civil war but let us also be sensitive to the plight of African victims, let us not forget they suffer in the same way.
(With information from The Center for Research on Globalization)