Immigration is where individuals move away from their native countries and seek to settle in other countries out of need, war, and other negative factors that may push them to seek refuge elsewhere. Immigration happens when individuals leave their native countries to go to other nations whose citizenship they lack, to settle, or become naturalized. Immigration is, in this light, different from emigration. Emigration is where individuals permanently leave their native countries to live in another country. Immigration is moving away from one’s native country, and emigration is permanently leaving one’s country. Most often than not, immigrants will end up as refugees in their destination countries where they are required to make asylum applications and wait for their cases to be considered. Each individual case is considered separately, and the results can vary significantly for different individuals. Nations will accept some refugees and asylum seekers, and others deported back to their home countries. Nations and regions reserve the right to deny or accept asylum applications as per jurisdictional law or international law.
What We’ll Discuss On This Article:
- Third-World Countries
- Destination Countries
- Bad Governance
- Fleeing Persecution
- Long-term Solutions
- Seeking Asylum
- National Responsibility
The world’s countries are divergent in that they are different in their economic prowess, social norms, religion, and governance. This inequality or a lack of par means that some nations have done well compared to others in terms of ensuring a better quality of life for their citizens. Depending on the roots of a nation, its formation, history, and values, some nations have, over time, become global leaders or what we refer to as first-world countries. Excellent examples include the United Kingdom and the United States. Nations can be categorized as first, second, or third-world nations. These designations are accorded as per the various facilitations that nations afford their citizens. A global perspective and these designations ensure that all countries understand the need for cooperation and globalization to ensure that the global community is inclusive and interdependent. Nations can grade themselves, their place in the global space, and find ways to better their designation. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund, IMF, are vital economic institutions or organizations that help rank nations in economic, fiscal, monetary policy, and overall development.
Nations such as Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and many others have continually been ranked third-world nations. On top of such a designation, they are also categorized as warring countries or nations at war. In the last decade or so, Libya is such a country gripped by war. Nations that are at war, be it a civil war or war with external entities are the main contributors to the influx of immigrants. Factors such as war and poverty are what is referred to as push and pull factors for immigration. In ideal situations, everyone would be content, peaceful, and happy in their own countries, and there would be more people emigrating than immigrating. Unfortunately, the world is not a utopia. More and more people find themselves in a position where they cannot stand the current factors in their native or home countries and opt to leave to seek a better future elsewhere. As seen in strongman syndrome, some leaders are authoritarian and have continually oppressed their citizens in a way that denies them social justice and fundamental human rights. When such leadership has propagated or participated in a war, citizens suffer the most and lack access to food, shelter, healthcare, education, and other necessities and rights.
A majority of citizens in such nations are the young, and some were born after the war started. They have grown to have their own children while the same war continues to ravage the nation, as is Afghanistan’s case. War heavily impacts the quality of life in a country and heavily reduces life-expectancy while increasing mortality rates. You can imagine what a terrible plight war is for children. Some children never get the opportunity to attend a school, get educated, or lead normal peaceful lives. War also has long-term mental health effects, and nations such as Afghanistan have seen increased drug abuse due to the trauma of being at war for decades. The after-effects of war necessitate therapy and mechanisms to defeat addiction and the adverse effects of trauma. Most citizens will likely suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, and, therefore, need cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT.
On the other hand, nations that have historically done well economically and have afforded their citizens high living standards and a better quality of life are destination countries for immigrants. Immigration is like a see-saw where the push and pull factors come to play. These factors contribute or take away from the number of immigrants trying to reach a destination country or region. Destination countries are peaceful nations whose values, governance, and tenets have been developed over centuries. They are nations with stable and egalitarian governments and those that believe in pragmatic and citizen-centered governance. Even as some leaders of these nations continually portray the strongman syndrome, like Trump in the U.S, destination countries are generally well-led.
Such nations’ governments ensure that all citizens are afforded and accorded their fundamental human rights and freedoms, including freedom of speech, ensuring there is no censorship. These nations are also economic powerhouses meaning that their employment rates are high and unemployment rates low. As such, destination nations and regions are seen as proliferated with opportunity and tied to a promise of a good life, a proper standard of living, and a better quality of life. Destination countries include the U.S, U.K, Germany, France, Spain, and Europe as a whole. These are nations and regions that are drivers of the global economy and play a significant role in the global scene regarding policy, governance, and investment.
