The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has launched a report featuring migration which says that Africa has been perceived as a source of refugees and that it is hurting the continent’s positive images.
Launching “migration for structural transformation” – a flagship report of UNCTAD for this year – Mukhisa Kituyi (PhD), secretary-general of UNCTAD, told reporters on Thursday that the narratives of involuntary migrations have been negatively associated with Africa. He argued that media reports and the populist propagators have gauged campaigns that undermined the contributions of migrants in the destination economies. He added that the rightist mentality in Europe has misleadingly mixed migrants with refugees.
“Migrants have a positive impact on the economies of the countries they migrate to since they bring many skills with them,” Kituyi said.
According to Vera Songwe (PhD), executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), blame shifting is part of the stereotypes and xenophobic attacks directed towards international migrants, specifically Africans. She recalled that economic contractions and loss of incomes as a result of the 2008 global economic crises had contributed to such motives in the West. Hence, when people in Europe could not blame their financial institutions for messing up their livelihoods, they started to blame others, which includes migrants, Songwe argued.
For nearly five years, unemployment rate in Europe reached up to 23 percent and that triggered xenophobic attacks against migrants, Songwe said.
In addition to that, there are 21 African countries currently riddled with political and economic crises contributing to migration.
Having the facts compiled, both Kituyi and Songwe argued that Africa has been misrepresented in the migration debates. Songwe said that the share of African migrants in the global scene has declined between 2000 and 2017. In 2000, Africa’s share was three percent and in 2017, that figure dropped slightly to 2.7 percent. In fact, the unfounded claim that Europe is the most favored destination for African migrants is a myth, Kituyi said. He substantiated that argument with figures from the report. Accordingly, out of the 41 million international migrants, 19 million have resided in Africa. Though, 17 million have left the continent, 5.5 million are accounted for immigrating from the rest of Africa, the secretary general noted.
The findings of the report show that more than 53 percent of Africa’s international migrants in 2017 actually have stayed in the continent, counterclaiming Africans migrating to Europe. The report also highlighted the contributions of African international migrants in terms of sending remittances, creating business ventures and the like. Remittance inflows into Africa rose from USD 38.4 billion in 2005 to 2017 to USD 65 billion in the years 2014 to 2016.