Prevention of illegal migration among young people
It was Tuesday, July 30, 1999. Yaguine, 14 years old, and Fodé, 15 years old, are missing. No one knows where they are. At Yaguine’s grandmother’s house? At a friend of Fodé’s?
Yaguine’s dad found a letter in Yaguine’s room: “Dad, don’t worry. I’m going to my mom’s in Paris”. Then he finds the draft of the letter that will be found on August 2nd on the bodies of the 2 youngsters found dead from cold in the landing gear of a Sabena plane. This letter was addressed to the “members and leaders of Europe”, to cry out “for help” and implore them to “make a great and efficient organization for Africa to enable us to progress”.
Read their message here.
It was Wednesday, January 8, 2020…21 years later, history repeats itself. Like thousands of young Africans who try to emigrate illegally every year, Laurent Barthélémy, from Côte d’Ivoire, wanted to join Europe. Blinded by this dream of El Dorado, his ingenuity and energy to get on board this plane at all costs eventually cost him his life. He died at the age of 14, not imagining that the cold and the altitude would kill him for sure. Was it really recklessness, or was it a desperate act?
History repeats itself. We also remember the body found in London, fallen out of the undercarriage of a Kenya Airways plane, of the young Kenyan worker Paul Manyasi last July. The same causes, the same effects. African youth is in disarray, and many young people continue to seek dignified living conditions elsewhere at the risk of their lives.
No woman, no man makes the choice to voluntarily emigrate to the unknown, with no guarantee of finding a home, an income, decent living conditions. In general, people emigrate because they see no future at home. Are young Africans condemned to live with no other ambition than to emigrate? And for many of them, to risk their lives to do so, or to choose to commit themselves to radical causes? Are those who succeed the new “heroes” of their communities, who often ignore the extremely difficult conditions in which they are forced to live? The question is posed in these terms.
Why does the future of the African continent concern us all?
Let us remember that by 2050, there will be 2.7 billion inhabitants on the African continent and that this continent will therefore offer humanity one young person in four. They are therefore decisive actors in our common future: actors in the development of their countries, actors of change, particularly in the climate challenges, etc.
Migratory flows, natural and beneficial?
Contemporary archaeopaleontological studies, based on genetics, confirm that major migratory movements have existed since prehistory, from Africa to Europe for example, and that they continued during antiquity and after the Renaissance, in particular with the conquest of America by the European States.
The literature agrees that immigration is very useful. Economists are traditionally the great advocates of the arrival of migrants on the labour market.
IDAY also supports the actions carried out by other organisations on the need to respond to the right and freedom to come and go in a legal and secure framework for the populations of the “South” in the same way as the populations of the “North”.
The clandestine emigration of young people: how to talk about it?
Some data on education in the African context :
> Concerning education, sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the most out-of-school children and adolescents (respectively 31 million, or 52% of the total, and 24 million, or 39%).
> In 2018, the World Bank reports that despite undeniable efforts to increase enrolment figures, learning is not keeping pace. The results of pupils in sub-Saharan Africa are alarming and vulnerable populations are the most affected (poor children and young girls).
> A mostly catastrophic health situation and teacher absenteeism directly and negatively influence the quality of education.
> Africa remains the last continent where neither the number of poor people nor the number of illiterate young people is decreasing significantly. The average income in Africa is stagnating at 1/4 of the world average income and 1/9th of the average income of Western countries according to the OECD in 2016.
All this explains, in part, the irrepressible desire of young Africans to emigrate to countries considered richer and protective of human rights.
The clandestine emigration at the origin of the IDAY network?
IDAY is an African network which is interested in the causes of emigration and is concerned by the serious and often irreversible consequences of clandestine emigration. IDAY celebrates on December 1st in Flagey the 20th anniversary of the death of Yaguine and Fodé who inspired by their message the creation of the network.
On 2 August 1999, these two young Guineans, Yaguine Koita and Fodé Tounkara were found dead in the landing gear of a Sabena plane in Brussels. They were carrying a message for Europe.
They sacrificed themselves to draw the world’s attention to the dramatic fate of African youth and all those young people who come to die at the gates of Europe in search of dignified living conditions.
This message is at the origin of the creation of the network first in Guinea and now in 20 African countries.
IDAY asks the question why a part of the African youth thinks that it has no other choice than to risk its life to come and look for a better future with us? Of course, the global geopolitical context also contributes to the reasons that push young people to leave their country: the effect of globalization and the aberrations of trade agreements that negatively influence local economies, predatory policies that deepen inequalities, etc…
But one of the reasons for illegal immigration is also, in our opinion, that the process that can respond globally, sustainably and equitably to the needs of populations is too weak. This process is the one that consists in bringing together the 3 pillars essential to the development of any society around a constructive dialogue and a set of collective actions: governments, civil society and the private sector.
What is IDAY’s response?
IDAY offers local organisations the opportunity to network. It does this by
> allows civil society to organize and strengthen itself;
> encourages the authorities to get involved in locally thought-out actions;
> increases the effectiveness of foreign aid by adopting the principles of modern development philanthropy;
> Improves the quality of education through actions taken;
> raises awareness among young people of the risks of clandestine emigration and encourages them to be actors of change for their future.
What is the role of local civil society and African youth?
The “advanced” democracies that attract these young people know that it is imperative to support the efforts of home governments through more appropriate and effective cooperation, greater coherence between international development goals and economic policies, and stronger assistance to combat corruption in the management of national resources. Where do we stand?
The global geopolitical context is of course part of the reasons why young people leave their countries: the effect of globalization and the aberrations of trade agreements that negatively influence local economies, predatory policies that deepen inequalities, the sometimes unsustainable burden of debt and austerity or privatization policies, etc.
