| Migration is currently at the center of debates between the mainly poor sending countries and the richer receiving nations. While the industrialized countries are promoting easier flows of capital, goods and services, they are at the same time restricting the movement of labour, which comes mainly from developing countries. A plethora of agreements, commitments, conventions and declarations guide international migration. Recently, in the UN Millennium Declaration, (Section V. Human Rights, democracy and good governance), UN member States resolved “to take measures to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of migrants, migrant workers and their families, to eliminate the increasing acts of racism and xenophobia in many societies and to protect harmony and tolerance in societies.
Also, in its resolution 58/208 of 23 December 2003, the general Assembly dedicate to devote a high level dialogue to international migration and development during its sixty-first session in 2006. the purpose of this dialogue is to discuss the multidimensional aspects of international migration and development in order to identify appropriate ways and means of maximizing its development benefits and minimizing is negative impacts. It is also expected to strongly focus on policy issues, including the challenge of achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Accordingly, the high-level dialogue takes place on 14 and 15 September 2006 in New York at the UN Headquarters.
Africa international migration involves a wide range of voluntary and forced-border movements within the continent, as well as regular and irregular migration to destinations outside the continent as forced migration plays a significant part.
Based on available knowledge, African nations already struggling to provide for their own populations, were habouring about one-third (three million) of the world’s refugees at he end of 2005. International migration impacts development in Africa in a wide range of ways such as loss of human capital, but also remittances and the acquisition of skills. A key challenge for African states who already face serious human resource shortages is skills migration or ‘brain drain’. The African human resource pool is continuously depleted as the educated choose to emigrate and apply their skills abroad.
In the case of the health sector, where African countries are facing increasing demand as a result of HIV/AIDS and other diseases, several countries experience a net depletion of their health work force. For example, more than 4,926 Nigerian doctors practice in the OECD alone, representing a high percentage of doctors needed back in Nigeria.
The response of most African governments to migration has been very limited and fragmentary, as few have implemented international conventions and related policies on migration. However, international migration is increasingly gaining the attention of African leaders. In this regard, the African Union (AU) has put in place a policy framework to stem the brain drain through the creation of employment opportunities, and to mobilize the African Diaspora for the development of their countries.
Globally, there are about 9 million refugees under the mandate of UNHCR, and an additional 4 million under the mandate of UNRWA (UN 2006). Forced migration is an important component of international migration in Africa. Various factors such as conflicts, natural disasters, such as drought and famines, have all forced people to flee their communities and countries for “greener pastures”. However, these conflicts force people away from their homes and across borders in search of refuge.
Environmental factors also force people to migrate. In sub-Saharan Africa, almost two-thirds of the population lives in ecological vulnerable areas. Current land degradation, freshwater mismanagement, pollution, biodiversity loss and natural disaster, all force people to migrate. The poor are especially vulnerable to degradation of natural resources, as this group will have fewer resources to withstand shocks caused by environmental changes and diseases related to the state of the environment (UNEP 2002).
Migration also takes a gender outlook in Africa when female migrants who are no longer following their husbands migrate independently. A significant proportion of contemporary African female migrants are blue-collar workers (housemaids, factory workers, etc.). Most of them tend to fill low-end jobs and are extremely vulnerable to physical, psychological and sexual abuse, as well as non-payment or underpayment of wages.
In an increasingly globalized world, the way forward to managing migration for increased benefits of sending and receiving countries, and of migrants and their families can not be overemphasized. Promoting the ratification of international conventions and protocols and aligning national policies to such international obligations is required for a quick start. Also, there is need to promote advocacy and awareness creation especially in the receiving countries and highlighting the positive contributions of migrants to sending and receiving countries.
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Henry Ekwuruke is Executive Director of the Development Generation Africa International.
Africa and International Migration Norma
| Mar 25th, 2007
Good article. Only one reservation:African leaders are the biggest contributors to this migrant crisis due to lack of a pragmatic approach to the concrete issues requiring their leadership; this lack manifests in extreme poverty, diseases (due to underlying malnutrition in the population) and insecurity. AU should question the relevant policies that make the continent a net exporter of raw materials, expert manpower, and capital, while facilitating the dumping of finished goods.
umeche, chinedum ikenna
| Apr 20th, 2007
an incisive piece of work!!
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