Inter Press ServiceMigration & Refugees – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Thu, 17 Jan 2019 16:51:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.8 Experience With Irregular Migration is the Best Teacherhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/experience-irregular-migration-best-teacher/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=experience-irregular-migration-best-teacher http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/experience-irregular-migration-best-teacher/#respond Thu, 17 Jan 2019 10:41:04 +0000 Sam Olukoya http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159675 The International Organization For Migration (IOM) has taken its campaign against irregular migration to schools in Nigeria. The school campaigns are meant to educate children who are among victims of human traffickers. After being recruited, victims of traffickers are made to embark on dangerous irregular journeys through the desert and by sea in an attempt […]

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Students of the Itohan Girls Secondary School in Benin City, Nigeria sing during their morning assembly. Courtesy: Sam Olukoya

By Sam Olukoya
BENIN CITY, Nigeria, Jan 17 2019 (IPS)

The International Organization For Migration (IOM) has taken its campaign against irregular migration to schools in Nigeria. The school campaigns are meant to educate children who are among victims of human traffickers. After being recruited, victims of traffickers are made to embark on dangerous irregular journeys through the desert and by sea in an attempt to reach Europe. Many children die in the course of these journeys while many others are enslaved. Some young girls end up in the sex trade.

Students of the Itohan Girls Secondary School in Benin City, Nigeria sing during their morning assembly. The students have been joined by a team from the IOM and a group of young Nigerians who returned home after their failed attempt to migrate to Europe. With young girls at great risk of being targeted by traffickers who need them for the sex trade, Marshall Patsanza of the IOM says a girls’ school like this is an ideal place for the organization to carry out its campaign.

 

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Why We Should Care about Vulnerable Coastal Communitieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/care-vulnerable-coastal-communities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=care-vulnerable-coastal-communities http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/care-vulnerable-coastal-communities/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2019 11:47:24 +0000 Nigel Brett http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159661 Nigel Brett is Director of the Asia and Pacific Division at the International Fund for Agricultural Development

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Meity Masipuang is a member of an enterprise group in Papusungan village, Lembeh island, Indonesia. Their women’s group purchases fish to smoke and resell. They are participants of the IFAD-funded Coastal Community Development project in Indonesia. Credit: IFAD/Roger Arnold

By Nigel Brett
ROME, Jan 16 2019 (IPS)

According to UN statistics, approximately 40 per cent of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast, and overall the world’s coastal population is increasing faster than the total global population. At the same time, global warming is causing sea levels to rise and increasing extreme weather incidents on coastlines.

The impacts are well publicized and alarming. But what we may not realize is that the people who are the most vulnerable to climate change are often the poorest. It is essential that we act upon what we know in order to mitigate the effects of climate change and build resilience in the poorest communities. In all of our development work, we cannot regard climate change and the plight of vulnerable coastal communities as a niche issue.

A large portion of the world’s poor people live in Asia and the Pacific: 347 million people in the region live on less than US$1.90 a day, almost half of the 736 million people living in extreme poverty worldwide. Rising sea level exposes large areas of Asia and the Pacific to potential floods, coastline damage and increased salinity of agricultural lands. Climate change and environmental degradation (including in small island developing states, or SIDS) is harming the poor rural population’s ability to produce food and income, which calls for urgent action to help people safeguard their assets and fragile resources, while also diversifying their income base.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works with people in vulnerable coastal communities across the world to build resilience and institute sustainable agricultural practices so that vulnerable people can make a living while also preserving the environment and the resources that are the foundation of their way of life.

Nigel Brett Credit: IFAD/Flavio Ianniello

Some livelihood practices are not sustainable and can exacerbate climatic vulnerability. For example, unsustainable fishing destroys corals and depletes fish stocks, and the cutting down of mangroves for firewood results in coastal land that cannot resist flooding, cyclones and coastal erosion. Since 66 per cent of the fish that is eaten worldwide is caught by small-scale fishers, it is in everybody’s best interest to help them to improve their ability to make a living while protecting the environment.

In over 180 villages in Indonesia, the IFAD-supported Coastal Community Development Project introduced aquaculture and supported initiatives to make fishing and processing techniques more efficient and sustainable. By providing rudimentary refrigeration techniques such as ice coolers, and by forming and training women’s groups to process some of the fish into fish paste and dried fish snacks, fishermen were able to fish less because they did not have to factor in the amount of fish wasted by lack of refrigeration or low market demand. These measures also had a substantial impact on food security and actually reduced acute child malnutrition in the areas by half. And through community-based coastal resource management groups, marine resources have been maintained or improved.

In the Asia and the Pacific region overall, vulnerable communities are a prominent focus of our investment portfolio. Just under one third of our current $2.7 billion portfolio in the region is invested in improving the lives of 15,360,000 poor rural people living within five kilometers of the coastline.

One thing we’ve learned is that there is no such thing as a one-size fits all approach in working with vulnerable coastal communities. Context matters. Bangladesh suffers from overcrowding on its limited land, while the Pacific Islands suffer from not only extreme weather but a remote and dwindling population. In Tonga the rural population is declining due to migration and a lack of incentives for youth to remain. It is also classified as the second most at-risk country in the world in terms of its exposure and susceptibility to natural hazards and the effects of climate change. Development approaches need to be different.

Up to 80 million people live in flood-prone or drought-prone areas in Bangladesh, and thousands of vulnerable families eke out a living on river islands known as chars. The Char Development and Settlement Project has developed roads that remain intact even after they have been repeatedly submerged in water. It has also helped communities (especially women) to develop small businesses that can withstand floods, such as raising ducks. But, one of the most important aspects of the project’s work is land titling—which is particularly important for women. With land as collateral, women can access credit and acquire labour-saving machinery, including small irrigation pumps and rice threshers, and build small storage sheds to protect harvested rice from rain and floods.

In Tonga, we are helping communities to develop high-value crops that can be exported in order to boost the rural export market. The project is also planting tree species that can protect the coastline from tornados and cyclones. The project is working with communities to identify where improved infrastructure is needed (such as weather-resistant roads and waterfronts), and get them directly involved in investing in and supervising construction and maintenance.

After 40 years of working with poor rural people around the world, IFAD has learned that no one can hope to face these challenges alone. In a rapidly changing world we need to work together to channel support where it is most needed. Rural transformation can increase production and incomes, reduce hunger, and at the same time protect natural resources. With the right support, vulnerable coastal communities can play a part in securing a sustainable future.

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Excerpt:

Nigel Brett is Director of the Asia and Pacific Division at the International Fund for Agricultural Development

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Honduran Crisis Produces New Caravanhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/honduran-crisis-produces-new-caravan/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=honduran-crisis-produces-new-caravan http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/honduran-crisis-produces-new-caravan/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2019 10:34:52 +0000 Jan Egeland http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159650 Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), visited Honduras in December 2018.

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The first caravan of Central American migrants reached the town of Matías Romero in Oaxaca state on November 1, 2018. The Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs estimates that 4,000 people spent the night there. Credit: IOM / Rafael Rodríguez

By Jan Egeland
OSLO, Norway, Jan 16 2019 (IPS)

A new caravan heading towards Mexico and the United States was reportedly set to leave San Pedro Sula in Honduras on 15 January. The large number of people expected to leave Central America is a true testimony to the desperate situation for children, women and men in this poor and violence affected region.

Instead of talking about a crisis at the US-Mexican border, North Americans must wake up and address the real humanitarian crisis in Central America. The long walk north will be extremely dangerous and exhausting for the thousands of families from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala that will join the caravans planned in 2019.

Obstacles on the way are likely to increase, as there is fatigue and frustration from communities who supported migrants during last year’s exodus. There is rising xenophobia in both the United States (US) and Mexico and increasingly tough border regulations in every country on the way.

Border controls, guards or walls will never stop people who are hunted by gang violence and flee for fear for their lives. Youth who have lost all hope for a better future in Central America will try repeatedly to reach a better life in the US, Canada or Mexico.

To tackle the current crisis, the more affluent American nations need to understand their own neighborhood and invest much more in bringing hope, security and good governance for people who currently see no other option than to flee.

Having spoken to many desperate Honduran families who have been or will be on the caravans, I am convinced that the current policies from the US through Mexico and Central America will only deepen the crisis, the desperation and the exodus. Investment in education, livelihoods and violence prevention are better alternatives to detention and deportation back to places where there is only misery and violence.

Hondurans who have managed to reach Mexico during previous journeys have told NRC staff that they were held in shelters, forced to sign deportation papers and deported without a fair hearing of their asylum claims. In spite of the hardships and the dangers many are still planning on leaving again even though they know of the slim chances of reaching the US.

“Dying here or dying there, it doesn’t make much difference. At least there I have a small chance to see that my life improves,” said one person who is planning to leave again for the north with the caravan.

If a gang is extorting you, if you are a witness to a crime or if your neighborhood is taken over by organized crime you may have no other option than to flee. People will only stay if they are protected from violence, lawlessness and crime and provided with education and livelihood opportunities.

Thousands of people remain stranded and blocked on the border between Mexico and the US where processing is extremely slow. The US and Mexico recently signed the agreement ‘Remain in Mexico’ in which the US will be able to send people back to Mexico while they go through the refugee status determination process.

This process can take years due to a backlog in the system. The agreement comes on top of President Trump’s attempts to build a wall, migrant children dying in US custody and last summer’s family separations crisis. 75,279 people were deported from Mexico and the US in 2018, according to a Honduran centre for migration: Observatorio Consular y Migratorio de Honduras (CONMIGHO).

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Excerpt:

Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), visited Honduras in December 2018.

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Walking Miles In Their Shoeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/walking-miles-shoes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=walking-miles-shoes http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/walking-miles-shoes/#respond Thu, 10 Jan 2019 09:42:23 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159574 In light of the millions of refugees escaping persecution in search of a safer, more prosperous future, a new campaign aims to raise awareness of the difficult journeys such populations take around the world. Launched by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety raises awareness of the long, precarious journeys […]

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A Rohingya couple, Mohammad Faisal and his wife Hajera, pose for a photo with their child at their camp at Teknaf Nature's Park, Bangladesh. Some refugees had to walk 60 miles on foot to reach the safety of Bangladesh Credit: Farid Ahmed/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 10 2019 (IPS)

In light of the millions of refugees escaping persecution in search of a safer, more prosperous future, a new campaign aims to raise awareness of the difficult journeys such populations take around the world.

Launched by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety raises awareness of the long, precarious journeys that many refugees take and calls on the public to amp up support.

“Every day, we are inspired by the acts of kindness from people who are doing their very best to improve life for refugees: the activists, the communities hosting refugees, businesses, donors, volunteers,’” said UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Kelly T. Clements.

“This campaign will encourage people to support refugees through something they are already doing – walking, cycling, running,” she added.

According to UNHCR, people who are forced to flee travel approximately 2 billion km every year to reach the first point of safety.

In 2016, South Sudanese refugees travelled over 400 miles to reach Kenya while Rohingya refugees in Myanmar travelled up to 50 miles in search of safety in Bangladesh.

Later aided by the U.N. agency, Alin Nisa and her family were forced to flee from Myanmar to Bangladesh after an armed group attacked the village and abducted community members.

Crossing mountains and rivers, Nisa carried her two young children while her husband carried his mother who could not walk.

They travelled 60 miles on foot, finally reaching the Kutupalong refugee settlement in Bangladesh.

Similarly, Zeenab and her family fled Syria after their home was destroyed and travelled over 90 miles to Jordan’s za’atari refugee camp.

“We’re grateful. Winter here is difficult, but it’s still better than Syria,” she told UNHCR.

And how better to understand refugees’ plight than actually walking in their shoes and covering the same distance?

Clements highlighted the importance of remembering refugees’ very real and dangerous journeys, especially as misconceptions continue to be spread about them.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoed similar sentiments upon the adoption of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) in December, stating: “There are many falsehoods about the world’s migrants. But we must not succumb to fear or false narratives. We must move from myth to reality.”

Such narratives have been most apparent in the United States which has seemingly shut the door on refugees.

The Trump administration first implemented a 120-day refugee ban, followed by a ban on refugees from “high-risk” countries including South Sudan and Syria.

In January 2017, the U.S. government cut the refugee quota by more than half, which led to only 22,000 refugees being resettled in the country in 2018, the lowest rate since 1980.

Most recently, the administration has deployed troops at the U.S.’ southern border in an effort to prevent refugees and migrants who have travelled across Central America from entering the country or seeking asylum.

Anti-refugee rhetoric has also been on the rise in Europe, including Belgium which has seen violent riots against the country’s participation in the GCM.

