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Youth Migration and population influence in todays world A form of Abandoned Home

July 7, 2011

Migration (defined as a ‘change of residence ‘across all administrative boundaries). Most scholars who write about migration recognize the very imperfect state of present day theoretical and empirical knowledge of the migration phenomenon. There is considerable agreement that the study of migration has been hampered by the grave deficiencies in migration theories which tend to be ‘time-bound, culture bound and descriptive bound’.

Young migrants comprise a growing percentage of the total number of migrants in the world. According to a report from the United Nations Population Fund, young people make up about a quarter of the total number of migrants worldwide. As the total number of international migrants increases, so does the number of children and youth that are affected by this global phenomenon.

Ghana is one of the populous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with an estimate total population of 22.6 million people as at 2007. Unfortunately, national development has been slow in many developing countries in Africa and parts of Asia and South America’s because of economic decline over the last few years which have led to the Immigration of its citizens. The economic situation in Ghana and other developing countries has also suffered, although some improvement has been seen recently. The number of poor people grew enormously during this period of economic decline. One reason for increasing in migration is the rapid population growth leading to poverty, which can dramatically slow down the developmental process. Most migration studies have eschewed generalization and have tended to be factual reports, describing the volume of the different movements revealed by the data, and where possible, the differential characteristics of the migrants.

Young people affected by migration can be found all over the world. To name some examples: Female victims of trafficking and young women sent off for marriage, Children forced to beg in tourist attractions Young girls who do the domestic work for better-off families in many developing countries (some of them hoping to save up money for marriage back home), Children sent from poor, rural areas to work in richer urban areas to help their families Children who suddenly find themselves as heads of parentless-household because their parents have migrated, and The children of migrants who belong, culturally speaking, both to their parents’ home and host countries. All these and more are major way young people engaged in migration.

Jammed into a commuter train in the rush hour recently on a visit to the United State of America, standing and swaying dangerously with the mass of my fellow passengers, I considered how inhuman the city is. A moment later, as the train rocketed towards the next station, the emergency brakes went on. If we hadn’t been so tightly packed in, all of us would have been thrown to the floor. As it was, my feet were stepped on, one arm was twisted and my back jabbed so hard by an elbow that I thought my spine would crack.

Irritated, I turned to the owner of the elbow. As I started to speak he murmured, “Terribly sorry, my friend.” Then, in a voice loud enough to be heard down the carriage, be announced, “Unscheduled stop. All changed for Good Nature.” There was a spontaneous burst of laughter. In no time there was almost a carnival spirit in that carriage. My friend of the sharp elbow had given all of us a glimpse of the city as it might be – good-natured, friendly, and human.

Because it involves a change from place of origin to place of destination, migration has both a separative and an additive effect and both aspects are relevant to an understanding of why people move.

The reason people crowd into cities is that cities provide jobs and educational opportunities, support libraries, museums, theatres, the making for truly rewarding living.  The trouble is, when we come to a large urban area, we forget to bring with us the most precious ingredient of life in a small place – humanness

Both births and deaths are clearly identifiable biological phenomena (although influenced by social and other non-biological factors) whereas migration (defines as a “change of residence” across all administrative boundaries) lacks this precision.

What priceless opportunities we are offered daily to make our cities pleasant places.

There is an old saying that what is everybody’s business is nobody’s business. Local Officials, the police, Clubs, Churches, schools and newspapers can’t do all that is needed to make a town habitable. They can help, but it is we ordinary citizens – all of us together – who create the spirit of a community.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “The only gift is a portion of thyself.” If, like many of us, you earn a living through some talent, skill or craft, why not share it?

Just like adults, young people that migrate on their own may do so within their own country (typically from rural to urban areas), to neighboring countries that are part of the same labour market, or in other cases, to richer and more distant countries.

Young people migrate on their own for any number of reasons, including fleeing abusive families, forced marriages, lack of schooling, discrimination, war and persecution. Additionally, they may leave their homes to be reunited with other family members who have migrated beforehand and as a result of pressure – both explicit and implicit – from other family members to contribute to the household income.

“I decided after Senior High School to work as a waiter in a restaurant some in Ghana. The two major considerations were that there would be one mouth less to compete for food and that I would earn extra money that would help my mother to purchase groceries.”

And, just like adults, the young also migrate because they want to improve their economic situation not only for themselves but also for their families.

“I wanted to earn some money because back home I had to ask my father to buy things for me and he couldn’t buy all the things I’d like to have.” This was a statement made by a 17-year old boy who left his village in the Northern Region of Ghana for a bigger city in Accra.

Young people who migrate alone are vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation, and may face legal difficulties related to their irregular immigration status.

While young migrants face many of the same issues that affect adult migrants, they face additional challenges as a result of their age.