Immigrants will do anything possible to reach a destination country, hoping for a better future. Immigration is a promise, a misconstrued promise that when individuals leave their country, they have a better chance of leading a prosperous and more fulfilling life in another country. Immigrants realize too late that this promise is a lie and that, indeed, immigration is a calamity. Hundreds, if not thousands of immigrants lose their lives every year while trying to cross seas to reach destinations such as Europe. Even in South America, people will do all they can to leave places like Cuba that are led by communist or socialist governments. As seen last year, there have been droves and droves of people from all over South America, including Guatemala, Venezuela, and Mexico, trying to cross the Southern border into the United States. You can imagine the toll of such an exodus on the immigrants. Most of these immigrants are fleeing organized crime, poverty, societal breakdown, and oppression by their governments.
A case in point is Venezuela that has for two to three years now been in a political crisis and extreme poverty due to the failing policies of Maduro’s socialist government. For about three years now, activists and members of the opposition have called for and attempted to instigate a Maduro ouster with no avail. The consequences of the political crisis have been a standoff that has led to human rights abuses and alleged crimes against humanity. The Maduro government has systematically denied citizens’ rights and have used their police force to clamp down on protestors. There has also been censorship, and numerous people, especially protestors, have been disappeared and allegedly killed by the regime.
In such a situation, and when the people of a nation can no longer bear persecution, war, poverty, or social ruin, they opt to carry what they can; and undertake several-thousand-miles journeys to countries or regions where they feel that they may have a chance at a better life. International law grants individuals who have significant reason facilitation to seek asylum in other nations, as per the various antecedents agreed between nations. The United Nations has continually played a crucial role in ensuring that it brings together the world’s nations to agreements and accords that guide international facilitation. Regional bodies such as the European Union have also been a mechanism for regions to present unified solutions to their common problems. When several nations come together to present and chart a unified path, they strengthen each other and the world by ensuring equality, respect for the rule of law, economic empowerment, innovation, and the sharing and appreciation of values. Unfortunately, in some instances, when nations are lumped together into a regional body, they may collide in terms of their views and the compromises they are willing to make to find a way to tackle societal issues such as immigration. The E.U is an excellent example. It has struggled to unify member nations on immigration and the various ways to tackle it.
The situation is so bad that for about a week or two this month, immigrants have had to sleep rough on the streets of the Greek town of Lesbos; after the Moria refugee camp went up in flames. It is so disheartening to see children and mothers sleeping on the streets in a continent regarded as the epitome of human civilization and prowess. The situation in Lesbos and other places on European shores has exemplified a complete failure of the E.U and individual nations in tackling the issue of immigration. Immigrants have continually been denied entry to Europe at islands such as Lampedusa. Some have had to spend weeks stranded on the Mediterranean sea before they are allowed to disembark the rescue ships. The refusal for embarkation has meant that these immigrants have remained on rescue ships for more than a fortnight without food and in the rough sea. Such conditions have heavily inflicted their mental health and the health of the vulnerable ones among them, including children and pregnant women.
Unfortunately, most of these immigrants are people who have spent almost a year crossing the Sahara desert, in a trek to reach Libya and then to embark on the deadly journey of crossing the Mediterranean sea to Europe. Others have entered Europe through Turkey or the Syria-Turkey border, as they escape the Middle East and war-torn nations such as Syria and Yemen. They are individuals and families fleeing war, face danger and the risk of death during their journey, and then on reaching their destination, put in camps forcing them to live in squalid conditions. Conflict resolution should be a major topic of discussion when it comes to finding ways to prevent immigration. Immigrants should get afforded proper accommodation regardless of their origins. The situation is likely to worsen in the current pandemic and lockdown, and host nations should do their best to grant the refugees food, shelter, and even a vaccine when one becomes available for COVID-19, as part of promoting health. Numerous N.G.Os have done all they can to help and should get lauded for their efforts. When we help each other, we show our inner beauty. May God bless all those who have helped and accommodated refugees all over the world.