People across 27 countries will take part in the 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign, and UNHCR hopes to raise over 15 million dollars to support refugees with registration, food, water, shelter, and healthcare.

UNHCR’s funding requirements for 2019 amount to a record 8.5 billion dollars and has thus far received 926 million dollars in pledges.

Though the GCM is a stepping stone towards awareness and action, there is still much left to do.

U.N. Special Representative for International Migration Louise Arbour expressed such views in her closing remarks at the GCM conference, stating: “To the millions who have left their homeland, either recently or a long time ago, most of them in full compliance with the law, we have much more to offer: whether an opportunity to return home, after years abroad, taking back with them their skills and the fruits of their labour, or whether an increased chance to see their children having a better future in a country that they will be proud to call their home.”

Globally, over 68 million have been forcibly displaced. Of this, 25 million are refugees, a figure that has increased by almost 3 million within just one year.

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The Rohingya – The Forgotten Genocide of Our Timehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/the-rohingya-the-forgotten-genocide-of-our-time/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-rohingya-the-forgotten-genocide-of-our-time http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/the-rohingya-the-forgotten-genocide-of-our-time/#respond Wed, 09 Jan 2019 12:56:44 +0000 Leila Yasmine Khan and Daud Khan http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159560 The Rohingya are a minority community living in Rakhine State in Myanmar. The Muslim Rohingya are considered intruders into Buddhist Myanmar – illegal immigrants from bordering Bangladesh. They have been always discriminated against, looked down upon, ostracized, and denied any civil and judicial rights. In August of 2017, a small group of Rohingya militants launched […]

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A Rohingya girl goes to fetch water in Balukhali camp, Bangladesh. Credit: Umer Aiman Khan/IPS

A Rohingya girl goes to fetch water in Balukhali camp, Bangladesh. Credit: Umer Aiman Khan/IPS

By Leila Yasmine Khan and Daud Khan
AMSTERDAM/ROME, Jan 9 2019 (IPS)

The Rohingya are a minority community living in Rakhine State in Myanmar. The Muslim Rohingya are considered intruders into Buddhist Myanmar – illegal immigrants from bordering Bangladesh. They have been always discriminated against, looked down upon, ostracized, and denied any civil and judicial rights.

In August of 2017, a small group of Rohingya militants launched an attack against local police forces. This incident triggered the worst ever reaction against the Rohingya in which the local non-Rohingya population, Buddhist monks and the local police participated.

The official security forces then took over and undertook mass killings, abuses and abductions. Most of the Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh where about 900,000 refugees now live in camps where they receive essential assistance and basic medical care.  Efforts are being made to negotiate their return to Myanmar but these appear to have little chance of success.

The violence towards the Rohingya, and their displacement from their homes and villages, is likely to wipe out their traditions, culture and lifestyle as well as their mental and cultural constructs. This combination of physical and psychological violence is likely to lead to the elimination of the Rohingya’s identity.

These acts against the Rohingya constitute genocide as set out in the Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide passed by the United Nations in 1948 – which define genocide as actions taken to “destroy, in whole and in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”.

The violence towards the Rohingya, and their displacement from their homes and villages, is likely to wipe out their traditions, culture and lifestyle as well as their mental and cultural constructs. This combination of physical and psychological violence is likely to lead to the elimination of the Rohingya’s identity.

The Rohingya Crisis has been subject to attention at international level; the international press has given the matter considerable coverage; and the UN Human Rights Council has recommended that the commanders responsible for the violence be brought to trial.

However, much more needs to be done given the number of people affected, the fact that the Rohingya, always a poor and vulnerable group, are being pushed into inhuman suffering; and that the brunt of refugee burden is being borne by a single country (Bangladesh).

Logistic and financial help is needed to address immediate needs, and political and diplomatic pressure is needed to help the Rohingya to return to their homes and to bring to justice those responsible for criminal acts.

This relative lack of attention reflects different factors in developed and developing countries. The rich countries, particularly the USA and European countries, are currently grappling with their own immigration and refugee crisis which largely emanates from problems in the Middle East, Africa and Central America.

Among the increasingly sovereignist governments in many countries, there is a limited appetite for addressing crisis that do not directly affect their economic or social interests. Another possible factor is that the Rohingya crisis, which involves Buddhists as oppressors and Muslims as victims, does not fit well with the current dominant narrative where Muslim fundamentalists are the root cause of terror and violence in the world and provide the political justification for repressive laws and large spending on security and on the military.

Given the lack of interest by the developed world, much responsibility falls on developing countries, especially large neighbors such as China, India, Pakistan and Thailand. These countries should be helping Bangladesh cope with the economic burden of dealing with the refugees and pressurizing Myanmar to take back the Rohingya, grant them civil rights and bring press charges against those that have committed crimes and atrocities.

However, little is being done and this reflects a misguided sense of solidarity among developing countries which results in a reluctance to criticize each other on human rights matters. This is unfortunate.

Bangladesh and its neighbors have experienced rapid economic growth that has raised average incomes and reduced poverty.  However, development is about much more than just increased economic wellbeing. It is also about upholding values, allowing citizens to lead dignified lives free from arbitrary violence, and having access to speedy and reliable justice systems.  This needs to be done domestically and internationally.

Some progress has been made on the domestic front. In India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the judiciary has taken the lead in establishing religious, personal or political rights. Recently high profile judgements by Supreme Courts in these countries include the case of Asia Bibi – a Christian lady accused of blasphemy in Pakistan where the Supreme Court threw out the baseless allegations against her; the ruling by the Supreme Court in India that stated that discrimination on the basis on sexual orientation was against the Constitution and those that felt discrimination could seek redress from a court of law; and the ruling by the Supreme Court in Sri Lanka against the recent constitutional coup and the dissolving of parliament.

In other countries, such as China and Viet Nam, social media activists are taking the lead on rights and justice issues addressing issues such as corruption, cronyism and human rights abuses.

These steps are excellent and timely.  However, there is a moral void in the global system with the traditional upholders of the rule-based international order – particularly northern Europe and the USA- taking a less proactive role.

The most glaring recent example relates to the limited political and economic fallout of the Kashoggi murder. As developing countries, especially in Asia, account for an increasing share of global GDP, they should also take up an increasing share of the task of creating a better and more just world.

Given the nature of what needs to be done, NGOs, social media or the national judicial systems which have played a critical role in the domestic sphere, cannot take the lead. The responsibility for this falls squarely on the shoulders of Governments – they must not fail.

Leila Yasmine Khan is an independent writer and journalist based in the Netherlands. She has Master’s Degrees in Philosophy and in Argumentation and Rhetoric from the University of Amsterdam; and a Degree in Philosophy from the University of Rome (Roma Tre).

Daud Khan has more than 30 years of experience on development issues with various national and international organizations. He has degrees in economics from the LSE and Oxford; and a degree in Environmental Management from the Imperial College of Science and Technology.  

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Getting to the Heart of Irregular Migration in Nigeria’s Marketshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/getting-heart-irregular-migration-nigerias-markets/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=getting-heart-irregular-migration-nigerias-markets http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/getting-heart-irregular-migration-nigerias-markets/#respond Tue, 08 Jan 2019 08:33:43 +0000 Sam Olukoya http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159532 Thousands of migrants mainly from Sub-Saharan Africa have died or ended up in slavery as they attempt to travel to Europe irregularly through the desert and across the sea. Many were recruited by traffickers who deceived them into believing that the passage to Europe would be safe and easy. The International Organization for Migration, IOM, […]

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Returnee migrants volunteering for the International Migration Organisation (IOM) are campaigning in Nigerian markets against irregular migration by sharing their own stories of strife. Credit: Sam Olukoya/IPS

By Sam Olukoya
BENIN CITY, Nigeria, Jan 8 2019 (IPS)

Thousands of migrants mainly from Sub-Saharan Africa have died or ended up in slavery as they attempt to travel to Europe irregularly through the desert and across the sea. Many were recruited by traffickers who deceived them into believing that the passage to Europe would be safe and easy.

The International Organization for Migration, IOM, has embarked on a peer-to-peer campaign aimed at letting vulnerable people know the real dangers.

Migrants who returned home after their failed attempt to reach Europe have been engaged volunteers to tell their harrowing stories in markets and other public places in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

The voice from the Public Address system urges people to travel the right way and not to kill themselves with the dangerous journey through the desert and sea. Messages like this were spread within some Lagos markets by returning migrants.

 

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Climate Change Forces Central American Farmers to Migratehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/climate-change-forces-central-american-farmers-migrate/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-change-forces-central-american-farmers-migrate http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/climate-change-forces-central-american-farmers-migrate/#respond Wed, 02 Jan 2019 20:02:38 +0000 Edgardo Ayala http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159467 As he milks his cow, Salvadoran Gilberto Gomez laments that poor harvests, due to excessive rain or drought, practically forced his three children to leave the country and undertake the risky journey, as undocumented migrants, to the United States. Gómez, 67, lives in La Colmena, in the municipality of Candelaria de la Frontera, in the […]

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Gilberto Gómez stands next to the cow he bought with the support of his migrant children in the United States,which eases the impact of the loss of his subsistence crops, in the village of La Colmena, Candelaria de la Frontera municipality in western El Salvador. This area forms part of the Central American Dry Corridor, where increasing climate vulnerability is driving migration of the rural population. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Gilberto Gómez stands next to the cow he bought with the support of his migrant children in the United States,which eases the impact of the loss of his subsistence crops, in the village of La Colmena, Candelaria de la Frontera municipality in western El Salvador. This area forms part of the Central American Dry Corridor, where increasing climate vulnerability is driving migration of the rural population. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

By Edgardo Ayala
CANDELARIA DE LA FRONTERA, El Salvador, Jan 2 2019 (IPS)

As he milks his cow, Salvadoran Gilberto Gomez laments that poor harvests, due to excessive rain or drought, practically forced his three children to leave the country and undertake the risky journey, as undocumented migrants, to the United States.

Gómez, 67, lives in La Colmena, in the municipality of Candelaria de la Frontera, in the western Salvadoran department of Santa Ana.

The small hamlet is located in the so-called Dry Corridor of Central America, a vast area that crosses much of the isthmus, but whose extreme weather especially affects crops in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

“They became disillusioned, seeing that almost every year we lost a good part of our crops, and they decided they had to leave, because they didn’t see how they could build a future here,” Gómez told IPS, as he untied the cow’s hind legs after milking.

He said that his eldest son, Santos Giovanni, for example, also grew corn and beans on a plot of land the same size as his own, “but sometimes he didn’t get anything, either because it rained a lot, or because of drought.”

The year his children left, in 2015, Santos Giovanni lost two-thirds of the crop to an unusually extreme drought.

“It’s impossible to go on like this,” lamented Gómez, who says that of the 15 families in La Colmena, many have shrunk due to migration because of problems similar to those of his son.

The Dry Corridor, particularly in these three nations, has experienced the most severe droughts of the last 10 years, leaving more than 3.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned as early as 2016.

Now Gómez’s daughter, Ana Elsa, 28, and his two sons, Santos Giovanni, 31, and Luis Armando, 17, all live in Los Angeles, California.

“Sometimes they call us, and tell us they’re okay, that they have jobs,” he said.

The case of the Gómez family illustrates the phenomenon of migration and its link with climate change and its impact on harvests, and thus on food insecurity among Central American peasant families.

La Colmena, which lacks piped water and electricity, benefited a few years ago from a project to harvest rainwater, which villagers filter to drink, as well as reservoirs to water livestock.

However, their crops are still vulnerable to the onslaught of heavy rains and increasingly unpredictable and intense droughts.

Domitila Reyes pulls corn cobs from a plantation in Ciudad Romero, a rural settlement in the municipality of Jiquilisco, in eastern El Salvador. The production of basic grains such as corn and beans has been affected by climate change in large areas of the country. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Domitila Reyes pulls corn cobs from a plantation in Ciudad Romero, a rural settlement in the municipality of Jiquilisco, in eastern El Salvador. The production of basic grains such as corn and beans has been affected by climate change in large areas of the country. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

In addition to the violence and poverty, climate change is the third cause of the exodus of Central Americans, especially from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, according to the new Atlas of Migration in Northern Central America.

The report, released Dec. 12 by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and FAO, underscores that the majority of migrants from these three countries come from rural areas.

Between 2000 and 2012, the report says, there was an increase of nearly 59 percent in the number of people migrating from these three countries, which make up the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America. In Guatemala, 77 percent of the people living in rural areas are poor, and in Honduras the proportion is 82 percent.

