Regarding the Jan. 4 front-page article "The unintended consequence of a crackdown on smugglers":

African teens and young adults are actively recruited, not driven, into "migration" and terrorism. The European Union's crackdown is not causing greater risks. It is the unintended consequence of decades of failed foreign policies and mismanaged foreign aid.

Ten years ago, the "human flow" was through Senegal and Mauritania to Spain. Investment in coast guard patrols and maritime security displaced migration to routes through vast, ungoverned expanses of land in Niger and Libya to Italy. Effective border patrols and anti-trafficking laws are necessary, but they are also opening up alternative routes branching off from the "tie-and-die" road (replacing the earlier "salt-and-silk" road) that runs from Ethiopia and Chad to Senegal and back.

The root of the migration "virus" is not poverty and strife. It is a lack of empowerment, autonomy and agency to make other choices that foreign policies and aid have failed to generate over the past four decades. Isn't it time that makers of foreign policy started pressuring African governments to be more accountable to the citizens that flee them? Isn't it time aid started working for those who have limited choices instead of against them?

Astrid Ruiz Thierry, Manassas