• 24 May

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How Bad is the Senegal Refugee Crisis?

Senegal hugely lacks employment opportunities, causing young people to go without permanent employment.

Rather than endure the derelict job market and the hardships that come alongside it, thousands of Senegalese people abandon their home country. This is extremely damaging to the young people of Senegal [link to Senegal page] as not only is the journey across the Mediterranean undeniably difficult, but they are not welcomed into Europe with open arms.

A Youthful Population

Approximately two-thirds of the Senegalese population is under 18, but there are not enough decent jobs to accommodate the growing working population. As the population continues to grow, the opportunities dwindle as the job market becomes ridiculously competitive.

Furthermore, a competitive job market is not suited to Senegal’s education system, where informal education is prevalent throughout the country. This contributes to the illiteracy rate, and in the absence of the ability to read and write, navigating employment is even more difficult.

Additionally, the number of girls in education outnumbers the number of boys in education until they reach secondary school level. At this point, the trend reverses so that girls can focus their energy on becoming homemakers. Therefore, it is even more tricky for young women to find employment as they are often denied the necessary educational training.

The Journey Across the Mediterranean

More and more young people are fleeing from Senegal and travelling across the Mediterranean to seek a better life. Despite this, the journey is in no way safe, with refugees crowding into cramped and insecure boats. The lack of safety measures leads to many boat disasters; in 2020, on one journey alone, 140 out of 200 refugees drowned on the voyage to Europe.

The European Reception

If the Senegalese refugees are lucky enough to survive the journey across the Mediterranean, they are then faced with further difficulty upon reaching Europe. They receive far from a warm welcome, with countries such as Italy obstructing and closing their borders, making it increasingly difficult to gain access to the country.

Similarly, if the refugees manage to make their way into the country, many European countries will make their presence illegal. To legally inhabit and work in a country that you are not native to, you will need to acquire the necessary visas. European governments make it extremely difficult for Senegalese and other African refugees to obtain and renew visas and often deport them.

Stigmatisation of the Casamance region of Senegal is the most detrimental factor to a citizen’s ability to relocate and establish themselves in a professional setting.

Poor Distribution of Wealth

Around 60% of Senegal’s population lives on less than $3.10 per day, leaving them unable to fund the most basic necessities. Meanwhile, the wealthiest 20% of Senegal holds 46.9% of the country’s wealth. It is no wonder that new entrants into the job market are struggling and consequently abandoning the country and its employment system.

Conflict States and a War-based Economy

The Senegalese nation is still undergoing a three-year-old-ceasefire, and therefore the stability and wellbeing of its inhabitants are severely threatened. Since February, as many as 14 civilians, including persons of refugee and internally displaced status, have been killed due to the conflict.

Not only has the conflict physically wounded the country, but it has also financially damaged multiple local villages. The Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) has frequently looted these communities to fund its military campaigns.

Such corruption of the MFDC has created a war-based economy, which has since led to drug trafficking and installed fear into the people of Casamance. Drug trafficking is particularly prominent between Casamance and Guinea-Bissau, and many Senegalese refugees have turned to this dangerous illegal drug trade for work.

Another consequence of this conflict is the 62,638 internally displaced people in and around Senegal. Not only is physical displacement rife across the country, but other forms of displacement, such as the postponing of infrastructure development, have destroyed post-war job opportunities and led to economic stagnation.

What We Do

As an organisation, we aim to deliver consistent support to people in need in developing nations who do not have the means to help themselves. We work to provide those in poverty with food parcels, access to education, and essential medical care. With these provisions in place, we hope that one day, no one will feel the need to flee their home.

The initial stages of travelling from Senegal to the struggles of establishing oneself in Europe as a refugee is absolutely terrifying. With your donations, we can help minimise the deaths at sea and the exploitation of refugees overseas.

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