Globally, illegal migration remains a historic human phenomenon that continues to worry humanity and world leaders alike.
There has always been a wave of refugees mostly from Africa trying to enter Europe illegally. Many of these in the last couple of years have been held up at the Calais “jungle” in Calais-France.
To champion safe migration for Africans, Kwame Nyantakyi Oti, an award-winning Ghanaian journalist studying War and Conflict Journalism at Swansea University cycled from Denmark to Swansea in the United Kingdom.
In the minds of the world, Calais does not exist, but in reality it does. There are people there who need our help regardless of the conditions under which they migrated.
During his 888.5 miles trip, he passed through Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, and Calais in France.
‘‘It is important that you don’t end up in places like Calais. If you want to migrate, I am not saying people should not migrate, because migration has been with human beings since the beginning of time. It is important to go through the right channels to migrate,” he told Africanews’ Ignatius Annor.
At the Calais refugee camp, he had a firsthand experience of the conditions of the refugees trying to enter Europe. Oti said the world has forgotten about refugees here after the camp gained fame for its closure in 2016.
‘‘There are about 200 people who live in what used to be the Calais jungle. It is a jungle literally because they live in the forest day and night. And there are no tents, they live under deplorable conditions. The only way by which they survive is through the kindness of some Red Cross officials whom I happen to have seen when I visited Calais.
“And this trip has shown me that Calais is something we need to talk about. In the minds of the world, Calais does not exist, but in reality it does. There are people there who need our help. Regardless of the conditions under which they migrated.
“I think that it is an aberration on the conscience of people that we allow our fellow human beings to be under the conditions that they are in Calais. We need to have that conversation,” he said.
Some 6,400 migrants were evacuated from the encampment in 170 buses in 2016.
The migrants were mostly from Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia. He spent 19 days on the journey with two other friends; Sophia Jessen and Stefan Weichart.
Oti concurs that the trip wasn’t all rosy as they had to endure rains, cold and storm; but his mission to champion safe migration for Africans would not stop him.
The award-winning Ghanaian journalist has about 10 years’ experience working across the African continent.
In 2016, Oti left Ghana to pursue further studies in Europe. His work focuses on Development, Politics and Tourism.