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Europe migration seen through the eyes of Senegalese workers

41 year old Ibrahima Mbaye came to Lampedusa a year and a half ago.   -  
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AFP

Italy

He is one of the lucky few to have arrived legally in Lampedusa.

41 year old Senegalese Ibrahima Mbaye, came to the Italian island a year and a half ago to work as a fisherman.

After spending four years in Milan, he finally settled here when he was hired as part of the crew of the 'Vincenzo Padre'.

Now on the front line of the migration crisis, he says he would have never imagined seeing so many boats come ashore.

"The first time I arrived in Lampedusa, I thought I would see one, two or three boats of migrants, but when I came here I saw 20 or more than 20 boats arriving in the summer. I wouldn't believe it, if somebody would have told me that 30 or 25 boats arrive everyday in Lampedusa, I would not have believed it," Ibrahima Mbaye, 41-year-old fisherman from Senegal.

"But now that I came here, I see it with my own eyes. All from Africa, or Bangladesh, everybody is leaving Africa and coming here."

Waly Sarr, a 30 year old from Dakar, has been living in Lampedusa for the past ten years. He too is a part of the mixed Italian-Senegalese crew of the fishing boat 'Vincenzo Padre'.

Attempting a journey that could mean to die drowned into the unknown is what is left as the only option for many poor people in Africa who look for a job, both Sarr and Mbaye say.

If no other way to reach Europe legally was there, that is what they would have done too, in order to find a job and send money back home.

"Of course there is a risk (in crossing the sea to come to Europe), but you don't see it, you don't want to risk it," says Waly Sarr.

"The only thing you see is that you want to come to find work and nobody knows that you can die at sea, if you know you are to die at sea you don't do it, but if you take that risk it's because you want people back home to survive, if you have nothing back home you say 'I go, and if I die, I die. If I get to Europe, I'll get there.'"

Over the past decade, Italy has become one of the main gateways to Europe.

According to the UNHCR, out of the estimated 25,000 people to have arrived in Southern Europe this year, more than 13,000 landed in Italy .

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