Challenging The “Backway”: Reversing The Trend of Irregular Youth Migration

Challenging the “Backway”: Reversing the trend of irregular youth migration from Sub-Saharan Africa to Europe #backwaysolutions

By Global Hands and Partners

Hundreds of thousands of people, mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa, attempt to escape the “horrendous situations” they live in, in search of greener pastures.  There are many fatalities that occur from the dangerous routes taken to get into Europe, some evidenced by the news showing videos of migrant boats capsizing in the Mediterranean or Atlantic Ocean.  This method of travel is known as the “Backway”. During the journey from Sub-Saharan Africa to Mainland Europe, via Libya, not only do many young people lose their lives, but there are many increasing heartbreaking stories of these young people being sold as slaves in open markets in Libya for a price of 200 – 500 dollars; sexual abuse, kidnapping and even allegations of being used for organ transplants.

Global Hands and its partners have initiated a #Candleofhope social media campaign to promote #Backwaysolutions. This campaign aims to raise awareness of the Backway and to provoke consciousness that leads to action, as too many young men and women are losing their lives in either the Saharan desert or seas everyday, unnecessarily.  The aim is to provide solutions and to find other options to save the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters. The following activities have been developed in this light:

Backway Single and Music Video

“Backway” is a new single created by an artist from The Gambia, Silver P, and an artist from Leicester, Ayolah, with a focus on raising awareness about irregular migration from mainly Sub-Saharan Africa to Europe. You can find the link to the music video below:

It is sponsored by Global Hands, and is sung in both Wollof (a local Gambian dialect) and English. The single was produced in The Gambia, and all proceeds will go towards supporting both artists, and towards the establishment of a sustainable youth development fund, which will provide solutions to the “Backway”. 

Available for download

iTunes Backway – Single by Silver P & Ayolah

Backway to Europe: Gateway to Death in the Mediterranean Documentary

This is a short documentary produced by Hexalens in collaboration with Global Hands and James Skinner Films, exploring the “Backway” phenomenon (irregular youth migration) mainly from The Gambia in Sub-Saharan Africa, via Libya to mainland Europe. The documentary speaks of the hopelessness that drives youths from Sub-Sahara into perilous journeys across the desert and Mediterranean, often resulting in fatalities. This is a journey into the backway.

Run4Arica 2017

The Run4Africa is an annual event to be held in both Leicester, UK and The Gambia on the 29th April.  The event is open to all ages to come along and run, walk, dance or crawl their way through 5km. We aim to raise awareness of international issues, to provoke discussions on these issues and to provide solutions through the money raised. This year, we are focusing on #Candleofhope and #Backwaysolutions to highlight the dire plight of young migrants involved in the backway. There will also be a #Candleoflight Africa Festival immediately after the Run4Africa at Abbey Park, featuring various artists, internationally chosen to interpret the backway theme.

For more info, please visit

How to get involved

We call on the general public to support this campaign by:

  1. Sharing the music video and Backway documentary on social media.

  2. Signing up for the Run4Africa on the 29th April both in Leicester (UK) and The Gambia.

  3. Promoting awareness and initiating discussions about the causes, consequences and solutions to the backway issue. This can be done at the personal, local, national and global levels.

  4. Developing solutions with those most affected through a participatory approach. What concrete project can we initiate and implement to address the inhumane conditions generated by the backway?

  5. Remember to tag #backwaysolutions #Candleofhope

For more information, please contact:

Momodou Sallah

Chair, Board of Directors

Global Hands

Nuala Flannigan

Communications Manager

Global Hands

Partners: De Montfort University Square Mile, Yaram Arts, Interface TV, Hexalens, National Youth Council of The Gambia.



  1. This is an important effort to change the mind of the youth about illegally migrating to these countries. It is a false promise, and the outcome is endless regrets. There is a large population of unemployed youth in these countries they want to migrate to, and many of the employed youth are doing dead end jobs with unlivable wages.

    If you enter these countries, you will quickly find yourself homeless, hungry or eating very bad food. You might be roaming the mean streets and involved in illegal activities that could easily land you in jail or you will be hurt by someone. Do not listen to those telling you that you will be better off taking the back way and migrate illegally, no,You will be worse off.

    My brothers, stay at home and you will eventually do just fine.

  2. Stay at home and you will eventually do just fine. If you illegally migrate to these countries, you will quickly become homeless in the unsafe cold streets without food or eating very bad food. You might involve yourself in illegal activities which could quickly land you in jail or hurt by someone.

    These countries are also struggling with large number of their own youth unemployment or underemployed with dead-end jobs they cannot survive with. If you cannot migrate legally, you will be better off to stay at home.