YOUTH MIGRATION FROM AFRICA WHAT PROSPECTS
BY STEPHEN NKEM ASEK;
The departure of youth migrants and their arrival in host countries generates a wide range of problems relating to economic, demographic, social and health issues on the one hand and socio-economic benefits on the other hand; on their countries of origin and on their countries of refuge.
The International Organization for Migration (I.O.M) has divided international migrants into two groups; those who migrate of their own free will, leaving for study, work or to join their family, repression or natural disaster. The two categories have rapidly become interdependent because of their fairly interrelated motive of searching for better employment opportunities abroad.
Build on the aforementioned motive, youth migration from poor countries with low probability of employment to richer and more dynamic countries where there is an opportunity to fine some sort of job and better welfare condition has intensified over the last few years. As if to probably illustrate the phenomenon of youth exodus from poor countries the media recently reported the plight of Africans prepared to take on the desert to seek better life in Khadafi`s Libya.
Besides Libya other major centers of attraction are the United States and the European Union with countries in Southern Europe gradually becoming immigrant-receiving countries. The third major region that attracts migrants is the oil rich Middle East. The fourth major region set to be another target for increasing numbers is Asia/ Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand.
Nevertheless, owing to the demographic reports in Europe, Europeans have become aware of the demographic turn down and the ageing of the population that will set in over the next few decades. The dearth of manpower in certain sectors is becoming a serious problem in numerous countries requiring a rethinking of immigration policies that have prevailed over the years. Though faced with the task to resolve this conundrum, Europe can no longer simply close its eyes as it consumes illegal youth workers whose entry into the E.U is prohibited thereby supplying circuits trafficking in human beings.
The challenges of managing international migrants are manifold and urgent. The ambivalent reaction to this dynamics is reflected in procedures for legalizing foreigners without papers in certain countries. Other adjustments include harmonizing and improving refugee reception policies that regulate the legal entry of migrants while discouraging illegal migration and human trafficking. Another urgent challenge is taking an active part in the development policy of the youth migrant’s country of origin.
With the increasing figure of youth migrants moving away from their country’s of origin to developed countries migration is on its way of becoming the heart of development. As
long as under development persist, wealthier countries will continue to be a magnet of people who find no economic development prospects at home. In an increasingly inter-connected world, neither privilege nor poverty can be contained within the borders.
What Then Are Youth Migration Outcomes On Their Countries Of Origin
Like slave trade, youth migration deprives Africa of the cream of its society. Migrants are a nations most energetic, feisty and entrepreneurial citizens. Justifying this assertion Dieudone Gnammankou in his doctoral thesis in history and civilization presented a
series of African slaves who at various times made remarkable contributions to arts and sciences in Europe while their original countries staggered in under-development and backwardness.
thJuan Latino (1516-c.1595) was one of the greatest poets and scholars of 16 century
Spain. Taught Latin and Greek at the university of Granada and is considered one of the monuments of17th century Spanish literature.
thAnton Amo a native of what is now Ghana, lived in Germany in the 18 century,
published three philosophical works and taught at the university of Halle, Wittenberg and Jena. He was also adviser to the court at Berlin.
Jean le Noir An African protégé； of Frederick II, he was also appointed Vizier of the
Kingdom of Sicily. thIn the 16 century Venice, a black woman Anne, known as the Italian Cleopatra for her
great beauty, was mistress to the Cardinal de Medici (the future pope Clement VII) a son was born of this union, Alessandro de Medici, known as the Moor, who became the first Duke of Florence.
thIgnatius Sancho, in 18 century England became a celebrated man of letters and the best seller of its day.
Abraham Petrovitch Hanibal (1696-1781) born in Logone Cameroon, a learned
engineer and author of the treatises Practical Geometry and Fortification, became
technical director and general in chief of the Russian Imperial Army. Directed most of the major construction projects undertaking in Russia and founded the city of Elizabethgrad, ( Kirovagrad, Ukraine). Alexander Pushkin his great grandson was Russia’s greatest poet.