In recent months, waves of citizens from Honduras and El Salvador have embarked on the long journey on foot to the United States, with the idea that it would be safer if they travelled in large groups.

Travelling as an undocumented migrant to the United States carries a series of risks: they can fall prey to criminal gangs, especially when crossing Mexico, or dieon the long treks through the desert.

Another report published by FAO in December, Mesoamerica in Transit, states that of the nearly 30 million international migrants from Latin America, some four million come from the Northern Triangle and another 11 million from Mexico.

The study adds that among the main factors driving migration in El Salvador are poverty in the departments of Ahuachapán, Cabañas, San Vicente and Sonsonate; environmental vulnerability in Chalatenango, Cuscatlán, La Libertad and San Salvador; and soaring violence in La Paz, Morazán and San Salvador.

And according to the report, Honduran migration is strongly linked to the lack of opportunities, and to high levels of poverty and violence in the northwest of the country and to environmental vulnerability in the center-south.

With respect to Guatemala, the report indicates that although in this country migration patterns are not so strongly linked to specific characteristics of different territories, migration is higher in municipalities where the percentage of the population without secondary education is larger.

In Mexico, migration is linked to poverty in the south and violence in the west, northwest and northeast, while environmental vulnerability problems seem to be cross-cutting.

“The report shows a compelling and comprehensive view of the phenomenon: the decision to migrate is the individual’s, but it is conditioned by their surroundings,” Luiz Carlos Beduschi, FAO Rural Development Officer, told IPS from Santiago, Chile, the U.N. organisation’s regional headquarters.

He added that understanding what is happening in the field is fundamental to understanding migratory dynamics as a whole.

The study, published Dec. 18, makes a “multicausal analysis; the decision to stay or migrate is conditioned by a set of factors, including climate, especially in the Dry Corridor of Central America,” Beduschi said.

For the FAO expert, it is necessary to promote policies that offer rural producers “better opportunities for them and their families in their places of origin.”

It is a question, he said, “of guaranteeing that they have the necessary conditions to freely decide whether to stay at home or to migrate elsewhere,” and keeping rural areas from expelling the local population as a result of poverty, violence, climate change and lack of opportunities.

In the case of El Salvador, while there is government awareness of the impacts of climate change on crops and the risk it poses to food security, little has been done to promote public policies to confront the phenomenon, activist Luis González told IPS.

“There are national plans and strategies to confront climate change, to address the water issue, among other questions, but the problem is implementation: it looks nice on paper, but little is done, and much of this is due to lack of resources,” added González, a member of the Roundtable for Food Sovereignty, a conglomerate of social organisations fighting for this objective.

Meanwhile, in La Colmena, Gómez has given his wife, Teodora, the fresh milk they will use to make cheese.

They are happy that they have the cow, bought with the money their daughter sent from Los Angeles, and they are hopeful that the weather won’t spoil the coming harvest.

“With this cheese we earn enough for a small meal,” he said.

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The Dark Shadows of Christmashttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/dark-shadows-christmas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dark-shadows-christmas http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/dark-shadows-christmas/#respond Mon, 24 Dec 2018 08:59:26 +0000 Jan Lundius http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159434 Christmas is expected to be a peaceful celebration of the birth of Jesus. A time to express love and care for one another. Jesus preached love and compassion, but also told us to be suspicious of imposters: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep´s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves”. Wolves […]

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By Jan Lundius
Stockholm/Rome, Dec 24 2018 (IPS)

Christmas is expected to be a peaceful celebration of the birth of Jesus. A time to express love and care for one another. Jesus preached love and compassion, but also told us to be suspicious of imposters: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep´s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves”. Wolves are predators who disregard the suffering of their victims. A human wolf is an egomaniac ready to maim and murder, either to please himself or his master, often deluding himself by imagining he serves a higher purpose.

On the 11th of December, armed with a revolver and a knife, a man attacked visitors to Strasbourg´s Christmas Market, killing five and wounding eleven. Likewise was on the 19th of December 2016 a truck deliberately driven into a traditional Christmas market in the very centre of Berlin, killing twelve and injuring fifty-six. After he had forced him to do the killing, the perpetrator shot the truck-driver. Maybe these killers were just lone wolves, but their acts proved that even during Christmas one has to be aware of false prophets preaching hate and violence.

The Bible proclaimed that Jesus Christ would bring peace and justice to the World and so did the Holy Qu´ran, for example in its third Surah:

    Remember when the angels said: ´O Mary, God gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name is Christ Jesus son of Mary, greatly honoured in this world and the next, and among those drawn nearest to God. He shall speak to mankind from the cradle, and in maturity, and shall be among the righteous.1

The Kings James Version of the Bible translates the god tidings of Jesus´s birth as: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” The villains in Strasbourg and Berlin were far from abiding to that message. As a matter of fact, even the story of Jesus´s birth constitutes a familiar tale of ruthless power abuse, persecution of the innocent and defenceless, as well as it tells us how migration becomes a last resort to avoid suffering and death.

Herod the Great (73 – 4 BCE2) was an energetic monarch, a shrewd manipulator investing in the winner of every Roman power struggle. He created a powerful secret police, torturing and killing countless opponents, among them forty-six members of the Sanhedrin, the highest political and religious body of the Jewish people. Lust for power, women and glory turned Herod into blood-thirsty despot. Fearing competition by his wife, he killed both her and their two sons, making the Roman Emperor Augustus joke that he would rather be Herod´s pig than his son (since Herod´s faith forbade him to eat pork). Judea was since 47 BCE a part of the Roman province of Syria. Herod was a Roman minion, with free reigns as long as he paid his levies.

This was the reason to why an aged carpenter named Joseph and his young wife, Maria, went from their hometown to Joseph´s place of birth, Bethlehem. For tax reasons, he had to register himself and his family there. After travelling for two days they reached their destination, but found that Bethlehem was filled with visitors and it was impossible to find lodging. To make matters worse, Maria went into labour and had to give birth to her son in a cave. Joseph had recently married Maria and by accepting her awaited child as his own he had saved her from shame and even lynching, this since the father of her child was unknown. Shortly after the delivery, the poor couple found shelter in a stable, where Mary placed her new-born son among the straw of a crib. Shepherds came to pay homage to the baby, assuming he was the Messiah, the future king so hotly longed for by many Jews. A presumption that seemed to be confirmed when a group of wealthy foreigners appeared, carrying gifts for the infant.

However, Joseph was through a dream told he had to flee the country. Herod had been reached by a rumour that a new-born child would become king and overthrow him. The power intoxicated despot ordered that all boys up to two years of age had to be slaughtered. As people often did in the past, Joseph took his dreams seriously. He convinced Mary that they had to seek protection and asylum in Egypt. It was the small, fugitive Syrian family´s luck that no Egyptian guards serving a chauvinist regime were blocking the border for refugees. If that had been the case, Jesus would have been killed and we would not have a Christianity, which some European nationalist rulers currently use as a reason to deny asylum for Syrian refugees.

When Herod ordered the murder of innocents in an effort to secure his power, or when two loners spread death and horror in Christmas markets, they did so in disregard of feelings of others, denying one of the essentials of human existence – communication, which comes from the Latin “to share”. They proved to be egomaniacs unable to appreciate the joy of sharing happiness with others, the message at the very heart of Christmas celebrations.

Since 2011, more than 5.6 million have fled Syria. 6.6 millions more are displaced inside the country, while 2.98 million are isolated in hard-to-reach areas. The war continues and hope is fading fast.3 In these days, while many of us are enjoying ourselves in the company of friends and family, sharing food and gifts, we might give some thoughts to those who like the infant Jesus and his parents are suffering poverty, persecution and fear of death.

1 The Qur´an. A new translation by Tarif Khaladi (2009) London: Penguin Classics.
2 Before Common Era. A dating system taking as departure the birth of Jesus was devised in 525 ABE. However, it was not consistent with probable dates for the birth of Jesus and not widely used until after 800 ABE.
3 https://www.unhcr.org/syria-emergency.html

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

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Human Trafficking – Hidden in Plain Sighthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/human-trafficking-hidden-plain-sight/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=human-trafficking-hidden-plain-sight http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/human-trafficking-hidden-plain-sight/#respond Fri, 21 Dec 2018 13:50:54 +0000 Romy Hawatt http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159417 The media globally tends to have a bias to negative, sensational and headline grabbing stories and events and this certainly applies to reporting related to human trafficking in the third world. With the abundance of stories around sweat shops, massage parlours and organ trafficking networks happening ‘somewhere else’, the West is generally desensitised, lacks empathy […]

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By Romy Hawatt
DUBAI, Dec 21 2018 (IPS)

The media globally tends to have a bias to negative, sensational and headline grabbing stories and events and this certainly applies to reporting related to human trafficking in the third world. With the abundance of stories around sweat shops, massage parlours and organ trafficking networks happening ‘somewhere else’, the West is generally desensitised, lacks empathy and fails to fully appreciate the scale of the problem which sits right under their noses and in plain sight.

Romy Hawatt

It is a fact that for a variety of reasons, this insidious trade tends to be more hidden away in the West whilst it is generally conducted more openly in developing countries.

“Human trafficking is a global problem, but it’s a local one too,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in 2018 when the U.S. State Department released its 2018 Trafficking in Persons report, which assesses countries around the world based on how their governments work to prevent and respond to trafficking. “Human trafficking can be found in a favourite restaurant, a hotel, downtown, a farm, or in their neighbour’s home.”

Estimates vary depending on the agency reporting and also depends on specific categorisations. The International Labour Organization for example, estimates 21 million people are affected by forced labour whereas other reputable agencies estimate up to 48 million men, women and children are enslaved and trafficked around the world today.

According to the International Labour Organization, 68 percent are exploited in industry sectors like agriculture, mining, construction and domestic work creating profits of $150 billion annually.

There is therefore a gigantic financial motive for the maintaining and the growing of this illicit trade which sadly ‘has always been the way of the world’. The ideal of unalienable rights and universal liberty is actually still a relatively new concept in the history of time.

The proposition is diabolically simple in that some human beings will take advantage of and exploit other vulnerable categories of human beings unless there is a strong disincentive and a massive change in the contributing circumstances.

Whatever the cause and whatever the thinking, modern day slavery and human and human organ trafficking is now far more prevalent in the developed world than either the public knows about or was previously thought. Sadder is the fact that even with the best intent matched with state of the art resources, even the best law enforcement agencies do not appear to be able to keep up with the growing size and scale of the problem.

Even in the U.K., which after all gave the world the Magna Carta in the 13th century, a turning point in establishing human rights and arguably the most significant early influence on the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law today in the English-speaking world, the numbers of people trafficked is estimated to number in the tens of thousands of victims, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

These victims in the UK are predominantly from places like Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, with a roughly equal balance between men and women in other than the sex industry in which women and girls make up the vast majority of those exploited.

There are also trafficked people of all genders working in more prosaic roles like car washes, construction, agriculture and food processing. They receive very little pay and are forced to put up with poor living conditions.

As a result, the NCA says, it is increasingly likely that someone going about their normal daily life in the U.K., engaging in the legitimate economy and accessing goods and services, will come across a victim who has been exploited in one of those sectors but may never recognise them unless they are educated to the signs.

General indicators of human trafficking or modern slavery tend to be harder to spot in the developed world but can include signs of physical or psychological abuse, fear of authorities, no ID documents, poor living conditions and working long hours for little or no pay.

A 2018 report by the Global Slavery Index estimated that some 403,000 people are trapped in modern slavery in the U.S. – seven times higher than previous figures. In the UK, that figure is estimated at 136,000, nearly 12 times higher than earlier estimates. Andrew Forrest, founder of the Global Slavery Index, called the report “a huge wakeup call.” The report includes forced marriages, noting that women and girls make up 71 percent of people trapped in modern-day slavery today.

The pernicious persistence of modern day slavery is one of the reasons it is addressed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 and these build off of many of the accomplishments achieved with the original Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but which did not address human rights, slavery or human trafficking and were often criticized for being too narrow.

In particular, Sustainable Development Goal 8 of the 17 SDGs is the goal to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, whilst Goal 8.7 specifically addresses modern day slavery and human trafficking. It is worth noting that SDG 8.7 is also supported by two other SDG goals. SDG 5 for example aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, while SDG 16 seeks to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

“Because modern-day slavery is a global tragedy, combating it requires international action,” said President Barack Obama, who in 2011 issued a Presidential Proclamation designating each January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. “As we work to dismantle trafficking networks and help survivors rebuild their lives, we must also address the underlying forces that push so many into bondage. We must develop economies that create legitimate jobs [and] build a global sense of justice that says no child should ever be exploited.”

