Desperate times, desperate measures?

BaksWelcome to the second edition of SALT magazine, and many thanks to all those who have sent us their messages of encouragement and appreciation after our launch in October. Your comments, good or otherwise, are always welcomed and will help us to provide the type of magazine you want, and that we wish it to become.

All too soon we find ourselves at the end of another year in which, sadly, so much ongoing conflict is still occurring – in too many parts of the world, including Africa.

As a by-product of this global upheaval, we hear of the tragedy of lives lost as desperate people seek to escape to a better future. In October a boat carrying around 250 African refugees capsized near the Italian island of Lampedusa, leaving at least 50 dead including children; and a further 12 died as a boat carrying 500 refugees capsized off the Egyptian coast.

Regrettably these tragedies are repeated in Australian waters, and we stand as helpless witnesses as they continue to unfold….and as political influences seem to outweigh humanitarian considerations.

What then makes people so desperate as to risk their lives to seek refuge in a ‘developed’ country?

Should we take the blame for building irresistible magnets for those desperate people; or for making entry to our standards of living so difficult; or for failing to resolve the deprivations of most third world nation states?

From an African perspective, I think it’s time for African leaders to stop pointing their collective fingers of blame and take responsibility for their part in creating this human tragedy.

With the abundant riches and resources of Africa, it borders on incredible that people are prepared to flee their homelands, risking their lives in search of better living conditions elsewhere – leaving behind the poverty, the corruption, and the wasted opportunities.

A friend once told me that he thought life and living conditions in Australian detention was preferable to a life of freedom in Africa. This is truly a cruel indictment of both worlds – reflecting both the paradoxes and the cultural divides between them – what one nation sees a deterrent, the other sees as an attraction.

This is not a problem that the United Nations, or America or Europe or just money can resolve. Over time humanity may prevail, but sadly, our aspirations for a fairer, better world seem too far distant to provide any comfort, even if hope remains as ever, optimistic.

We will hold to that hope in wishing a better, happier New Year for our readers – and for all our countless brothers and sisters wherever they may be, who are still seeking an entry to the type of life we enjoy and all too often, take for granted.

Sidique is the founder of Salt Magazine. He came to Australia in 2001 after fleeing a civil war in his homeland of Sierra Leone. He studied journalism at Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone and worked as a reporter for the Statesman Newspaper. He studied a Bachelor of Arts specialising in Multimedia Studies at the University of South Australia.

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