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75,000 to 100,000 Ethiopians migrated irregularly to Libya annually to make their way to Europe, reads a 2011 report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and arrivals have not calmed since, suggests the most recent report from ILO. Between 2012 and 2014, the number of those arriving to Italy by boat via Libya, including Ethiopians, was rising. Flows in the opposite direction to the South are also crowded with at least 20,000 Somalis and Ethiopians making the journey to South Africa, every month.
2015 has been dubbed by most as a year of migration and of death en route. Migration has been in global spotlight with the refugee crisis in Syria driving hundreds of thousands to Europe in 2015. With over 3,770 estimated deaths, it has been the deadliest year on record for migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean, trying to reach Europe. In comparison, approximately 3,270deaths were recorded in the Mediterranean in 2014. Globally, IOM estimates that over 5,350 migrants died in 2015.
Central Mediterranean route that is mostly sued by smugglers operating in Libya is the most deadly with 77 percent of deaths, often during sea crossings, occurring in the area. The Mediterranean route has been labeled as the most dangerous region; Southeast Asia comes second with 800 deaths and the US-Mexico route is third with around 330 deaths, according to the report.
From Ethiopia, the flow is of young men escaping lives of subsistence farming in search of better employment and livelihood opportunities abroad. However, the out flow of young women is also not to be underestimated, according to the report. Migrants and refugees from neighboring countries are also significant in the out flow, the most prominent being Eritrean refugees and Somalis.
The report also raises growing concern over human trafficking and hardship and abuses migrants face on their journey; most are held captive and abused for ransom to be paid by their already destitute families.
One of the major challenges over the coming years will be for the international community, both governments and societies to work towards managing diversity. However, IOM underlines this will not be easy as several paradoxes need to be addressed; the national sovereignty of states and individual aspiration of migrants do not always align.