First, children and youth who migrate are more susceptible to human rights abuses, such as labour exploitation, trafficking and physical abuse. Sometimes it is the children’s own families that may unwittingly help perpetuate abuses against them. For example, some Ghanaian families have unknowingly sent their children to work under abusive conditions in fishing villages, believing that their children would be well-treated and taught a useful trade. It gets to a point many migrant families cannot make ends meet unless their children also generate income. With few opportunities for meaningful work and education, many of these children become scavengers who look through rubbish dumps for recyclable materials

Second, children and youth who migrate may, at times, be treated as adults for legal purposes, effectively giving them less legal protection than they are entitled to based on their age. They may, for example be using false documents that state them to be older than they really are, or they may have been erroneously classified adults by immigration authorities.

For example, migrant children are sometimes not referred to child protective services because immigration officials mistakenly determine that they are older than is the case. To make matters worse, the Spanish government has on occasion repatriated unaccompanied children, subjecting them to further abuses in their home country. For instance, instead of being reunited with their families, some of these children are turned out onto the street and left to fend for themselves.

Third, although international human rights conventions list access to healthcare and education as fundamental rights, children and youth may be denied access to them for any number of reasons. In addition to language barriers, they may lack identification documents proving their eligibility for these services, or they may face arbitrary denial of these services by the officials in charge.

Furthermore, children who migrated with their families may not be able to take advantage of these services because their parents fear detection by the authorities or because their parents simply cannot afford to pay fees and expenses that may be associated with medical services or schooling.

No nation can afford the continual loss of its most brilliant and production minds without suffering severe economic consequences. Half of the nations of the world are so short of trained manpower that a university department may be forced to close when a professor leaves, children go untaught when a teacher moves, and thousands be deprived of medical attention when a doctor emigrates. One thing most national citizens forget is that professional people constitutes that sliver of the population which provides intellectual, cultural and political leadership without which the nation stagnates.

A major motivation in the flight of talent is the desire for an adequate income. “I love Ghana and would like to go back home,” was the comment of a 24 year – old emigrant I met on my recent visit to the United State of America, “But Ghana, wont afford to keep me”

Those who migrate from the Northern Part of Ghana to bigger cities in the country like Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast are attracted by the opportunities to work at factories or construction sites, or to sell food, water or crafts to the massive crowds of people, adding pressure to an already overwhelmed urban population. “When you go to Accra and Kumasi, the population is very dense, so when you are selling something like water they will buy it,” said 34 years old young man, who lives in HO and is unemployed. “Here the population is sparse and they don’t buy, or they can’t buy. And when you go to Accra they have a lot of factories there — we don’t have those factories here. In Accra you can surely find something small to do to bring some money.”

Of these men, there is the estimation that, less than one-third send money home from the migrating cities. They just leave their families; some can stay there for many years, maybe five to ten years even without coming home.

Some stay away because of lack of money and transportation, returning home only during holidays or funerals, if at all. But others shirk their responsibilities to their wives and children simply because they feel they can,

In several emerging nations, the problem is under-employment of professionals and untaught citizens, where professionals are those who has been able to successfully completed colleges and Untaught citizens are thus without any formal education. The enthusiasms with which government have plunged into ambitions educational programmes backfires

The children and young people that are affected by migration include those who migrate to other countries together with their families, those left behind by one or both parents because they migrated, and those who migrate on their own. Most young migrants come from developing countries, where young people make up about 30% of the population. They generally migrate alone or with their families, to better-off neighboring countries, or to developed countries.

One of the major advantages that children who migrate with their parents may experience is the improvement of their living standards, not just because of economic gains but also as the result of improved access to a better education and health services. Additionally, if the family remains united, the children and youth who immigrate will likely benefit from the stability that comes with being together with their parents.

But these children also face disadvantages. Migrant children may experience dangers in travelling to the country of destination, discrimination and exclusion, language barriers and difficulties in adapting to the new country’s culture while reconciling this with their own cultural background.

In addition to facing greater poverty rates, children of migrants may, depending on the residency and citizenship rules of their host and home countries, find themselves potentially stateless: ineligible for citizenship in either their host or home countries.

There is the need for private industries to be awakened to the long-range dangers involved in brain draining the rest of the world of it talented growing young adults. The best solution is to establish some of its engineering and scientific research facilities including factories in African developing nations to take advantage of surpluses of trained manpower to bridge the gab of influxes of migrants. I believe when it is done, it will in it sense stand to benefit everybody.

If economic momentum is to be reestablished and both males and females are to benefit from development, then both sexes must participate effectively in the development process of their country of origin. The barriers which make today’s youth to migrate for greener pastures must be removed and therefore enable them to contribute effectively to development of their countries.  The hypothesis of migrating to a developed country in today’s young adult has become the norm of the day all because of the Prospects and the quality of life.

If the most talented member of the poor country in Africa continues to be absorbed by richer countries, then we shall never achieve that development.

By Emmanuel Duker

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