Alexandre Damas a great French author was the grand son of a former African slave thwoman in Santo Domingo. If these 15th and 16 century African expertise had not been
“buried” in their adopted countries or were invested in the development of the continent I wonder where on the classification chart Africa could have been today. Developing countries particularly Africa are being strip off the possibility of attaining the impressive height of a developed nation by the setting in of migration in an unparallel and unchecked way. For how long shall the black presence continue to suffer reproach, servitude, trafficking, illegal migration, exploitation, repatriation and prejudice? Evidence exist that
in Morocco, almost every year, thousands of Africans dream of building castles in Spain and of finding happiness in Europe. Wondering along the roads or packed into sordid hotel rooms in Morocco, Africans are pushed by the nightmare of an interminable wait or a life that may end at the bottom of the Straits of Gibraltar. Some of the young migrants who try to cross the narrow channel hope that on the other side they will find reasons to go on living. It is indeed a chronicle of desperate adventure.
Eyoum Ngangue； a correspondence for The Courier laments in one of his reports, of
youth migrants from Africa who continue to embark on the adventure to Eldorado at the risk of their lives in the bottom of a ship’s hold, in an aircraft’s under carriage, in the cold of a refrigerated lorry or even on board cockleshells. Spanish and Moroccan media publish macabre news about the dramas taking place between Africa and Europe as capsized launches and bodies of migrants are ripped in pieces by sharks.
As barriers mount, increasing desperate measures are taken by people prepared to risk their lives to circumvent them. For traffickers it is an opportunity to generate huge profits but for the clandestine migrants a terrifying and fatal journey. Increasingly, a bulk of African youths continue to be driven by the desperate desire to escape destitution from a continent devastated by bad governance, embezzlement, nepotism, exploitation, unemployment, hunger and political crises.
What Stakes For the African Governments?
The propensity for illegal migration today amongst youth circles should serve as a strong wake –up call to all African leaders; not only to adjust their systems and policies but also to set up priority youth targeted programs that will give the continent a new face-lift.
Nelson Mandela said, “I hope and vowed then that among the treasures that life might offer me would be the opportunity to serve my country and make my humble contribution to their struggle”.
George Washington made a similar statement to this connection when he said “I hope I
shall ways possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most valuable of all titles; the character of an honest man”. If Africans are suffering it is
certainly the effect of dishonesty in the character of the continent’s leadership and an unwillingness of the power brokers to contribute to their struggle. Africa is the richest in raw materials yet poorest in basic social welfare of its citizenry. The desperation of Africans is not normal. It requires a responds from those who hold the “horns” of the continent. As youths we are appealing for the authorities in Africa to choose compliance with their conscience as against compliance with personal interest. In this way we can give posterity a chance to experience true Africa.
African youths need a responsive and proactive executive leadership at all levels of national affairs; one that is governed and guided by the rule of leading the people by example. We desire a new order of authority build on the framework of bringing about change by serving as an example. Times tell us that we should pursue peace without the
possible use of coercion. The excellence of government is in respecting the people’s
democracy and also in implementing accords, protocols and resolutions without the eruption of domination and subjugation. Without such a pattern of leadership the myth that Europe is a paradise to many Africans will hardly be reverted.
The intensity of youth migration is because these youths have the opinion that Africa is poor. Poverty is not limited to not having money in your pocket, National Treasury or Central Bank. Poverty is in ideas of leadership and mentalities. Poverty is a nations concept of live. Africa is rated poor partly because the continent’s concept of life is “ we
are poor” and partly because the leadership ideology of growth has been engrafted on a framework of Foreign Aids and Material Consumption.
There is a dire need for governments to set in attitude transformation programs as part of their national development strategy on a bottom top, top bottom approach. Without which an attituite crisis will be another major driving force for illegal migration to Europe after all is possibly said and done concerning Exodus from Africa. If nothing is done to control and contain the illegal movement of people out of poor countries; and incentives introduced for those willing to stay and work at home to work, the world risk facing a situation of global insecurity where the tightening of borders, destitution and repulsion produces a further intensity of bitterness and hostility between various races and the possible proliferation of barbaric activities as obtained in some developed countries today.
The Issue of Leadership Proximity to the African People
The crisis of proximity between the governed and the governors is acute and severe. Governors pontificate issues about the African community, which they know too little about. It is difficult to address/redress what one is too uninformed about. This is the more reason while most of the intended solutions tend to yield little or no results. The issue of leadership proximity has created an enabling environment for corruption to occur and to persist. Naturally corruption does not exist as a matter of policy. Corruption is an evidence of the absence of leadership and judicial proximity. In the event of this weakness individuals can embezzle and misappropriate state resources with impunity.
