of the world have been asked to open their borders to migrants, and see
their nations experience more development. This call was the central
theme of the 2009 Human Development Report, published by the United
Nations Development Programme released recently.
report themed: “Overcoming Barriers: Human Mobility and Development”
argued that removing barriers to migration would greatly help migrants
to improve their life chances, ensuring that they have access to the
different indices with which development is measured and do not remain
in abject poverty.
According to the
report, migration is a fact of life in recent years, whereby people
move from one geographical location to others, many times over long
distances and between different regions. As thus, the flow of migration
could be from the South to the North, whereby people from Africa, the
Caribbean, and South Asia move towards the United States, Europe and
Australasia in search for greener pastures. Migration may even be
within the borders of a country.
migrants have been faced with different challenges, especially such
policies that limit the opportunities they can assess in their
destination countries. This, the report said, must change.
the reasons for migration, the report says: “For many people around the
world, moving away from their home town or village can be the best –
sometimes the only – option open to improve their life chances.”
there is as yet no typical profile of migrants around the world, it is
a fact that all manners of people, ranging from the skilled to the
unskilled, at one time or the other seek a break from their situations
and explore what is possible for them outside their own countries.
Economic conditions, conflicts, whether civil or political, as well as
insecurity have made people to seek solace in other lands apart from
their own. Yet many are still trafficked.
the fact that there are policies that restrict the entrance of people
into other countries and such strict measures being observed before
people could get access to other countries have made the issue of
illegal migration more conspicuous in recent times. Many people,
especially youths from developing countries including The Gambia, have
been lost to this tidal sway of illegal migration.
rather than meet the all rosy life that had propelled them to leave
their home in the first place, migrants are sometimes met with
hostility in the form of an environment, both policy and physical which
militate against their survival.
there have been myths held by locals that migrants are the causes of
many of their social problems, the 2009 HDR argues that rather than
this, “migrants boost economic output, at little or no cost to locals.”
It said that as they acquire the local language and necessary skills
needed to survive in their host countries, migrants tend to move up the
economic ladder, they tend to integrate quite more naturally.
According to it, human development could be really helped if countries remove all barriers to movement. “Large
gains to human development can be achieved by lowering the barriers to
movement and improving the treatment of movers. A bold vision is needed
to realize these gains.”
argues that admissions and treatment of movers constitute the two most
important dimensions of the mobility agenda, which would not only be
the concerns of government but also of non state actors like the
private sector, unions, non governmental organizations and individual
“While policy makers
face common face common challenges, they will of course need to design
and implement different migration policies in their respective
countries, according to national and local circumstances,” it said,
noting that despite this, certain good practices still stand out and
could still be more widely adopted.
necessity of a ‘joint force’ to protect migrants is necessary as the
world has witnessed xenophobic attacks against migrants in recent
times. Attacks on foreigners in South Africa in recent times are
pointer to the necessity of instituting special frameworks that would
protect foreigners. This evidently would require a measure of
commitment from the host governments. Apart from institutionalizing
peace within the country itself, it would also go a long way in
establishing diplomatic ties between countries.
of the above, however, some host countries have encouraged an
atmosphere of inequality between locals and foreigners by maintaining
de facto barriers to movement. The report noted specifically that
restrictions take the form of reduced basic service provisions and
entitlements against migrants.
says: “While not a substitute for broader development efforts,
migration can be a vital strategy for households and families seeking
to diversify and improve their livelihoods, especially in developing
“Governments need to
recognize this potential to integrate migration with other aspects of
national development policy.… Advancing this agenda will require
strong, enlightened leadership coupled with a more determined effort to
engage with the public and raise their awareness about the facts around
While the report dissociates
itself from a wholesome campaign for liberalization of international
mobility, it notes that “people relate to each other in myriad ways and
that their moral obligations can operate at different levels. “This
is primarily because individuals don’t belong to just one society or
group. Rather than being uniquely or solely defined by their religion,
race, ethnicity or gender, individuals commonly see themselves through
the multiple prisms of a set of identities.”
act in the manner above would afford migrants increased opportunities
to try their capacities in diverse areas, thus contributing their quota
to both their personal development and that of their host countries. The report concludes by suggesting policy and institutional reforms.
suggested reforms to government policies and institutions could bring
about sizeable human development gains from mobility at home and
abroad. Advancing this agenda will require committed leadership,
extensive consultation with stakeholders and bold campaigning for
changes in public opinion to move the debates and policy discussions