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Why Do People Migrate? Part 1: Facts

Chapters 2 › Unit 2: SCROLL DOWN FOR INSTRUCTIONS View instructions Hide instructions

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`Start by reading this article and discuss in your journal how current official definitions of "migrants", "refugees" and "asylum seekers" are challenged by the on-going migration crisis at the South-East borders of Europe.

You can also see Unit 2.1 for more information about irregular migration in Mediterranean region, Unit 2.2 about EU norms on asylum seeking, and Unit 2.3 on the case of Syrian refugees.

Don't forget to have a look to what others have done in their journals!

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2 comments

Words matter. So do the definitions. The general lack of knowledge about the proper terms as well as common misunderstandings are far too often misleading the public opinion and fuelling stereotypes and prejudices.
Nonetheless, acknowledging the complexity of the current situation, I wonder if the definitions of Refugee spelt out by the Geneva Convention (1951) - or even the broader concepts used in the more “modern” Organization of African Unity Convention (1969) or the Cartagena Declaration (1984)- are really enough to cover the rights of all the people on the move?
Leaving a country because there are not real possibilities to find a decent job, is it not already a form of “forced migration”? Aren’t economic migrants and asylum seekers both “political migrants”, because of the political decisions of whom have –and want to keep- the power?
Shouldn’t the states rely on basic principles like “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” (UDHR Art.13) ?

Comments

about 1 year ago

I totally agree with your point of view.
Thanks for sharing it!

about 1 year ago

Leaving a country because there are not real possibilities to find a
decent job, is it not already a form of “forced migration”? Aren’t
economic migrants and asylum seekers both “political migrants”,
because of the political decisions of whom have –and want to keep- the
power?

I share these sentiments. I have run across online articles here and there claiming that Ethiopian migrants are "merely" economic migrants, that there is no real threat in their country from which they should need protection.

However, I had the opportunity to speak to Ethiopian refugees in the Jungle camp in Calais, and while, yes, their concerns seemed to stem from the economic. The situation was much more complex than that. Ethiopian refugees seem to be in agreement that their government favors people living in the capital of their country. In the capital, opportunities exist for people. Elsewhere, however, people starve.

One person in particular, shared much more with me. He was a (young) man, 24 years of age (younger than myself, which was heartbreaking). He shared that he was an engineering student at university before fleeing, and his passion for science was clear. However, during his time at university, there were many peaceful demonstrations demanding the government offer work to those with university degrees. Apparently, these opportunities were hard to come by (especially outside of the capital). This made degrees useless and left capable individuals under-stimulated and frustrated. Of course, beyond this issue, is that people could forget about hoping to feed their families or having promise of a successful future despite having an education.

Unfortunately, however, demands were met by force from the government and the military. As many refugees do, this young man held onto a cell phone throughout his journey. On that phone were photos of his university taken over with military tanks and personnel. There were images of people beaten, hung, and shot to death, military officials standing close by. The young men in the photos were killed for taking part in the demonstrations, he explained. He, on the other hand, was imprisoned and tortured.

Of course, I cannot confirm his story myself or the photos that I saw. However, it was enough to leave me concerned that these people were not only facing economic hardship, but also human rights abuses and unjust treatment by their government, in which case they could certainly be considered as refugees with a "well-founded fear of being persecuted."

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