Too many governments in Africa by their actions manifest a certainty that they are very distant from the realities of their most remote communities. Overloaded with wrong information many African government officials have failed the test of getting off the high
horse. In my humble opinion as a grass root worker, the people should be regarded as the true source of all sustainable development and values.
Go to the people
Live among them
Learn form them
Plan with them
Start with what they know
Build with what they have.
No leadership can empathize with the people without proximity. For any successful employment of international assistance and cooperation agreement leadership proximity should constitute a major requirement. Proximity will cause leadership to develop a responsive and accountable character towards the people and the international community. This will be a starting point in containing exodus from the continent.
What Stakes For Youth Civil Societies in Africa
While most governments in Africa continue to manifest reluctance in addressing illegal youth migration, a new authority in advocating, propagating and lobbing has to develop within youth civil society communities and organizations. Youth Civil Society Organizations (YCSO) must be the voice that will provoke governments to loosen reforms to the advantage of the thousands of youth migrants who die yearly trying to flee the desperation and poverty in their home countries. We have invested a lot of our resources and time in organizing conferences and seminars. Now we have to turn our attention to talking with those who hold the power and for those who do not have any power.
We need a visible, local, national, regional and international voice form youth activists and organizations against the illegal migration and abuse of youth migrants by host countries. We have to target the political wheel (elected representatives) and make them turn towards our direction. We have to press for representative statues in places of decision-making and where we cannot, we invite them to our workshops, public hearings or programs to creatively exchange, interchange opinions, commitments and experiences. This will serve as a positive launch pad in cross examining ideas on migration, conflict, disease, hunger, corruption, unemployment, gender and good governance.
By discussing on the most intimate issues of youth interest with our elected representatives, we are actually tapping into the political will best suited to find a solution to our problems. Through this kind of politically joint effort there is great possibility that our actions and advocacy would lead to tangible results.
Awareness Building and Empowerment
For the youth front on youth migration to be strong, we must communicate our opinions, strategies and actions in a very wide, logical and clear way. We have to first of all identify what we need as instruments for an accurate communication of our ideas on the subject. In respect to youth empowerment, YCSO have to set up a strategy whereby they will be able to;
; Mobilize the voice of the ordinary youth to the course
; Ensure the participation of all stakeholders according to their individual measure
(children and youth category) in youth migration designed programs and projects
; Promote pluralism and gender equality in youth entrepreneurial skill development
; Maximum sensitization and use of information technology, in both information
accumulation and dissemination (networking, capacity building and partnership).
The above key elements are very important considering that a global awareness and
wide public consensus are cardinal for any successful proactive youth program.
Implying therefore the need for a new discourse on youth migration within YCSO
community; with thematic concerns such as trafficking, migrant rights, remittances,
brain drain and body shopping featuring on major discussion boards.
In this connection YCSO have to be organized at all levels considering that it is
public opinion expressed through organized civil society that holds governments
Global Youth Coalition On Migration
A Global Youth Coalition on Migration (GYCOM) should be set up for effective large scale, monitoring, reporting and organization of youths by youth on Migration. The kind of coalition that can make a consistent difference to public policy, and affect a large population of youths. GYCOM can play an important role in the following ways but not limited to:
To incorporate youths in the program of the coalition as active monitors, reporters and trainers on trafficking, migrant abuse and other elements of importance to the youth community. The peoples movement can be ensured via the establishment of youth monitoring bodies, involvement of professional legal bodies, organizations, surveys and the setting up of educational programs (call in radio shows etc).
Operating a GYCOM News glance
The news glance could serve as a valuable instrument in informing and exposing the community to local, domestic, national and international illegal human trafficking centers, abuse cases, illegal repulsion and other activities contrary to the sustainable well-being of youths.
Immunity to Youth Informants
Youths who inform and give evidence to the coalition should be guaranteed protection. Not living out the right to information and access to relevant documents on Youth migration related policies. This will enable GYCOM to be sufficiently empowered with information related to migration. For the activities of the coalition to be realized, international donor institutions have an active ro9le to play in providing resources that will assist in mobilizing youths on varied programs of the coalition.
WHAT STAKES FOR THE DIASPORA?