Europe's Plan to Stop People Leaving Africa Is Failing

Do initiatives to stop migration actually deter people from leaving home, or do they unintentionally help repressive governments like Eritrea, Libya and Sudan?
The ship Vos Prudence carrying 935 migrants from Nigeria, Libya, Mali, Pakistan and Morocco lands in Salerno, Italy, on July 14. Critics worry that EU-funded programs meant to reduce migration could end up helping governments with poor human rights records.
08_25_Nigeria_01 Source: Paolo Manzo/NurPhoto/Getty

Standing in front of a packed classroom at a school in Iruekpen, a remote farming village in southern Nigeria, Precious Owens warns teenage students about the dangers of migrating to Europe. Recruiters trick people into thinking they can get a good job overseas, she explains. “They will come and tell you they have a salon abroad,” she says. But this is often a lie. Instead, migrants en route to Libya frequently wind up imprisoned by smugglers for months, before being shipped across the Mediterranean on rickety boats, she says. The journey is perilous—as are their lives abroad, where many

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