While progress has been made in addressing broader employment issues in some developed nations, such improvements remain overshadowed by the continuing scourge of human slaves being used in the supply chain at both a local and international level.

Whatever the future holds, what is constant is that human trafficking destroys lives, robs people of their dignity and basic human rights as it causes unfathomable misery to the immediate victims, their families and their communities.

Under the circumstances, there must be a seismic shift in awareness and a willingness to act no matter who you are or what community you live in. It is incumbent upon all of us to exercise a higher level diligence and situational awareness aimed at winning the freedom of anyone that is exploited and abused.

With individuals, educators, charity institutions, business and Government each taking incremental steps we can win.

Remember, to save one life is a step towards saving the whole of humanity.

The author, Romy Hawatt is a Founding Member of the Global Sustainability Network ( GSN ) pursuing the United Nations Sustainability Goal number 8 with a special emphasis on Goal 8.7 which ‘takes immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms’.

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Nigerian Radio Drama Tells True Life Stories of Irregular Migrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/nigerian-radio-drama-tells-true-life-stories-irregular-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nigerian-radio-drama-tells-true-life-stories-irregular-migration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/nigerian-radio-drama-tells-true-life-stories-irregular-migration/#respond Fri, 21 Dec 2018 13:34:48 +0000 Sam Olukoya http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159413 The International Organization for Migration has taken its campaign against irregular migration to the airwaves in Nigeria. Working in conjunction with some Nigerian radio stations, the United Nations Migration Agency has launched a radio series on safe migration. The programme, which includes dramas, is made to entertain the audience while at the same time highlighting […]

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Returnee migrants are telling their personal stories on radio as part of the IOM's Migrants as Messengers campaign against irregular migration. Courtesy: Sam Olukoya

By Sam Olukoya
BENIN CITY, Nigeria, Dec 21 2018 (IPS)

The International Organization for Migration has taken its campaign against irregular migration to the airwaves in Nigeria. Working in conjunction with some Nigerian radio stations, the United Nations Migration Agency has launched a radio series on safe migration.

The programme, which includes dramas, is made to entertain the audience while at the same time highlighting the dangers of irregular migration. Nigeria has a high incidence of irregular migration and many have died while undertaking dangerous journeys through the desert and sea trying to reach Europe.

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For Love of the Game: Using Football to Educate Nigerians About the Dangers of Irregular Migrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/love-game-using-football-educate-nigerians-dangers-irregular-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=love-game-using-football-educate-nigerians-dangers-irregular-migration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/love-game-using-football-educate-nigerians-dangers-irregular-migration/#respond Thu, 20 Dec 2018 13:03:32 +0000 Sam Olukoya http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159382 Hundreds of desperate young Nigerians die yearly in the Sahara Desert or at sea while making irregular journeys to Europe. The desperation to reach Europe at all cost, irrespective of the risks, is a major social problem in Africa’s most populous country. Besides the desire for Europe, Nigerians also love football. Taking advantage of football’s […]

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Global Pact Gives Dignity and Rights to Latin American Migrantshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-pact-gives-dignity-rights-latin-american-migrants/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-pact-gives-dignity-rights-latin-american-migrants http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-pact-gives-dignity-rights-latin-american-migrants/#respond Thu, 20 Dec 2018 01:29:20 +0000 Orlando Milesi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159374 A landmark global migration pact provides dignity and rights to migrants in every situation and context, stressed representatives of non-governmental organisations in Latin America and the Caribbean, where some 30 million people live outside their countries, forced by economic, social, security, political and now also climatic reasons. Experts and migrants from the region lamented that […]

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Immigrants in Chile, which draws migrants from other countries in Latin America, celebrate the Fiesta of Cultures for a Dignified Migration waving flags from their countries at the emblematic Plaza de Armas in Santiago on Dec. 18, International Migrants Day. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

Immigrants in Chile, which draws migrants from other countries in Latin America, celebrate the Fiesta of Cultures for a Dignified Migration waving flags from their countries at the emblematic Plaza de Armas in Santiago on Dec. 18, International Migrants Day. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

By Orlando Milesi
SANTIAGO, Dec 20 2018 (IPS)

A landmark global migration pact provides dignity and rights to migrants in every situation and context, stressed representatives of non-governmental organisations in Latin America and the Caribbean, where some 30 million people live outside their countries, forced by economic, social, security, political and now also climatic reasons.

Experts and migrants from the region lamented that some countries are marginalising themselves from this multilateral and collaborative effort to solve a global problem by breaking with a pact that “establishes a minimum foundation for dialogue,” as Rodolfo Noriega of Peru, leader of the National Immigrant Coordinating committee in Chile that includes 72 organisations, told IPS.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was approved at a Dec. 10-11 intergovernmental conference in Marrakech, Morocco by 164 countries, which on Dec. 19 endorsed it in a vote at the United Nations in New York."There are places where the most urgent thing is for the migrant not to lose his or her life, or not to be persecuted, or not to be kidnapped by a trafficking network. There are other contexts in which the problem has to do with discrimination, access to opportunities, access to rights, one's value as a person and not being seen as just a number." -- Juan Pablo Ramacciotti

The right-wing governments of Chile and the Dominican Republic abstained from voting on the agreement, arguing that it does not protect the interests of their countries. This South American country is currently a destination for migrants from neighboring countries, and the Dominican Republic receives a major influx of people from Haiti, with which it shares the island of Hispaniola.

The non-binding agreement has 23 objectives and aims to “minimise the structural factors” that force mass exodus, while including measures against trafficking in persons and the separation of migrant families, and calling for international cooperation, as a first step towards establishing a common approach in a world in which one in 30 people is a migrant.

Juan Pablo Ramacciotti, an official with the Chilean Jesuit Migrant Service, told IPS that the agreement “recognises migrants as people who have dignity and rights in every situation and every context.”

The expert in Latin American migration recalled that currently in this region of 657 million inhabitants, the points of greatest need and crisis for migrants in the region are in the northern triangle of Central America and Venezuela.

In the first case, migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador cross Mexico in their attempt to reach the United States, and in the second, thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing a collapsing country and changing the situation in other South American countries.

“Today the caravan of 7,000 migrants (heading to the U.S. via Mexico) has made the headlines around the world, but it is a situation that is constantly repeated. There are caravans that may not be so massive, but they are permanently seeking to reach the United States. It’s a serious situation, a critical issue, where violations of rights and discrimination abound,” Ramacciotti said.

He added that the second problem arises from the economic and political crisis in Venezuela “because many people are leaving that country, presenting a humanitarian challenge, also because of the incorporation of Venezuelans in different countries, especially in South America.”

There are 258 million migrants around the world, and about 30 million of them are from Latin America and the Caribbean. The phenomenon of migration “has a diverse range of expressions that have placed the issue on the global agenda,” said Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Venezuelan immigrants, whose presence grew explosively in Chile as a result of the chaos in their country, successfully sell their products and typical foods in stalls in Vega Central, Santiago's main food market, which has become a meeting point for Venezuelans. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

Venezuelan immigrants, whose presence grew explosively in Chile as a result of the chaos in their country, successfully sell their products and typical foods in stalls in Vega Central, Santiago’s main food market, which has become a meeting point for Venezuelans. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

This U.N. agency was responsible for coordinating the Latin American position during the talks leading up to the pact. At its headquarters in Santiago, the first regional meeting to establish a common position was held in August 2017, which concluded with the demand that the agreement ratify the human right to free movement of persons.

In this region, migration increased mainly with the exodus from Central America to the United States. By 2015, 89 percent of Salvadoran migrants, 87 percent of Guatemalan migrants and 82 percent of Honduran migrants resided in the United States.

Bárcena has indicated that the pact “is a response by the international community to the challenges and opportunities posed by migration, in a global agenda. It is a historic instrument that constitutes an example of renewed multilateral interest.”

In the opinion of the senior U.N. official, the complexity of the phenomenon of migration in the region “has been growing, as revealed by the movements in Central America and the insufficient responses to the so-called mixed flows, including unaccompanied migrant children; emigration from Venezuela and the new realities faced by the receiving countries; and emigration from Haiti and the discrimination suffered by migrants from that country.”

“And as a corollary, the picture of contrasting realities expressed in the endless adversities faced by many migrants on their journeys,” Bárcena said.

Ramacciotti pointed out that migration is caused by situations of humanitarian crisis, political crisis, extreme poverty and war and that therefore it is very important “that we jointly take charge of a problem and a challenge that we all face.”

Juan Pablo Ramacciotti, an expert on migration in Latin America with the Chilean Catholic Jesuit Migrant Service, gives an interview to IPS in Santiago. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

Juan Pablo Ramacciotti, an expert on migration in Latin America with the Chilean Catholic Jesuit Migrant Service, gives an interview to IPS in Santiago. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), whose regional headquarters are also in Santiago, added two other ingredients driving people out of Latin American countries: climate change and the lack of opportunities in the countryside.

In Central America, for example, “The massive irregular migration we have seen in recent months is a direct consequence of food insecurity, climate crises, the erosion of the social fabric and the lack of economic opportunities in the rural villages and areas of these countries,” said Kostas Stamoulis, deputy director-general of FAO’s Economic and Social Development Department, earlier this month.

Because of the complexity of the phenomenon, “that migration is an issue that each country sees according to its own criteria, from the borders inward, is not a path that allows us to approach the phenomenon with a vision of the future or understanding that it is a problem that involves everyone: countries of origin, transit and destination,” Ramacciotti said.

He added that the fact that “we reached a pact in which we agree on major issues and which helps us move forward together is very good news for all.”

Noriega, for his part, criticised the non-binding nature of the pact and said that, furthermore, “the power and authority of the State is overvalued without giving a more explicit and full guarantee to the right to migrate.”

The pact means “having a minimum level of dialogue,” he said, but he criticised the reaffirmation of “the power of the State to decide who enters and who does not enter their countries and to decide what treatment irregular or regular immigrants should receive.”

He added that “a rather positive aspect is that it reaffirms principles that international law has already been asserting, such as, for example, that deportation should be a last resort in exceptional circumstances.”

With regard to the biggest threats to migrants, Ramacciotti said that depends on the context and the area in question.

“There are places where the most urgent thing is for the migrant not to lose his or her life, or not to be persecuted, or not to be kidnapped by a trafficking network. There are other contexts in which the problem has to do with discrimination, access to opportunities, access to rights, one’s value as a person and not being seen as just a number,” he explained.

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Of Cockroaches and Humanshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/of-cockroaches-and-humans/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=of-cockroaches-and-humans http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/of-cockroaches-and-humans/#respond Wed, 19 Dec 2018 11:47:24 +0000 Roberto Savio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159365 Rita Levi-Montalcini, the Italian Nobel laureate honoured for her work in neurobiology, once gave a splendid conference with the title “The imperfect brain”. There she explained that man has a brain that is not used completely, while the reverse is true for the cockroach. In the growing fog that envelops the planet and its inhabitants, […]

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By Roberto Savio
ROME, Dec 19 2018 (IPS)

Rita Levi-Montalcini, the Italian Nobel laureate honoured for her work in neurobiology, once gave a splendid conference with the title “The imperfect brain”. There she explained that man has a brain that is not used completely, while the reverse is true for the cockroach.

In the growing fog that envelops the planet and its inhabitants, looking at things from the point of view of a cockroach would probably give us a new perspective. Also because the cockroach survived the atomic bomb in Nagasaki, it is 300 million years old, and it is distributed around the planet in over 4,000 species. All things that give it a great advantage over man.

Roberto Savio

Obviously, both are part of the animal kingdom. But man does things that other animals do not. For example, torture. Man has a level of consciousness and intelligence that no other animal possesses. But he does not, for example, learn from mistakes, which all other animals do.

Today, 70 years after its adoption, we are celebrating the Declaration of Human Rights, but we are recreating all the conditions that led to the Second World War, so much so that we talk about the “New Thirties”.

We have returned to waving the well-known flags of “In the name of God” and “In the name of the nation”, flags under which millions of people died.

We have been questioning ourselves about the climate since the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). Rio de Janeiro gave rise to the Kyoto Protocol for the control of climate change which, despite its good intentions, has had negligible results. Finally, after years of negotiations, we managed to convene the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris in 2015, with the participation of all the world’s countries.

For it to happen, every country was left free to set its own goals for reducing carbon monoxide emissions and responsible for monitoring their application. (Just think what would happen if we left citizens the same rules for their taxes). We now know that the result of the commitments made in Paris is leading to a 3.6°C increase in the planet’s temperature. Since 1992, the work of climate scientists has been to calculate how far the temperature can rise from the days of the Industrial Revolution without causing too much damage.

