In September 2016, I was one out of 100 participants from 50 countries attending the IOM summer school on migration in Prague.
IOM, established in 1951, is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and has more than 100 offices worldwide. IOM joined the United Nations on September 19, 2016. The IOM Summer School was a great opportunity for me to gain more knowledge about migration theories and policies. I could discuss the root causes of racism and xenophobia with scientists and share interesting stories with people who work in NGOs, refugee camps and detention centers worldwide.
Societies change continuously. Human beings migrate, they adopt, they change, they evolve, they create new cultures. Every history museum is telling us these facts.
However, many people are racists. They dislike foreigners, they vote populist and nationalistic politicians and consume media outlets that are full of hate and xenophobia.
Especially since a big amount of refugees and migrants arrived in Europe in August 2015, racist attacks are on the rise and populist parties gain more and more followers.
I am strictly against racism and xenophobia, and decided to write my next blog posts about my time in Prague. I want to share some facts with you about migration, the root causes of racism in Europe and the situation of migrants and refugees in different parts of the world. Here are some common myths about migration:
1. There is a refugee crisis in Europe.
There is no refugee crisis in Europe. A crisis is a problem that can be solved over time. But migration is a never-ending process. Humans will always move to the places with the best living conditions because they want to have a comfortable life and make sure that their children grow up in a peaceful, stable environment. Right now, the most-desirable places are in the West and the Gulf countries. But this will change over time.
This means that what we currently experience in Europe is only the symptom of a structural problem created by inequality. It shows the big gap between rich and poor countries.
People migrate because of war and poverty. They get no help from their corrupt governments and the international community.
As long as Western governments keep on sending weapons and soldiers to Asia and Africa, they create more misery, terror and poverty every day. The rich countries make poor countries dependent on their products and aid, and get access to resources at the same time.
2. We need closed borders to stop migration.
It does not make sense to close borders. Poor and desperate people will always find ways to enter richer countries.
The real winners of closed borders are SMUGGLERS. They do not care if people die on the way to rich countries. If the borders are closed, human trafficking increases and more people will enter other countries through informal channels.
3. Migrants take away jobs.
Migrant workers often hold low-skilled and low-paid jobs. Many of them work as house-keepers, maids, construction workers, or they open their own shops and businesses, selling services and products from their home countries.
Local companies and employers profit from migrant workers. They can fill un-wanted job positions with migrant workers. Migrant-run businesses often employ locals as well. Both cases stimulate economic growth that again creates new jobs for the local population.
Companies and private persons prefer to hire undocumented migrants, because the procedure is easier and they can pay lower wages. In fact, many governments quietly tolerate this practise. Therefore, locals should be outraged with their governments instead of blaming migrants.
4. Illegal migration can be stopped.
As long as we live in a capitalistic system, illegal migration cannot be stopped. Companies desire undocumented, foreign workers. They are cheap, flexible and more obedient because they are not protected by the law.
And we all profit from illegal migration. We buy products and services produced by illegal immigrants because as long as it is cheap or trendy, we do not care who made it. For example, many men pay undocumented prostitutes for sexual services, families hire maids from poor countries, restaurants employ cooks and service personnel without papers.
5. Migrants are poor and uneducated
Poor people cannot afford to migrate over long distances and are too sick or too weak to survive the journey. A certain level of education and access to the media is needed to plan the trip to a foreign country.
In fact, more development of poor countries leads tomore migration. That’s why the most flexible workforce in the world consists of managers, business owners, and government officials. If they move to another country, they are called expats, but they are migrants. The significant difference is their privileged status.
This map shows that the biggest amount of people who moved to a European country in 2015 are Europeans themselves, instead of people from Africa and Asia.
– map by World Economic Forum