A small but growing number of middle-class citizens from West African countries are migrating to Europe, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday.
This was bad news for the migrants' home countries, as their developing economies cannot afford to lose skilled workers, said Joel Millman, spokesman of the Geneva-based aid and advocacy organization.
"This development is alarming for their countries because no country wants people with assets to leave, and they're enriching criminal gangs," he told dpa, referring to the smuggling rings that assist them in reaching Europe.
IOM has been seeing more middle-class migrants, such as small farmers and shop-owners, among migrants from Senegal, Ghana, Togo and Ivory Coast.
"These countries are not associated with civil war, drought or natural disasters," Millman said.
A growing number of people seem to be willing to take risks and pay smugglers to go to Europe, rather than waiting for visas for years, he added.
Since January, people from Nigeria, Gambia, Senegal, Guinea and Ivory Coast have made up the largest groups of arrivals in Italy, according to the country's Interior Ministry.
Arrivals from Gambia jumped 60 per cent to 2,270 people in the first quarter, compared to the same period last year.
The number of migrants from Guinea rose sixfold to 1,594, while those from Ivory Coast tripled to 1,541 between January and March.
Millman said he could not say whether this would turn out to be a continuing trend.