The consensus is 1.5°C, and that at more than two degrees the consequences of heating become irreversible and escape man’s control. For example, the permafrost of Siberia would melt, releasing a quantity of methane, an element 25 times more harmful than carbon monoxide. And the Paris agreement does not include methane, which is already massively produced by livestock farms, planes, ships and much more.

This month will go down in history as the date on which the international system formally entered into crisis and the revolt of the excluded can no longer be ignored, with Trump as a central protagonist.

Long before the Rio Conference, in 1988, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) had created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which brought together the climate scientists of 90 countries to present reports on the state of the climate. These reports have progressively identified human activity as responsible for the increase in temperature, obviously with the opposition of the fossil, oil and coal sectors.

But the figures speak clearly. CO2 emissions have continued to increase, even after the Paris Conference. And the latest report of the 2018 “emissions gap report” sounds a brutal alarm: at the current rate, we need to triple efforts to stay within the famous 1.5 degree mark, because we will get there within the next 12 years. Only 57 countries are on the correct path.

Now we have entered into the realm of myth. That of indefinite development, in which science and the market will be the saviours of the planet. The Trump administration has even presented a report to the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) defending fossil fuels, with the support of producer countries (Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc.).

As for science, there is no doubt that it is playing a positive role. But science has become a market variable. If its findings are not used, they count for little. And history shows us that the free market uses them only if they can give immediate profits and do not create conflict with the sources of profit already in use. An easy example is that of the automotive industry.

Without the progressively introduced regulations, we would have cars that are much inferior to those of today if we were to increase their safety and efficiency, and reduce their pollution. And the myth of the efficiency of the free market, which has been left without checks and controls since the fall of the Berlin Wall, has created some winners, but many losers, who wear yellow jackets and bring revolt to Paris.

To keep to the theme, total subsidies to the fossil industries currently amount to 250 billion dollars a year, while those in the renewables sector now stand at 120 billion… and the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service, has calculated that inaction on climate change will cost Europe 240 billion euro a year, with southern Europe as the major victim.

Then the worst that could happen to the climate happened: it became no longer a problem of survival of the planet, but a political confrontation.

Trump withdrew from the Paris agreement for three reasons: i) to undo what his predecessor Barack Obama had done, which is one of Trump’s automatic reflexes; ii) to satisfy the North American fossil world, which runs from unemployed miners to the billionaires of the fossil sector like the Koch brothers, who invested (their declaration) 900 million dollars in the last US presidential elections – a good example of democracy in a country where corporations have the same rights as citizens); and iii) to oppose any international agreement because America must play its role of great power without being harnessed into any multilateral agreement.

And his world echoes him: the new Brazilian foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo, has declared that “climate change has been used to increase the regulatory power of states over the economy, and the power of international institutions over nations and their population, as well as slowing economic growth in democratic capitalist countries, and promoting the growth of China.”

And here, by mechanical logic, the battle against climate change has become a thing of the left (as have peace, solidarity and social justice). It is the thesis by which Trump withdraws from the Paris agreements and has declared that he does not believe the three reports of his administration on climate change, including one of 1,700 pages.

And since he has become a specialist in putting Draculas to administer the various blood banks that for him represent the various administrations inherited from Obama, the administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is opening national parks and protected areas to the exploitation of fossil companies, just like newly-elected Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro declares he wants to open the Amazon to deforestation and the production of soy.

Moreover, this is the common thread that connects us with two other major events of December 2018 – the United Nations conferences in Katowice, Poland (on climate change), and Marrakech, Morocco (on migration). These, along with the revolt of the “yellow jackets” in France, mean that this month will go down in history as the date on which the international system formally entered into crisis and the revolt of the excluded can no longer be ignored, with Trump as a central protagonist.

 

UNFCCC Secretariat | COP24 opening plenary

 

The Marrakech conference was about adopting a document of principles on migration, for coordinated action, with respect for the human rights of migrants. It ended up leaving every state to establish its own policy. It was a non-binding document, which was not even signed.

In Marrakech, the United States revolted, issuing a statement which, among others, stated: “We believe the Compact [Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration] and the process that led to its adoption, including the New York Declaration [for Refugees and Migrants], represent an effort by the United Nations to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of States to manage their immigration systems in accordance with their national laws, policies, and interests.”

This was enough for the quick formation of a coalition of sovereignists, xenophobes and populists who boycotted the agreement. After Austria, here come Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Switzerland and Trump’s allies, such as Israel, Australia and Chile. And it is here that migration, like the climate, becomes something that is of the left… and the Belgian government loses the far-right party of Flemish autonomy and is forced to redo its coalition, because it decides to participate in the Marrakech conference. And Germany and Italy pass the buck to their parliaments. All this over a non-binding document of principles!

What is apparently incomprehensible is that a serious debate about migration continues to be avoided. The great phenomena of migration, like that of Syria, were caused by international intervention to change the regime, without even thinking about the aftermath of invading.

Obviously there are those who flee from poverty, and not only from conflicts. But this distinction is becoming increasingly blurred. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), every two seconds one person is expelled from their territory due to conflict and persecution: the result is an unprecedented total of 68.5 million migrants in the world. Of these, 24.5 million are refugees, and more than half are under the age of 18.

The number of authoritarian states has been on the increase over the last 10 years, and those fleeing from them has also been increasing, also for political reasons. But those who flee for ethnic, religious or political reasons are refugees (and not economic migrants, who have no rights). And there are 10 million people (like the Rohingya in Myanmar) who are denied nationality, and do not have access to basic rights, such as education, health and freedom of movement: they do not legally exist.

And now comes a new category that does not exist legally: that of environmental refugees who, according to the European Union number 258 million people, forced to leave their homes for climatic reasons. But this is a whole new and difficult discussion. While it is clear who are the victims of a hurricane or an earthquake, it is more difficult in the case of desertification.

Let’s think about the case of island countries like the Maldives where an increase of just one metre in sea level would be enough for them to disappear physically. You can send an immigrant who comes to another country to escape hunger back to Senegal for example, but where do you send back people who no longer have their country?

One of the laws of physics is that of communicating vessels. Africa will double its population in a few decades. Nigeria alone will grow to 400 million inhabitants. Sixty percent of Africans are under 25, compared with 32 percent for North Americans, and 27 percent for Europeans.

According to the United Nations, Europe will need at least twenty million immigrants to maintain its pension system and its competitiveness. Even Japan, which has always struggled to keep its identity and ethnic and cultural purity intact, is opening its doors without fanfare in the face of the aging of its citizens.

European statistics are public, but ignored. In Italy, immigrants totalling five million out of a population of 60.6 million have produced 130 billion euro, 8.9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, an amount larger than the GDPs of Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia. And Italy now has seven births against 11 deaths. In the last five years, 570,000 new businesses out of six million have been created by immigrants in Italy, and the complaint of entrepreneurs, especially in agriculture, is that an Italian workforce cannot be found.

At global level, according to William Swing, former director-general of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), although immigrants account for only 3.5 percent of the world’s population, they produce nine percent of the world’s GDP. But this is not what people believe.

According to a survey by the European Union on the myths and reality of immigration, Italians believe that immigrants account for 20 percent of the population while the figure is actually 10 percent. They believe that 50 percent are Muslims while they are really 30 percent, and that 30 percent are Christians while they are 60 percent. They also believe that 30 percent of them are unemployed while the figure is 10 percent, not far from the national average.

These Italian myths are actually shared by the whole of Europe, and with Trump by the United States. Fox News, Trump’s television arm, now refers to immigrants as “invaders”, and Trump wants to erect the most expensive wall in history, after the Great Wall of Chinese, to keep out criminals and drug traffickers.

And here comes the central theme of this article, which is too short to deal with issues that are apparently unrelated to each other in an effective way. Who elected the Trumps, the Salvinis, the Orbans, the Bolsonaros, and who sees peace and the fight against climate change as leftist positions, international cooperation as a plot in favour of the Chinese and immigrants as invaders? Well, the Catalan nations where a far-right party, born from nothing, won 400,000 votes can be very useful for understanding the revolt of the “yellow jackets” in France.

In Andalusia, the arrival of Vox has messed up all the cards. It took votes from the electorate of the right-wing parties, the Popular Party and Ciudadanos. After 23 years of governing the region, the PSOE, the Social Democrats, has lost control. How did it happen? In order of importance, the arguments of the voters were: 1) Vox fights against immigrants, who are an invasion;2) the party fights corruption, which is instead widespread in traditional parties; 3) it wants a strong government, because with the struggle for the independence of Catalonia Spain is becoming dismembered; and 4) why should a Spaniard go hungry, or be evicted for not paying rent, when food and a roof are being given to arriving immigrants? There was a heavy female vote, despite the anti-gay statements and anti-feminist slogans such as WOMEN IN THE HOME.

Now the place where Vox took more votes than any other party is the town of El Ejido, in the province of Almeria, which has become the nursery of Spain. It has a population of 86,000, of whom one-third are foreigners and one in five is Moroccan. These work in the nurseries surrounding the town, in precarious conditions and exploited. Unemployment is lower than the Spanish average. The town has no library, and a total of 600 newspapers a day are sold. It is evident that immigrants, many of them not registered, do a job that Spaniards do not want to do. If one-third of the population was to leave, that would be the end of prosperity. And who employs immigrants, at 41 euro for eight hours of work (35 for those who are not registered)? They are Spanish citizens. The situation is identical for immigrants in the south of Italy, exploited by local farmers who say that they manage to survive with cheap labour. Otherwise, they would have to shut down.

In other words, immigration has become a myth. America first has become Spain First, Italy First, and so on. The mayor of Almeria sums the situation up: Vox is the voice of anger.

How was this anger reached? It was not born today, but has been created over three decades. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the threat of communism has disappeared, social concerns have fallen, and the market has replaced man as the central element of society. Spending that is not immediately productive (health, education, assistance for the elderly) has been progressively decreased. The rich, because they are productive, receive a progressive reduction in taxation, unlike the poor.

Globalisation has led the rich to become richer, and the poor poorer; it has delocalised businesses and reduced the purchasing power of the middle class, while finance has grown in a world of its own, free from business. The class of craftsmen/women and small traders is disappearing, if it has not already disappeared, devoured by the likes of IKEA and supermarkets.

Cities become increasingly important, and the countryside increasingly empty and poor. A farmer’s product is sold to intermediaries for one-quarter of the final price. Where voters once identified themselves with a factory, with a trade union, with a community of peers, today they are atomised in a vacuum without incentives. And because, after the end of the Soviet Union, the new ethics is to become as rich as possible (today 80 people possess the same wealth as 2.3 million people) and the value of individual competition is increasing the frustration of the losers. Finally, the financial crisis of 2008.

The arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution with technological development, which is eliminating technology that has not been updated from the market, creates a situation of fear and insecurity; the losers no longer feel represented in politics, which seen at the service of the elites and in the hands of a self-referential, corrupt political class, which is directed to satisfying above all the world of the city, the elites, the system. Institutions are perceived as serving the system, and the same fate awaits international institutions, the European Union and the United Nations. Anti-politics is born, and the wave is ridden by parties born largely after the 2008 financial crisis. The struggle of anti-politics against politics becomes stronger than the division between right and left.

This struggle leads, for example, to Brexit, where cities vote to remain in the European Union and the countryside to leave, something that was repeated recently in the Polish elections. It is the same policy of fear and redemption of the losers that led to the power of Trump, who lost in the cities, in the rich states, and won among the poor, in the rural world, in the world of closed factories and abandoned mines, among voters motivated by rancour, anger and fear.

In all small cities, the phenomenon is the same. An investigation in Montauban, one of the most active towns in the “yellow jackets” revolt with less than 60,000 inhabitants, found that there were 27 butchers before the arrival of Carrefour. There are four left. The same happened with greengrocers, with many clothing stores and craft workshops after the arrival of supermarkets. In all, around 900 shops had closed down. Respected citizens considered middle-class suddenly found themselves marginalised and ignored.

Through television, they basically see programmes from cities and a world that is changing in which they have no future. Is it any wonder that this turns into resentment towards the system and those who belong to it? Le Monde has published a table on salaries, which shows that those in a higher intellectual profession earn an average of 2,732 euro a month, which falls to 1,672 for farmers, artisans and traders, but plunges to 1,203 for those in precarious activities. And the “yellow jackets” revolt was triggered by a 10 euro cent increase in the tax on diesel fuel. One of the demonstrators’ slogans was: ‘Macron fears the end of the world, we fear the end of the month’.