Problems as complex as immigration and asylum-seeking should not be ignored or disregarded as efforts to put immigrants into refugee camps, as seen in Moria’s case, are only band-aids to the overarching problem. Analysts have suggested having a framework to accommodate immigrants equally for all European nations, where every country would take in a certain number of immigrants and naturalize them or at least accept their asylum requests. Unfortunately, there have been divergent views on the matter, and places such as the Greek Islands or entry points through the Mediterranean shores have had to deal with an influx of immigrants that grows every year. A probable solution would be to find places that immigrants can get housed, such as sparsely populated areas, where refugees can be appropriately housed and accommodated as part of a long term solution. By creating economic activities in such places and a spirit of accommodation, refugees, including political refugees, can be accommodated in these and other transitory areas awaiting asylum consideration.
The nations in that region, such as European nations, can then find ways to speed up asylum applications and put in place mechanisms to ensure better and more humane ways to deal with the immigration problem. There is also the argument that when the native countries of immigrants get stabilized, and their human rights and basic needs met, they are less likely to be motivated to risk the journey to places like Europe or the U.S. In some situations, this is true, and such facilitation would discourage immigration. However, in places such as South America, where there are notorious drug cartels and a lot of organized crime, stabilizing the nations would be tantamount to rooting out the drug problem. Unfortunately, when governments try to do this, there is a drug war, and numerous citizens get killed in the cross-fire. Other nations such as Libya are nations where a lot of foreign influence has curtailed stability, as numerous global powerhouses and influential countries have funded, armed, and supported warring factions. The result is constant civil war and the propagation of immigration into Europe. It is quite hypocritical for European nations to help propagate war in Libya, and then deny entry to immigrants and refugees fleeing that same war.
Immigration is a problem that will not go away anytime soon. Governments globally and regional bodies such as the U.N and E.U should chart a way forward through agreement and consensus. All nations should accept the responsibility that comes with immigration and play their role as a member country of the global community by ensuring that they humanely accommodate immigrants and refugees. There is no point in denying refugees’ human rights, and it is a misdeed that should not be propagated but condemned. Immigration should also be discouraged through the incentivization of remaining in one’s native country. This means that nations should be empowered to empower their people by finding ways to avoid corruption and impunity, the global community through Non-Governmental Organizations or N.G.Os can find ways to ensure that aid reaches all citizens of individual nations. Authoritarian, oppressive, and corrupt leaders or leaders suffering from the strongman syndrome should be prosecuted under international law for their wrongs and as an example to other global leaders. The International Criminal Court or I.C.C, is a capable and internationally mandated court to listen to, judge, and prosecute those who commit crimes against humanity and deny others their human rights. Leaders should always remain responsible, and citizens should remain vigilant and speak up against and condemn impunity, corruption, authoritarianism, and a disregard for the rule of law.
Immigration should get dealt with willfully and in a humanitarian way by capable national and regional governments. There is also the need for a culture shift away from the inherent belief that they will automatically succeed when one moves to a particular country or region. Such notions are misleading and can even lead people to leave their native countries as immigrants to other nations. There is also the risk to personal security as people who have left their countries as immigrants are likely to fall victim to organized crime, human trafficking, and even slavery. Even those who move from their home countries to seek jobs elsewhere are at risk of being stranded in their host countries without food, shelter, and employment. Such individuals can be led to crime or even prostitution and sex work for women. Educating people to stay in their home nations would empower them to buy-in to the love yours way of thinking and not take a chance with immigration. It would also prevent brain-drain and distribute knowledge and expertiseequitably.
As Africans, we should educate fellow Africans that life here in Africa is good enough and can be better. There is a part of epigenetics at play with the belief that Africa is inferior. Such a notion is misguided, and all of us should recognize that we are enough and capable of becoming global leaders in governance, human rights facilitation, and economic prowess. If we believe in ourselves and our nations, we can usher in a new age of prosperity, higher living standards, good governance, peace, and economic leadership. Africa is at the cusp of a new prosperous era, and we need to believe in ourselves and lay the foundations for such success. We should all play our parts, hustle, develop our crafts, and be brave in business, arts, and attracting investments. We are a capable continent, and our potential is much greater than that of any other continent on the planet. We are Africans in Africa, and we are capable of being the best.