The death toll on the Mediterranean has nearly matched that of all last year, with more than 3,740 migrants and refugees having drowned on their way to Europe, and perilous winter months still to come, aid agencies said on Tuesday.
Smugglers are now sending thousands of people on flimsy inflatable rafts from Libya to Italy in mass embarkations, perhaps to lower their own risks of being caught, but also complicating the work of rescue teams, they said.You have to go to other sources, however, such as a recent story in the Economist, to realize that these migrants have little to do with the conflict in the Middle East. Rather, they are leaving the rapidly growing countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, especially Nigeria. Think about this: Nigeria is currently the 7th most populous nation in the world, but it is on track to surpass the U.S. by the middle of this year and become the 3rd most populous country, thanks to a birth rate that is currently at 5.5 children per woman. Its economy is heavily dependent upon oil and the drop in oil prices has generated economic problems throughout Nigeria (maybe not as bad as in Venezuela, but still bad). What to do? Head to Europe, that's what. Nigerians have been arriving in Italy without documents for a long time, but the pace is picking up, and it isn't clear that it will slacken any time soon.