Now, to remain in France, Macron has failed to understand that for the losers rational analysis of efficiency increases their estrangement. Life is above all a human fact, and no one is concerned with this aspect any longer. Schumpeter’s model – that the efficiency of the market creates a process of economy that grows thanks to the market’s capacity for creative destruction – is for the losers proof that the system is made only for the winners, and that neither they nor their children will ever have the ability to escape the situation in which they have come to find themselves through no fault of their own.

The ‘Yellow Jackets’ movement has been very successful, because many categories feel ignored. When frustration increases with the passing of the years, of governments, and is reduced only to an economic problem of subsidies, the passage to violence, from dignity that is awakened, is unstoppable. And those who present themselves as “the man of providence”, capable of listening and understanding, opening fights against corruption, for the restoration of law, for traditional society, for the world in which everything went well – from the old independent Britain to the great factories and steel mills of the United States – will have unshakable support.

In reality, there was once a social contract, also regulated by intermediary forces such as trade unions, by a sense of hope and collective identity, such as being a worker or a railwayman. This sense of community has disappeared, almost all places of aggregation have disappeared, such as clubs or dance halls, replaced today by the halls of supermarkets and discos, to which only young people have access.

It would also be necessary to open a chapter on the impact of technology, with internet and social media, which instead of leading to greater communication, have led to a self-referential and narcissistic world, where each one organises their own virtual world, escapes from real society, creating aggregations among peers and no longer dialogue with others. Another instrument that is felt as exclusion for generational reasons.

Even though the revolt of the ‘Yellow Jackets’ was made possible by Facebook, which brought together hundreds of thousands of people aggregated against the common enemy: the system, which ignored and marginalised them. However, it should be clear that robotisation and artificial intelligence will put more people on the margins of society than immigration ever will, with new priests of the system, technicians who will manage the world of artificial intelligence.

It is thus now clear that without social justice, we will not go far. Macron who lifts taxes from the rich to attract investments to France lives in a world that is different from that of most of its citizens. And above all, in a world of numbers and Excel tables. A world in which “men of providence” will lead us inexorably towards a war.

Exploiting fear and injustice works politically for obtaining votes. The battles of the losers of globalisation have been opened by social movements, by the World Social Forum. But who uses them is not the left, which with Tony Blair’s ‘third way’ thought it could ride the wave of globalisation, when it only managed to lose its base: the battle of the losers is used by right that is not ideological but of the gut.

Creating a new social pact as existed before the fall of the Berlin Wall is not easy. Money – which is no longer there – is necessary. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) tells us that world debt exceeds 182 trillion dollars. In just one year, it has increased by 18 trillion dollars. Since the 2007 crisis, it has increased by 60 percent. We are all living on credit, and Macron, who now would like to use social justice to restore peace, has no funds to do so.

Moreover, as always in a world that has lost its compass, the money would be there. Every year, countries’ tax authorities collect 150 billion dollars less than they could because of tax havens that could easily be outlawed in a very short time. It is always the same: if we could introduce social justice as the first objective, it would be easy, even on a global scale.

The United States, for example, spent the absurd sum of 5.9 trillion dollars in military operations and armaments after the attack on the Twin Towers. In 2017, 1.719 billion dollars were spent on armaments worldwide, a figure never before reached in history. And if military expenses could be considered necessary by some, I do not see who defends the spending for corruption: in the last year, according to the United Nations, this amounted to one trillion dollars, and the money stolen in governments another 2.6 trillion. Another proof of the efficiency of the free market!

And now let’s go back to our cockroach. According to scientists, we are heading towards the sixth crisis of extinction of the animal and plant kingdom. Extinction is a natural phenomenon, affecting one to five species each year. But scientists estimate that the current rate is at least a thousand times higher, with dozens of species every day. It is believed that by the middle of the century at least 30 percent of existing species will have disappeared.

Obviously, the cockroach is not one of these. It is estimated that a building in New York has at least 36,000 cockroaches.

But men have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to find a way to give animal proteins in a different, more sustainable way, and that the path to follow is to eat insects. There are cultural resistances (not in China and other countries), but they can be overcome with an appealing presentation …

And our cockroach can only desire that the bunglers of the animal kingdom, called men, get out of the way as soon as possible. The entire animal and plant kingdoms, and probably also the mineral one, are asking for this.

Certainly, without man, in the space of twenty years the planet would become ideal for nature…

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The Arduous Search for Dignity Through Integration and a Pay Checkhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/arduous-search-dignity-integration-pay-check/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=arduous-search-dignity-integration-pay-check http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/arduous-search-dignity-integration-pay-check/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 21:20:19 +0000 Sejjari Mehdi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159326 One of the most common words used by speakers during the Global Compact on Migration was “dignity”—granting migrants the dignity they deserve. As with any advocacy, there is a danger a word can lose meaning through overuse. But on the streets of Morocco the same word means a lot to migrants looking for work. And […]

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Migrants on a street in Casablanca, Morocco. Courtesy: Alié Dior Ndour

By Sejjari Mehdi
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

One of the most common words used by speakers during the Global Compact on Migration was “dignity”—granting migrants the dignity they deserve. As with any advocacy, there is a danger a word can lose meaning through overuse. But on the streets of Morocco the same word means a lot to migrants looking for work. And when they find it—both work and dignity—it can alter the entire migration equation. 

“Despite the difficulties I encountered at first, being in an irregular situation, I am working today in a private communications company after an operation launched by the Moroccan authorities to give residency permits to tens of thousands of immigrants living in the country illegally,” says Ahmadou, a Nigerian migrant, who has been living in Morocco for five years.

At first, he was all set on reaching that supposed El Dorado for so many migrants: Europe. But now the situation is different. Ahmadou says professional integration is the key. If you have no job, he says, then the ambition to reach Europe will never disappear.

“I am able to provide the necessities of life, especially housing,” Ahmadou says. “Of course, there are immigrants who suffer because they have inappropriate skills, or because of the fact some companies give priority to local citizens.”

Amid increasing international bickering—with a lengthening list of countries abstaining from the Compact—eventually 164 countries signed the non-binding Compact for “safe, orderly and regular migration.”

The Compact seeks to ensure migrants enjoy rights within a global vision based on joint management of migration between countries of origin, transit and hosting. Maintaining dignity underpins this effort—both for migrants and countries at large—by establishing a set of principles fostering integration of migrants within societies, while giving states full sovereignty in the enactment of national migration policies.

Indeed, the Compact is not binding, rather it invites countries to “develop national short, medium and long-term policy goals regarding the inclusion of migrants in societies, including on labor market integration, family reunification, education, non-discrimination and health, including by fostering partnerships with relevant stakeholders.”

The process of integration lately has proved arduous in many countries—Germany becoming a poster child for such frictions after welcoming hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees from strife-torn countries—especially when it comes to employment for migrants, resulting in high unemployment levels.

Even if jobs are found, migrants in European countries are more likely to work on temporary contracts. Over time, though, the employment gap between migrants and native born does narrow in most countries, and even vanishes in a third, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED).

Morocco is in a similar position to European countries having shifted from being a country of origins and transit to also one of destination for migrants.

Hence Morocco’s authorities have launched a program through its Agence nationale de promotion de l’emploi et des compétences (ANAPEC)—which translates as the national agency for employment and skills—to facilitate access to job search assistance, provide employment assistance and promote work equity within companies.

Its ultimate objective is to is to guarantee an honourable and dignified life for regularised migrants by ensuring equitable access to the labor market.

But despite such measures, the number of migrants and refugees inserted into Morocco’s labor market remains limited. On any given day, young men from various countries in West Africa endlessly pace the streets around Marrakech’s iconic Jemaa el-Fnaa square and market place in the Medina quarter, amiably trying to hawk the likes of iPhones, watches, sunglasses and bright decorative shirts to passers-by.

Hence calls to increase the ANAPEC services and benefits available to migrants, to mobilise and stimulate micro-credit institutions to finance income-generating activities and enterprises by migrants, and to improve communications to incentivise the private sector about the importance of recruiting migrants.

“Parlais vous Francais?” one migrant, sits by his trinkets laid out on the street, says hopefully to a potential foreign customer walking by, asking if he speaks English. But a shake of the head and a school-boy French apology are all that follow.

The migrant smiles and keeps waiting for another potential customer.

“Continuing to improve the conditions of migrants’ access to public services and rights, including the right to decent work, will push lots of migrants to realise their dreams here without the need to ride the waves of death across the Mediterranean,” Ahmadou says.

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On International Migrants Day a Call for Dignity, Respect for Migrant Choiceshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/international-migrants-day-call-dignity-respect-migrant-choices/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=international-migrants-day-call-dignity-respect-migrant-choices http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/international-migrants-day-call-dignity-respect-migrant-choices/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 19:22:07 +0000 Antonio Vitorino http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159324 António Vitorino is Director General of International Organization for Migration (IOM)

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António Vitorino is Director General of International Organization for Migration (IOM)

By António Vitorino
GENEVA, Dec 18 2018 (IOM)

Migration is the great issue of our era. Migration With Dignity (#WithDignity) is the theme of 2018’s International Migrants Day, which we observe on Tuesday (18 December).

Dignity is at the core of our mission. Treating all migrants with dignity is the fundamental requirement we face before anything else we attempt on migration—a troubling issue coming at a troubling time for the world community—because our future depends on it. So, too, does our present.

António Vitorino

I am newly arrived at the International Organization for Migration, recently chosen to lead one of the international community’s oldest and most effective organizations. Yet migration is as old as humankind. Which means that IOM, at a mere 67 years of age, is a relative newcomer.

We are today a species on the move; hundreds of millions of us are, in the broadest sense, migrants. There remains much to do. And learn. But dignity comes first. Foremost, the dignity to choose.

Migration is a force for dignity because it allows people to choose to save themselves, protect themselves, educate themselves, or free themselves. It lets millions choose participation over isolation, action over idleness, hope over fear and prosperity over poverty.

We must dignify those choices by paying them respect. We respect them by treating those who make such choices with dignity.

We also have the choice. To answer migrants’ hopes with our acceptance; to answer their ambition with opportunities. To welcome rather than repudiate their arrival.

We must also respect and listen to those who have become frightened of the changes that migration brings to their lives. Whether their fears are warranted or not, they are authentic and deserve to be addressed with dignity.

Unless we give all citizens the assurance their choices, too, are respected, we risk losing a real opportunity for progress. Migration embodies choices we make together—either by responding to our new neighbours (or potential new neighbours) with a sense of community, or not.

The adoption earlier this month (10 December) in Marrakech of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) by an overwhelming majority of UN Member States takes us one step towards dignity for all, and towards a more balanced discourse and widespread cooperation on migration.

The GCM strikes a delicate balance between the sovereignty of nations and the security, and dignity, we demand for every individual.

As we turn now to celebrate the United Nations’ annual International Migrants Day we’ll do well to remind ourselves of that balance, and how the two sides do not compete with each other. They complement.

The Compact stresses all states need well-managed migration, and that no one state can achieve this on its own. Cooperation at all levels is fundamental to addressing migration.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 18 December as International Migrants Day in 2000. That same year, in its annual World Migration Report, IOM stated that more than 150 million international migrants celebrated the turn of the millennium outside their countries of birth.

Eighteen years on, the trend of men, women and children on the move has continued upward. Eighteen years on, we’ve seen the number of international migrants grow to an estimated 258 million people. Another 40 million people are currently internally displaced by conflict, and every year millions of others (18.8 million in 2017) are forced from their homes by climate-related disasters and natural hazards.

For many people, the mere act of migration exposes them to great dangers.

IOM’s data show that close to 3,400 migrants and refugees have already lost their lives worldwide in 2018. Most died trying to reach Europe by sea; many others perished attempting to cross deserts or pass through dense forests seeking safety far from official border crossings. These numbers, compiled daily by IOM staff, shame us.

IOM reaffirms that migration is a driving force for progress and development not just for those on the move, but also for transit countries and especially, receiving communities in destination countries.

We renew our call to save lives by ensuring migration is safe, regular and dignified for all.

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António Vitorino is Director General of International Organization for Migration (IOM)

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Global Anti-Human Trafficking Coalitionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 18:27:12 +0000 Vladimir Bozovic http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159316 Vladimir Bozovic is Advisor of Government of the Republic of Serbia

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Child labourers rescued in Delhi waiting to be sent back to their villages. Credit: Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

By Vladimir Bozovic
BELGRADE, Serbia, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

Entire human history is one great struggle for freedom. To many, slavery is a synonym for something in the past, for transatlantic slave trade, but, unfortunately, slavery still exists in many different forms.

