Many Africans dream about a better life in Europe. But reality often looks different. A new DW series explores a major challenge of our time: migration. It provokes hopes and fears, touches individuals and nations alike.
Journalists and correspondents from DW's English for Africa, French for Africa and Hausa departments are now at work on the project in Germany, Italy, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Gambia. They are talking to migrants in the European reception centers, returnees, friends and relatives of those who went missing while on their way to Europe and will also be looking at local and international efforts or provide jobs for young Africans in their own countries.
For Africans trying to make it to Europe, it's not just the boat trip across the Mediterranean that can be deadly. Thousands never even reach the coast. Some lose their lives in the desert, while others fall into the hands of criminal gangs, such as those in Gao.
Hundreds of migrants pass through the northern Malian city of Gao every month on their way to Europe. This is where the dangerous journey through the Sahara desert begins. DW met a "coaxer" who promises migrants he'll put them in contact with traffickers who will take them through the desert. It's "a dirty business," as he admits.
Niger has become a classic transit country for refugees from west Africa on their way to Europe. Via bus stations in Mali and the north of Niger, migrants pay smugglers to help them get to Libya and finally reach the Mediterranean coast. But recently, an increasing number of migrants on the journey have been turning around and heading home.
At a time when many migrants are boarding boats for life-threatening journeys to what they can only hope is a better life in Europe, Dame Sylla is choosing to stay at home, get an apprenticeship and work in Senegal—thanks in part to a German charity.
More than 10,000 migrants from Gambia made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Italy in 2016. DW correspondent Adrian Kriesch met one young Gambian who attempted the trip to Europe but failed to reach his destination. He was lucky to return home alive.