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Africans Search for Better Lives in Europe

The countries of Morocco and Spain are looking for solutions to stem the tide of thousands of Africans, who risk their lives traveling across deserts and straits to illegally immigrate to European shores.

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  • JEFFREY KAYE, Reporter, KCET-Los Angeles:

    Since the beginning of the year, some 4,000 African migrants, many of them exhausted and sick, have been detained by Spanish authorities. They've traveled the high seas towards Spain's Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa, a 500-mile trip.

    Migrants from Africa have long trekked north to escape lives of want and misery. In the past, most took safer routes. But as a result of recent crackdowns on illegal immigration from Africa, migrants are now making longer and more perilous journeys.

    This year, an estimated 1,300 have died at sea. It's a tragic exodus to what many migrants consider a promised land: Europe.

    Their goal in reaching Europe is refuge, work and a better life. These men made it to Madrid. They spent years getting to Spain. Most of their trip was over land, 2,000 miles from West Africa and across the Sahara Desert.

  • AFRICAN IMMIGRANT:

    I see many bones, many bones.

  • JEFFREY KAYE:

    Bones?

  • AFRICAN IMMIGRANT:

    Bones, bones, bones, bones.

  • JEFFREY KAYE:

    Human bones?

  • AFRICAN IMMIGRANT:

    Human bones. They died on (inaudible)

  • JEFFREY KAYE:

    Ben's (ph) brother in Nigeria sold family land to pay a smuggler.

  • AFRICAN IMMIGRANT:

    1,200 Euros.

  • JEFFREY KAYE:

    1,200 Euro? And for that you got the boat ride?

    Traffickers charge about $1,500 a person for a dangerous 24-hour-long trip on a fishing boat across the Straits of Gibraltar. At its narrowest point, some nine miles separate Africa and Europe.

    This narrow band of water has long been an intersection of commerce and culture, as well as a corridor for warriors and invaders. Now, Spanish coastal patrol boats and surveillance stations look towards Africa in search of illegal migrants.