Records show that over twenty seven million men, women and children still live today in conditions that characterized social form of the slave ownership. They are trapped in forced labor and debt bondage, in domicile work and forced marriages, or they are being exploited by the human traffickers. We can easily speak of slavery as of great tragedy, and the fact that in this day and age still exists, is a downfall of human kind.

Modern slavery is a challenge for every democratic country. Suffering is the same as in the past, but methods are more sophisticated and perfidious, and most of those who suffer are the ones that should be protected the most – poor and socially excluded groups, who often live on the margins of our society, and young women and children. This is not an imaginary problem, it does not happen only to someone else and somewhere else; rather, it is a real threat and anyone can fall victim to.

The very first challenge in fight against slavery must be a cognizance: we must confess a bitter truth that slavery has been weakened, but still exists. Human trafficking is one of the growing forms of transnational crime, characterized by high profit and low risk, and it is followed by a grave statistics. It is crime of economic nature, and most efficiently organized, and we are currently fighting it on inconsistent and fragmented way. That is the dark side of globalization.

The issue of modern slavery is globally recognized by the UN in its millennium goals. Goal 8 is dedicated to increasing labor productivity, reducing the unemployment rate, especially for young people, improving access to financial services and benefits, fight against modern slavery and child labor. So many activities around this particular global goal prove that we don’t live anymore in a selfish world where we don’t consider other nations and their problems. No, the world of todays opens up to the misery of others, and everybody everywhere has to be good, for us to feel good. Employed, productive populations, sustainable economic growth, decent jobs with equal opportunities for fair salaries, safe working environments, social protection, these are all values that will ensure the progress of the entire world, and the whole world will benefit from the creativity, business and innovation of the free people.

Plenty has been done in delivering the Goal 8. UN reports that the average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita worldwide increased, the number of children from 5 to 17 years of age who are working has declined, access to financial services through automated teller machines increased… Plenty has been done, but also plenty has to be done. Child labor remains a serious concern with more than half of child laborers participate in dangerous work and 59% of them work in the agricultural sector; labor productivity has slowed down, the global unemployment rate hasn’t changed from 2016, with women more likely to be unemployed than men across all age groups. Youth were almost three times as likely as adults to be unemployed… It is clear that efforts provide results, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

There was a time we thought that the slavery is forever beaten, only to come back to us in new forms and shapes. That is why the solution must be fresh and brave. The only final answer to this problem is for every country, every government, every agency to work together, to unite and create an Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition that will engage entire society in fight against this crime, and combine all our efforts in protecting our citizens. It should be understood that eradicating the human trafficking is not solely a mission for the police or law enforcement agencies, this is a fight at all levels of society. We should campaign through media with the message that will define the problem, and develop the clear strategy that will unite countries and governments, churches and religious organizations, NGOs, youth, academic communities, media and all other important representatives of the society in one efficient and effective action with clear mechanisms of measuring the results. Everything should be designed in the way that those results are realistic and visible to the present victims, and to provide prevention and protection for potential victims. Time has clearly shown us, that this is one thing we can’t beat alone, nationally, rather, it’s a nick of time to do it globally.

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Excerpt:

Vladimir Bozovic is Advisor of Government of the Republic of Serbia

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Global Migration Compact May Help Combat the Myth that Migrants are Liabilitieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-migration-compact-may-help-combat-myth-migrants-liabilities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-migration-compact-may-help-combat-myth-migrants-liabilities http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-migration-compact-may-help-combat-myth-migrants-liabilities/#respond Mon, 17 Dec 2018 15:23:32 +0000 Kingsley Ighobor http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159280 Kingsley Ighobor, Africa Renewal*

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Rescue operations of African migrants carried out in the Channel of Sicily, Italy. Credit: IOM / Malavolta

By Kingsley Ighobor
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 17 2018 (IPS)

In August 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May visited countries in Africa, sparking hope of increased foreign direct investments (FDI) in the continent.

Mr. Macron was in Nigeria, Ms. Merkel visited Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, and Ms. May made stops in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

Apart from the question of FDI, these influential leaders were looking at how to stem the flow of African migrants traveling to Europe in search of jobs and better lives.

“I believe in a win-win game. Let’s help Africa to succeed. Let’s provide new hope for African youth in Africa,” President Macron said in Nigeria, explaining that it was in Europe’s interest to tackle migration from Africa at its roots.

New York Times writers Eduardo Porter and Karl Russell echoed the French president’s sentiments: “If rich countries want fewer immigrants, their best shot might be to help poor countries become rich, so that fewer people feel the urge to leave.”

Africans on the road
Every day hundreds of Africans, including women and children, strike out in search of real or imagined riches in Europe or America. About a million migrants from sub-Saharan Africa moved to Europe between 2010 and 2017, according to the Pew Research Center, a Washington, D.C.–based nonpartisan fact tank.

While Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia and South Africa are the top way stations for sub-Saharan migrants moving to Europe and the US, Pew lists South Sudan, Central African Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe, Eritrea and Namibia as having some of the fastest-growing international migrant populations living outside their country of birth.

Africans are on the move because of “conflict, persecution, environmental degradation and change, and a profound lack of human security and opportunity,” states the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in its World Migration Report 2018.

Migration corridors mostly used by Africans are Algeria to France, Burkina Faso to Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt to the United Arab Emirates, Morocco to Spain, and Somalia to Kenya.

Of the 258 million international migrants globally, 36 million live in Africa, with 19 million living in another African country and 17 million in Europe, North America and other regions, Ashraf El Nour, Director of IOM, New York, informed Africa Renewal.

When unregulated and unmanaged, migration can create “false and negative perceptions of migrants that feed into a narrative of xenophobia, intolerance and racism,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted at an event in New York last September.

“The narrative of migrants as a threat, as a source of fear, which has colored international media coverage on migration, is false,” said Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), a UN body that deals with trade, investment and development issues, in an interview with Africa Renewal.

Orderly migration
The Global Compact for Migration, the first-ever inter-governmentally negotiated agreement on international migration, which was adopted in Marrakesh last week, could counter negative perceptions of migrants, experts say.

The IOM states the compact will help achieve “safe, orderly and regular migration,” referring to it as an opportunity to “improve the governance on migration, to address the challenges associated with today’s migration, and to strengthen the contribution of migrants and migration to sustainable development.”

The compact consists of 23 objectives, among them mitigating the adverse drivers and structural factors that hinder people from building and maintaining sustainable livelihoods in their countries of origin; reducing the risks and vulnerabilities migrants face at different stages of migration by respecting, protecting and fulfilling their human rights and providing them with care and assistance; and creating conditions that enable all migrants to enrich societies through their human, economic and social capacities, and thus facilitating their contributions to sustainable development at the local, national, regional and global levels.

The compact also refers to enabling faster, safer and cheaper transfer of remittances and fostering the financial inclusion of migrants; ensuring that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation; and providing migrants with access to basic services.

The Global Compact for Migration is not legally binding, but its provisions can be a powerful reference point for those formulating immigration policies as well as for human rights advocates in the face of mistreatment of migrants.

Negative attitudes or even violence against migrants typically stem from fears that they take jobs away from native-born citizens or that they engage in criminal activities, according to a study by the South Africa–based Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), a statutory research agency.

In the HSRC study, which focused on South Africans’ attitudes toward immigrants, 30% of the public blamed foreigners for “stealing jobs from hardworking South Africans,” while another 30% pointed to immigrants’ criminal activities.

But IOM South Africa countered that “immigration does not harm the long-term employment prospects or wages of native-born workers,” adding that “migrants are twice as likely to be entrepreneurs [as] South African nationals.” The South African government regularly condemns xenophobic attacks.

Economic perspective of migration
Mr. Kituyi said that most migration studies focus on “the plight of migrants, the crisis of international solidarity or humanitarian challenges.” He wished that more attention were paid to migration from the perspective of economic development.

Ms. Lúcia Kula, an Angolan migrant who is a researcher in the UK, concurred, adding that conversations about migration should shift to the migrants’ contributions to their new society.

“One of the main things they [immigrants] do in the economies they get into is create value. They enter niches where they are more competitive…and it can boost the local economy,” Mr. Kituyi elaborated.

Many migrants are talented professionals and offer expert services in their new countries. Iso Paelay, for example, left Liberia in the heat of the war in the 90s and resettled in Ghana, where he became a star presenter for TV3, a leading media house in the country. Apparently, Liberia’s loss was Ghana’s gain.

Mr. Kituyi points to a phenomenon of migrants going to other countries to engage in the ethnic food business. “They start creating routes to get food from their home country,” he said. Ethiopian restaurants in Nairobi, Kenya, including Abyssinia, Habesha and Yejoka Garden, serve Ethiopian dishes such as injera.

Abuja International Restaurant in Union, New Jersey, sells Nigerian food such as eba, amala and fufu and the popular beer Gulder. In New York, Africans and others throng “Little Senegal,” a single street in Harlem, to shop for anything African—foodstuffs, music CDs, hair products, religious items and finely tailored clothes.

While working hard, earning money and making contributions to their new countries, African migrants also “remit small monies back home to support their families,” explained Mr. Kituyi. “Eighty-five percent [of immigrants’ earnings] goes to the host country and 15% to the country of origin through remittances.”

“A good chunk of the money I make here [in the US] I spend here; I pay my bills and get things for myself. I remit some to upkeep my parents,” concurs Ms. Christy Emeagi, a lawyer who left Nigeria “because I wanted a better life for my unborn children.”

The inclusion in the Global Compact for Migration of ways to make remittances faster and safer will be sweet music to African migrants.

In 2017, remittance flows from migrants to sub-Saharan Africa were $38 billion, reports the World Bank. That is more than the $25 billion official development aid (ODA) to the region that year.

Currently, says Mr. Kituyi, “it is painful to see an overly high cost of transaction mostly going to international payment services like Western Union, PayPal and so on.”

Achieving the objectives of the Global Compact for Migration may take some time, experts believe. Nevertheless, the compact’s immediate impact is that safe, orderly and regular migration is currently at the forefront of global conversation. And that is a step in the right direction.

*Africa Renewal is published by the United Nations

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Excerpt:

Kingsley Ighobor, Africa Renewal*

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From Irregular Migrant to Graduate Lawyer: One Woman’s Journey to Successhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/irregular-migrant-graduate-lawyer-one-womans-journey-success/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=irregular-migrant-graduate-lawyer-one-womans-journey-success http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/irregular-migrant-graduate-lawyer-one-womans-journey-success/#respond Mon, 17 Dec 2018 15:11:16 +0000 Mikaila Issa http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159272 Masters of Laws student Khoudia Ndiaye will graduate from Senegal’s University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) next year. The 24-year-old, who specialised in notarial law and dreams of becoming a notary, wants to bring justice closer to local communities like those in her local district of Hann Bel-Air, in Senegal’s capital Dakar, where she rarely sees […]

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Masters of Laws student Khoudia Ndiaye is expected to qualify from Senegal’s University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) in 2019. Ndiaye is a returnee migrant. Credit: Samuelle Paul Banga/IPS

By Mikaila Issa
DAKAR, Dec 17 2018 (IPS)

Masters of Laws student Khoudia Ndiaye will graduate from Senegal’s University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) next year. The 24-year-old, who specialised in notarial law and dreams of becoming a notary, wants to bring justice closer to local communities like those in her local district of Hann Bel-Air, in Senegal’s capital Dakar, where she rarely sees female lawyers.

While the young, intelligent and dedicated Ndiaye has a bright future ahead of her and speaks with enthusiasm about it, there was a time not too long ago that she never dreamt of becoming so successful. Instead she was living—in fear and subject to racism—in a foreign country.

Ndiaye is a returnee migrant. In 2012, while only 18, and after being enrolled at UCAD’s Faculty of Law for just four months, she was overwhelmed.

Now when she speaks about her reasons for wanting to leave Senegal, she lowers her head and laughs.
“In the first year of law at the university, we were 4,000 students and I underestimated myself because I did not think I had a chance to succeed in this world,” she tells IPS.

A journey into disillusionment 

She began to look for something else to do with her life. She always wanted to work at a call centre and had been told by her cousin Pape, who was living in Morocco, “that call centre employees are very well paid and well connected.”

Daro Thiam (left), a returnee migrant from Mauritania is being interviewed by Khoudia Ndiaye (centre) and and Ndeye Fatou Sall (right) in Hann Bel-Air, a neighbourhood in Senegal’s capital Dakar. Courtesy: International Organization for Migration (IOM)/Julia Burpee

Leaving one’s family and daring to go on an adventure without warning is a brave decision—surrealistic even—for a young girl in a deeply-religious society like Senegal. “It was not easy to make such a decision. I did not tell my parents because if they knew about my idea, they would not allow me to leave,” Ndiaye remembers.