The fight against corruption is essential if socio-economic development is to take place. It is a cancer that undermines public service and aggravates human rights violations, preventing millions of children from going to school, and women from having the right to health care. Corruption is not only an ethical problem. Unbridled, it is a brake on development, a threat to the stability and credibility of public and private institutions.
A fledgling economy needs strong institutions, efficient public services and accountable government. Young people need to work and believe in the future of their country.
IDAY’s objective is to improve the quality of education of African youth in order to equip them to take part in the development of their continent. Quality education is a right for which the members of the IDAY network are mobilized through various actions and initiatives. It then becomes a force enabling African youth to respond to the challenges to which they are exposed.
Africa has the necessary resources, it is their allocation and use that must change and local civil society has a leading role to play in accompanying this change.
The members of the IDAY network, in each of the 20 countries that make it up, identify together the causes of dysfunctions in education in their countries and constitute an advocacy to sensitize their authorities on these issues.
Dialogue and trust between citizens and their governments are the cornerstone of development and respect for fundamental rights. Aware of this, the network calls on decision-makers and carries out actions to ensure that every child and young person in Africa enjoys his or her right to free quality basic education.
We believe that foreign aid becomes effective when it allows local people to implement their projects/actions and that, strengthened by their results, they conduct a constructive dialogue with their authorities so that together they can draw the Africa of tomorrow.
Civil society is getting organized: is it working?
The following are 3 examples of actions implemented at small, medium and large scales in which local civil society has organised itself to come up with common recommendations that have been taken into account by their authorities.
An example at the scale of one country, Togo :
An association member of the network identified a recurring problem in the villages. Villagers want to adopt abandoned or orphaned children to prevent them from migrating to the slums of the capital. An income-generating activity has been set up based on the villagers’ skills. In my example, they grow cassava. Foreign help was sought to rent a community field, a press and cassava products are sold in the markets so that they can support the school and daily expenses of the orphans. Local authorities have been encouraged to support this activity in which an entire community has been mobilized, which is income generating and becomes financially self-sufficient within 3 to 5 years after the start of the project. And they have made a larger community field available to the village. The village has obtained cooperative status and now has access to training provided by the Togolese government.
A region-wide example of the protection and training of domestic workers in East Africa :
1 million euro is the sum entrusted by the EU to 14 member associations of the network who wanted to work together on a hitherto little known theme: the protection of child and young domestic workers.
The project helped to highlight the specific issues related to child and young domestic workers. It has the merit of increasing understanding of the importance of protecting and caring for them.
It has contributed to raising the awareness of domestic workers, their employers, families, communities and local authorities for more social and legal protection.
In terms of impact, this project has begun to produce remarkable changes.
A continent-wide example is the fight against malaria in Africa :
The first one is an example that concerns the fight against malaria. As you know, malaria is a deadly disease that still kills a child every two minutes today. It is 425,000 cases of death per year, mainly in Africa. 210 million cases of malaria, malaria, and it is a disease that weighs very heavily on the GDP of countries.
There is a plant that cures and prevents malaria. This plant is called Artemisia annua. The Chinese have been using it for more than 2000 years against malaria. It is a member in Kenya who discovered its repellent, preventive and curative qualities against malaria. He integrated it into school gardens, taught young people how to grow it, and how to use it as an herbal tea. Teacher and student absenteeism has decreased significantly, medical costs have plummeted: the results have been spectacular, both in terms of health and the quality of the children’s education.
The strength of the network has worked and many members have been developing Artemisia projects for 10 years and the authorities are involved in the projects at different levels: Minister of Education in Cameroon encourages the distribution of a children’s book that talks about the plant (cultivation, dosage, …) / Local authorities in Uganda who, following the spectacular results in 7 schools, support the propagation in the 152 schools of the district / Minister of Health in Rwanda who organizes the distribution of Artemisia plants to each Rwandan family / …
Isn’t this a good example of a low-cost, local solution that in an official setting is being replicated on a large scale?
No, not all African governments are corrupt: we have concrete examples that show that a constructive dialogue between civil society and the authorities leads to major decisions, especially at the level of legal frameworks.
Brochure “Killing Charities, Together For A Modern Development Philanthropy”
Official development assistance granted to Africa in 2016 amounts to 22.8 billion euros according to the OECD. We are therefore entitled to ask ourselves the question of the effectiveness and efficiency of such a system.
Despite the size of the envelope allocated by the rich countries to the so-called poor countries, we have the feeling that these countries are “not taking off”.
What the literature says:
> In the classic development aid scheme, communication goes from top to bottom. Private or public donors choose countries of intervention, specific themes and target populations. Thus strategies evolve according to political decision-makers and do not allow for a long-term vision. They are also often far from the realities on the ground and exclude the citizens of the recipient countries from the decision-making process.
> Some authors say that private or public aid would replace the actions that governments should carry out, which encourages civil society to come and beg from generous donors and African youth to want to escape a bleak future.
> This substitution effect would therefore be particularly harmful, as it allows governments to divert local funds intended for education and health care to other purposes
Foreign aid increases the resources available to African governments, which in turn do not have to establish with their citizens a system in which some feed into the state budget that others use to develop services and institutions that enable them to develop their economies together.
Tips for improving aid efficiency> Act locally, think globally
> Listen First
> Serve rather than promote one’s own agenda
> Building on potential local strengths
> Designing projects that are not isolated but reproducible, involving recognition of fundamental rights by governments and association with companies
> Seek the least expensive solutions minimizing external input
> Favouring support for structural costs
> Strengthening collective responsibility
> Ensuring sound accounting and financial management
> Ensure the sustainability of the operation
> Stop measuring performance by amounts disbursed