- An EU-funded information campaign in Senegal, aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of irregular migration in order to prevent the many tragedies befalling irregular migrants, is today being extended to the southern Casamance region.
The campaign, which kicks off in the department of Vélingara, uses national and regional radio and television to get awareness messages out to an estimated 100,000 persons living in Casamance and in neighbouring Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. A local organisation, the Association Internationale pour Médina-Marty (AIMM), is participating in the EU-sponsored campaign.
A road-show featuring "Beyond the Dreams", a documentary on the life of young Senegalese who live as undocumented migrants in Europe, is to travel next week to towns and villages affected by high rates of emigration in order to raise awareness of "some the realities of daily life as undocumented migrants in Europe," according to the campaigners. Needless to say, the film only focuses on the problems illegal migrants can face in Europe.
The month-long campaign, which also seeks to inform potential migrants of the few, but existing, legal methods of migration, falls within a programme of inter-regional dialogue between the European Union (EU), North and sub-Saharan Africa.
Casamance, the southern part of Senegal which has suffered from a low-scale civil war for decades, has experienced over the past years a marked increase in the number of people embarking on rickety boats for a perilous 1,000 mile sea journey towards the Canary Islands, with many perishing at sea.
The Casamance region already regularly produces streams of refugees pouring into The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau when fighting between Casamance independence rebels and Senegalese troops hits the area. The continued low-scale war has trapped the potentially rich region in deep poverty as farmers often have to leave their fields fleeing and foreign investors shy everything but the well protected coastal tourist resorts.
Casamance also at many occasions has suffered from large refugee influxes from neighbouring Guinea-Bissau, a chronically instable country, which now however is seen to be on the right track.
While the new campaign tries to inform potential migrants about problems bound to face them in Europe, little is still done to assist the region's economic development. While the EU is assisting Senegalese central authorities in its development aims, Casamance secessionists still hold too little is invested in their region.
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