Pape put her in contact with the people who would help her migrate without regular papers.
“I financed my trip with my scholarship up to 200.000FCFA which is the equivalent of 348 dollars.”
But on the day of the trip to the “promised land” she realised that she was deceived because she had believed she would fly to Morocco, but instead “ended up taking a bus by force”.

After journeying 3,000 kilometres in a minibus, Ndiaye, and the other young Africans who were her travelling companions, arrived in Marrakech, Morocco.

Very quickly, her dream of working in a call centre turned into disillusionment.
What she hadn’t been told, and perhaps what her cousin didn’t know, was that call agents in Morocco were required to have two years of university credits.

For a time she lived with her cousin and his wife and while she was well treated, things were not necessarily easy.
She was witness to her cousin’s mugging and attack in a public street and feared the same would happen to her one day. “Moroccans on a scooter tried to steal his phone. He wanted to defend himself, but young Moroccans stabbed him. I saw the blood flowed and this image traumatised me,” she says with trembling voice.

Home to try again

She decided to return home and her parents, who by then knew of her presence in Morocco, paid for her return flight. Once home, with the advice and support of her family and relatives, Ndiaye pursued her studies once again.
She re-enrolled in university, and it was her second attempt to obtain her Bachelor of Laws.

“At the university, it was a bit like home, I was ashamed of the eyes of people and my classmates because they were all aware that I had stopped my studies to go to Morocco,” Ndiaye regrets.

A new beginning
But on a cold winter’s morning in November, and in the midst of a crowd of young students jostling to register at the university, we manage to force our way through the crowd to reach the main entrance of the Faculty of Law. It is here that Ndiaye’s professors and other UCAD staff gave her a chance. It is here that Ndiaye tried again to obtain her degree, this time succeeding.

“I received support from my teachers, especially one of my teachers who cheered me up whenever I needed it. She now sits at the Dakar court,” Ndiaye says excitedly.

Migrants as Messengers

As Ndiaye thrived with her studies, she was contacted by a friend, also a returnee migrant, who gave her the phone number of Mohamadou Ba, who is in charge of managing a community of returnee migrant volunteers in Dakar.

Ba is part of the Migrants as Messengers (MaM) awareness-raising campaign, which was developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The peer-to-peer messaging campaign trains returnee migrants how to interview, film and document the stories of their fellow returnees. They share their experiences through Facebook and on other social media sites, providing a platform for others to do the same.

When Ndiaye heard about it, she joined. She met with other returnee migrants and heard of their experiences and stories, as she shared her own. Because MaM is structured as a peer-to-peer campaign, it allowed Ndiaye and other returning migrants to structure a message for young people that was based on their own first-hand experiences “… the best thing is to stay at home or if you decide to travel, do it by a normal way.”

Support that goes beyond financial aid

Ndiaye is also glad for the support she received from the network. “We have gained confidence and hope. And this is much more important than financial aid,” Ndiaye says.

It is not just Ndiaye who has benefited from the training.

Yaya Mballo and Ndèye Fatou Sall are also returnee migrants in Senegal. Thanks to the IOM training they have been able to re-integrate into society and even launched their own business—where they offer public speaking and videography services.

Julia Burpee, Media Development Specialist and trainer at MaM tells IPS how the project has helped its participants transform.
“When we started the videography and storytelling trainings, many of the migrants who returned home from Libya and other countries, were too timid and ashamed to share their stories of migration.
“The more they stood in front of—and behind—the camera and saw the benefits of using video as a tool for healing and advocacy, the more they started to speak up. They now all speak confidently and with conviction about their migration experiences, eager to help inform other West Africans about the risks they faced, and ultimately, save lives,” Burpee says.

Tomorrow, Dec. 18, marks International Migrants Day and many of the returnee migrants will be celebrating it through events held around Dakar.

But today, Ndiaye is keenly interested in gender rights. In fact her Master’s dissertation was on the gender balance in Muslim succession law here in this West African nation.

“Inheritance law fascinates me the most because it is the regulation of everyday life and also it is a fact of society that is heard constantly,” she tells IPS.

“Yes women can,” Ndiaye concludes.

  • Additional reporting by Samuelle Paul Banga in Dakar.

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“No One Listened to Us!” The Ixiles of Guatemalahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/no-one-listened-us-ixiles-guatemala/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=no-one-listened-us-ixiles-guatemala http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/no-one-listened-us-ixiles-guatemala/#respond Mon, 17 Dec 2018 13:32:06 +0000 Jan Lundius http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159268 According to the Mexican Interior Ministry more than 7,000 Central American migrants have during the last month arrived at the US-Mexico border. Despite warnings by officials that they will face arrests, prosecution and deportation if they enter US territory, migrants state they intend to do so anyway, since they are fleeing persecution, poverty and violence. […]

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By Jan Lundius
Stockholm/Rome, Dec 17 2018 (IPS)

According to the Mexican Interior Ministry more than 7,000 Central American migrants have during the last month arrived at the US-Mexico border. Despite warnings by officials that they will face arrests, prosecution and deportation if they enter US territory, migrants state they intend to do so anyway, since they are fleeing persecution, poverty and violence. This is not new, in 1995 I visited Ixil and Ixcan, two Guatemalan areas mainly inhabited by Ixiles. My task was to analyse the impact of a regional development programme aimed at supporting post-conflict indigenous communities. United Nations has estimated that between 1960 and 1996 more than 245,000 people (mostly civilians) had been killed, or “disappeared” during Guatemalan internal conflicts, the vast majority of the killings were attributed to the army, or paramilitary groups.

A rainy day I visited a camp for returnees. After living in Mexico, Ixiles were awaiting land distribution. Behind wire and monitored by soldiers, they huddled among their meagre belongings, sheltered by plastic sheets stretched across wooden poles. They expressed their hopes for the future. They wanted to be listened to, allowed to build up their villages, gain respect and become accepted as coequal citizens in their own country. While asked what they wanted most of all, several returnees answered: “We need a priest and a church.” I wondered if they were so religious. “No, no,” they answered. “We need to rebuild our lives, finding our place in the world, be with our ancestors. The priest will make us believe in ourselves and trust in God. That will give us strength. We need a church so we can build our village around it. We all need a centre and every village needs one as well.”

Ixil tradition emphasizes the importance of land and ancestry. A few days before my visit to the camp I had interviewed an aj’kin, a Maya priest. Aj means “master of” and kin “day”. Aj´kines perform rituals and keep track of the time – the past, the present and the future. Like many old Ixiles the aj´kin did not speak any Spanish and the Ixil engineer who accompanied me translated his words. The engineer suggested that I would ask the aj´kin to “sing his family”. The old man then delivered a long, monotonous chant, listing his ancestors all the way back to pre-colonial days. When I asked him what the singing was about the aj´kin explained: “The world belongs to those who were here before us. We only take care of it, until we become one of them. All the ancestors want from us is that we don´t abandon them, making them know that we remember them. Memory and speech is the thread that keeps the Universe together.”

In the camp, Ixiles told me they had been ignored for hundreds of years and that this was the main reason for the violent conflict. Uniformed men had arrived in their villages and first, people had assumed they were government soldiers, becoming enthused when the strangers declared that it was time for Ixiles to have their voices heard, their wishes fulfilled. However, the “liberators” could not keep their promises. They did not represent the Government, they were guerilleros, proclaiming they had “freed” the peasants, when all they had done was to “speak a lot” and create “revolutionary committees”, only to retreat as soon as the Government troops arrived. These were much stronger and more ruthless than the guerilleros and stated that Ixiles had become “communists”. They murdered and tortured them, burned their fields. What could they do? They asked their Catholic priests for help, but the Government accused the Church of manipulating them through its ”liberation theology”; by preaching that Jesus had been on the side of the poor. The soldiers even killed priests. One woman told me that she and her neighbours one morning had found the parish priest’s severed head laying on the church steps. Some peasants joined the guerrilla, others organized militias to keep it at a safe distance:

    “Some of the guerilleros were our own sons and daughters, but what could we do? As soon as guerrilleros appeared and preached their socialism, the army arrived, killing us. The guerrilleros were not strong enough to fight the soldiers. We were left to be slaughtered. The only solution we could find was to arm ourselves and with weapons in hand ask the guerrilleros to stay away from our villages. However, all over the world they declared that we were supporting a corrupt and oppressive regime. We found ourselves between two fires, solutions were almost non-existent. No one listened to us”

A Catholic priest living in the camp explained: “They tend to be very religious, but their faith is mostly about human dignity. Ixiles want to be masters of their lives. They need to be listened to. Every day I sit for hours listening to confessions. They talk and talk. It makes them content when someone is listening to them. This is one of the problems we Catholics face. Ixiles are abandoning our faith for the one of the evangelicals.”

For centuries the Church had told Ixiles what to do, but finally both Catholics and peasants had been persecuted. In 1982, under the presidency of Ríos Montt, violence reached its peak. A scorch earth campaign lasting for five months resulted in the deaths of approximately 10,000 indigenous Guatemalans, while 100,000 rural villagers were forced to flee their homes, most of them over the border, into Mexico. Ríos Montt was a “born-again Christian” and in the aftermath of the violence evangelical sectarians appeared in the Ixil areas. Many of the remaining Ixiles became evangelicals, stating this was their only way to avoid persecution and come in contact with the “High Command” of the unconstrained army forces.

The loudspeakers of evangelical churches amplified their voices, allowing Ixiles to confess their sins and praise the Lord. However, were their voices finally heard? Their well-being improved? Do they have a say in the governing of their country? Many Ixiles are once again leaving their homes, hoping to reach the US. Research indicates a difference between migration patterns of El Salvador and Honduras and Guatemala. In the former two countries migration decision is more often the result of immediate threats to safety, while in Guatemala it stems from chronic stressors; a mix of general violence, poverty, and rights violations, especially among indigenous people.

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

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Not Just the Big Guys Are Against the Compacthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/not-just-big-guys-compact/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=not-just-big-guys-compact http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/not-just-big-guys-compact/#respond Thu, 13 Dec 2018 22:40:19 +0000 Souleymane Brah Oumarou http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159239 A few hours after the adoption of the United Nation’s Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech, a consortium of Moroccan human rights organisations—La Vie Campesina—held a sit in protest in front of Marrakech’s Grand Post Office. In the statement issued on December 11, the leaders of the 15 organisations denounced the […]

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A few hours after the adoption of the United Nation’s Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech, a consortium of Moroccan human rights organisations—La Vie Campesina—held a sit in protest in front of Marrakech’s Grand Post Office, denouncing the compact. Credit: Souleymane Brah Oumarou/IPS

By Souleymane Brah Oumarou
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 13 2018 (IPS)

A few hours after the adoption of the United Nation’s Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech, a consortium of Moroccan human rights organisations—La Vie Campesina—held a sit in protest in front of Marrakech’s Grand Post Office. In the statement issued on December 11, the leaders of the 15 organisations denounced the compact.

“It is a setback, not only for the free movement of people and their goods, but also a violation of human rights, protection of migrants and their families as provided for in international conventions already approved by the United Nations and other institutions,” says Federico Daniel, a member of the consortium, adding that La vie Campesina proposes an alternative compact “to restore the primacy of the rights of men, women, children and peoples.”

This can be achieved, he explains, by “building local economies that are sustainable, united and just, while a state’s responsibility is to prevent criminalisation, repression or detention of migrants on their migratory routes before they reach their country of destination and settlement.”

The consortium’s stance echoes that of a number of UN member countries that made last minute withdrawals from the compact. Hungary, Australia, Israel, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Italy, Switzerland and Chile have all either refused to sign it or expressed reservations. The United States, one of the first to bridle against the U.N.’s push for the Compact, has gone as far as labelling it a violation of state sovereignty.

“We believe the Compact and the process that led to its adoption, including the New York Declaration, represent an effort by the U.N. to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of States to manage their immigration systems in accordance with their national laws, policies, and interests,” read a statement released by the U.S. on the eve of the conference.

But the U.N. insists that the compact is voluntary and cooperative, not legally binding, and fully respects the sovereignty of states. 

“The Global Compact respects the sovereignty of countries,” says U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.  “And I believe that, reading carefully the Compact, countries will be able to understand that there are no reasons to be worried about the Compact. And I am hopeful that in the future they will join us in a common venture to the benefit of their own societies of the world as a whole and of the migrants.”

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