“Refugees are refugees because what they need in life is not there where they are coming from. What everybody needs: something to do to improve your life.”
A lot of inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa believe an escape towards the EU or elsewhere is a solution to improve their existence. People flee the African continent en masse, often consiously accepting the perils of the journey ahead. The effect is described as a refugee crisis. ‘Refugee crisis’ is an expression used by general media to indicate the problems that occur while people try to reach better grounds and after they arrive. It is true that many countries experience difficulties accommodating masses of people as these countries already face many challenges with their own inhabitants. But if anything the cause and effect of this mass migration are African.
However it must be said that indeed Africa, or Northern Africa, does not excell in offering opportunities. If a relocation to for example the EU really is a solution, remains to be seen. The EU is not the land of opportunities, albeit surely more than their own region. In most individual cases people will find that the EU is just as difficult a struggle for existence as many other places. And in this context it is good to remind ourselves we are talking about millions of people struggling to survive.
Lack of Opportunities
One cannot blame people for trying to escape an empoverished situation without much of an outlook. With said circumstances these people are absolutely right. Government after government failed, they have witnessed aid programs fail time and again, international institutions try but miss each goal. It is by no means strange people seek for a better outlook for family and future. The past decades have shown a decline in opportunities to a point where for many people really just a lack of opportunities remains. And this is sad in this twentieth century.
Economic freedom in the world in 2016
Source: image/research by The Heritage Foundation
This lack of opportunities is the main motivator for people to look elsewhere. Where does this come from and what does it do? A number of factors do not help the people in this region: improvable administrative support, limited access to credits, lack of good education, insufficient clean water and (the way we see it) most of all an absence of production means. What choices does one have under these circumstances against a background of battles over religious differences, senseless land disputes, disppearances, crime and an insecure and unsafe environment for children. Top this of with increasing and more devastating droughts and the picture is complete. This is a grim picture for people not having to worry about food the next day, yet this is what a lack of opportunities does.
What if people have a meaningful purpose? What if people can build something and pass it on to their children? What if people can express themselves in a constructive way? What if there are grounds for harmony, synergy and mutual dependence? The picture would change drastically. People can feel safe and confident about each new day. However with each new regional disaster the world responds with more funds for aid programs to send another batch of food, medicins and tents.
Opportunities are not created by sending food and materials. If you cannot produce, you will just need more of this. You become dependent, and this is exactly what happened. Opportunities were not created, dependency was and this is awful. And mainly for this reason there should be a structural change, this dependency needs to be broken down. Dependency has not improved anything and it will not.
Opportunities are created by implementing means for production. Production requires sources. The first and most important source is access to water. Plenty of it. If you have water you can start building something. Small initiatives have shown good results, but they are too small to revice the region. To get sufficient water to the region a radical change is needed. This radical change is enormous and not impossible. This change is what we propose with the construction of the Sahara Canal.
Solving the Refugee Crisis
We started with a promising title and this is what we think. The solution to solving the refugee crisis is to take away the reasons we have seen why people leave. Or put in another way, create a reason for people not to leave. When people have access to means that that enable them to build a life, there will be no need to escape anymore. Secondary disputes will move to the background for a greater force. People will can build something, can earn and consume, can learn and improve, can produce and trade. People can live.
And this could all start from day one of the construction phase of the Sahara Canal. There will be an immediate need for a labor force of millions. People for the actual construction, from preparation and planning to logistics, related services, food industry, cleaning and clothes, building accommodations, security, etc. Workers will start earning money and will be able to support their families. Families will be able to function as families and raise children for a future they are building together.
Note: There is a clear focus on African people to participate in the project, however it will take a global effort to construct the Sahara Canal. The amount of jobs created in numerous industries in other parts of the world is not to be underestimated either.
And unlike many other projects, the Sahara Canal will provide a continuous stream of hands-on opportunities.
To solve the refugee crisis takes a global effort and a project with an impact of huge proportions.