In a emotive if poorly thought through and badly informed piece for the Telegraph (£), the socialist activist Mr Dan Hodges, the son of sixties actress Miss Glenda Jackson, demands that 'the dead of Lampedusa' are given a voice in the EU's immigration debate. Hodges writes "According to the EU, over a thousand refugees a year die trying to reach the European mainland." The scale of death from that single boat incident is tragic, as is a rail crash or bus accident in which multiple fatalities make the headlines.The reality is that most deaths in Africa happen singly, not by the boatload, and are perhaps unnoticed by Mr Hodges
Africa south of the Sahara has a population of about 812,190,818 at 2010 levels according to the World Bank, and rough annual mortality rate of 12.6 per 1,000. That's about ten million deaths every year. A quarter of those deaths, some 2.5m a year, are of children under 5 years.
Of that 2.5m, 1.1m children under 5 die in Nigeria alone every year -
that's over a thousand times the number of Africans dying from
immigration attempts from just one nation alone. Most of the rest die in
the age group 20 - 45 years; death from old age is not the norm in
Africa. In fact, if one uses South Africa's mortality causes as a guide, some 8.9% of those 10,000,000 deaths a year in Africa are caused by 'External causes of morbidity and mortality' - which includes everything from being eaten by a crocodile to being shot by bandits. Including drowning when a leaky boat sinks. That's about a million Africans a year, of whom only a thousanth or 0.1% die while attempting to enter Europe.
A thousand accidental deaths a year are sad but in statistical terms insignificant - I'll bet a thousand Africans a year die from Scorpion bites, but I can't see Mr Hodges campaigning to Kill the Scorpions. A thousand more may be trampled by Zebras, but Hodges isn't out there installing special road crossings for these animals, nor is he fitting Hippos with muzzles or castrating boy anopheles mosquitos. In fact the whole piece is just an empty piece of puff, of drivel, of uninformed vacuousness. If Hodges actually really cared about African lives rather than making socialist points, he'd start with those 2.5m infants dying every year. That infant mortality rate is the reason so many Nigerian village girls want to have their babies safety, in the maternity ward of Mr Hodges' local hospital.