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Migrants as heroes of development Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by MICHAEL, Ghana Dec 21, 2007
Culture , Human Rights , Globalization   Opinions
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Migrants as heroes of development December 18th has been recognized by the international community as International Migrants’ Day. In some countries, this day is used to pay tribute to the contributions of migrants to the development of their host countries and to their countries of origin, further creating room for discussion on issues that surround migration and development.

The overwhelming motivation for millions of migrants is the hope of finding suitable employment, improving their own lives and the lives of their families. Migration is also a frequent response to situations where livelihoods are threatened by insecurity, institutional weakness, ethnic and religious discrimination and repeated disasters.

Over the last 25 years, the number of international migrants has doubled, bringing both challenges and opportunities for their host and home countries. International migrants numbered 191 million in 2005; 115 million lived in developed countries and 75 million in developing countries.

Ghanaian emigration has developed from a period of economic crisis in the country, occurring from the 1960s to the early 1990s, and has continued as the economy has started to recover (Van Hear, 1998). Although net emigration rates from Ghana are rather low in comparison with other countries in the region (Zlotnik, 1999) – partly as a result of both immigration from neighboring states and the return of around a million Ghanaian nationals from Nigeria following their expulsion in 1983 (Brydon, 1985) – as many as 10- 20 per cent of Ghanaian nationals were nonetheless living abroad in the 1980s and early 1990s (Pell, 1995).

Relevant statistics suggest that young people under age 30 today compose the largest group of international migrants (32-39 million). However, young people continue to remain invisible and neglected in this phenomenon, despite the multidimensional impact of migration on young people. Youth migration, in particular, has become the subject of great controversy. On the one hand, there is concern over the apparent ‘brain drain’ in the developing world, as well-educated young people leave their home countries, attracted by improved educational and career prospects in the West. However, according to a recent UNICEF report, while “children and young people are big stakeholders, little attention has been given to young people in the international debate on migration.”

International migration has enormous economic, social, and cultural implications in both origin and destination countries. As per a report of the Global Commission on International Migration and Development by the former UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, “Migration in the context of globalization has not only created challenges and opportunities for societies throughout the world; it has also underscored the ‘clear linkage between migration and development, as well as the opportunities for co-development.” The report further emphasizes that international migration should be an integral part of the national, regional, and global strategies for economic growth, in both the developing and developed world. It highlights the role of migrants and Diaspora associations in making financial and other investments in their homeland, thereby strengthening the economy, serving as conduits for new ideas, and enriching the understanding between both countries of origin and countries of destination.

Remittances, money that migrants earn abroad and send home, are a potentially significant force for poverty reduction. Recorded monies sent home by migrants from developing countries are estimated to be $206 billion in 2006. Unrecorded flows can add another 50 percent to this monetary amount. President John Agyekum Kufuor has acknowledged the significant contributions Ghanaians abroad are making towards the sustenance of the national economy through their remittances, which were estimated to have hit an all-time record of 7- 8 billion dollars at the end of 2006. The importance of migrants’ remittances in Ghana is demonstrated by the rapid increase and proliferation of money transfer institutions in the country.

In recent times, there has been an increasing concern over migration, remittances and development in Ghana. The recently cabinet-approved Migration Unit to be set up by the Ministry of the Interior to develop a migration policy framework is a clear indicator of this concern. The country has suffered especially from the brain drain in the health and education sectors. Migration is considered an integral part of livelihood strategies for most families and people in Ghana, yet information on migration flows are poor and unreliable. Knowledge of both the scale and the characteristics of migration are low.

It is argued that international migration, supported by the right policies, can be highly beneficial for the development of both host and sending countries. But it must be realized that these benefits are contingent upon the rights of migrants being respected and upheld. Many international migrants have had their rights abused. Usually, it is the unskilled and those without proper documents who suffer abuse while trying to remain calm for fear of being caught and deported at the least outcry or complaint.

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Writer Profile

Michael Baompong is the Founder and Executive Director of Young People We Care (YPWC). He has recently completed a four-year undergraduate degree at the University of Cape Coast, where he read Economics and Geography as his major courses. Michael graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences He is an ardent believer in youth empowerment and believes that if the youth are not empowered now, the world’s future will be nothing to write home about.
He participated in the recently-held Civil Society Day of the Global Forum on Migration and Development in the Philippines where he made a strong case for youth migration.
In September 2008, he successfully managed a joint initiative that was undertaken by YPWC with support from UNICEF Voices of Youth, Global Youth Action Network, Migrants Rights International and TakingITGlobal for the creation and publication of some key youth statements for the Global Forum on Migration and Development in the Philippines.
He was nominated in 2006 by the Task Force Committee of the UN-Non Governmental Liaison service to present a paper on Migration and Development at the UN Headquarters in New York. Michael was also a youth delegate to the 2007 Global Forum on Migration and Development and also the Regional Consultation on Migration, Remittances and Development in Africa.
Aside the numerous contributions that he makes on youth and development issues on networks like TakingITGlobal he also has a research work findings on International Migration and Remittances to his credit.
Michael is currently an Advisory Board member of the Bangladesh Youth Parliament, and was also a contributor and editorial member of the young people version of the UN Human Development Report for 2006 and 2007.
His desire to see to the well being of the youth in the world, which has been given a major boost by the introduction of the Millennium Development Goals, continues to spur him on to greater heights as he renders unconditional services to humanity aimed at making the world a better place for all.
After successfully completing an E-course in Project Management and Grant/Proposal Writing, his organizational abilities have been enhanced. In his own words, ‘I have been able to organize a series of programs on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and the Millennium Development Goals, thanks to the knowledge I acquired from the course’. He has his eyes on being a Migration Expert.

Great Work
DAKE KOFI SELORM | Jan 13th, 2008
This is a good piece of writing. I like the use of facts and figures to make the article authentic and convinving.

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