International Migrants Day.. Dispelling Myths about African Migration

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Let’s set the record straight on African migration this International Migrants Day, which falls on December 18th. Established by the United Nations in 2000, this day is the perfect opportunity to challenge any misconceptions by revisiting the facts and figures.

International migration remains stable when adjusted for the global population. Currently, there are 280 million international migrants, individuals residing in a country other than their country of birth, constituting less than 4% of the world’s population. This percentage has remained unchanged since the 1960s.

Contrary to popular belief, there are more European migrants than African migrants. Despite a 30% increase in the number of African migrants to 40 million since 2010, European migrants are more numerous both in absolute terms and relative to their demographic weight. “Africa represents 16% of the world’s population, but only 14% of migrants. In contrast, Europe constitutes 10% of the world’s population, yet accounts for almost 24% of international migration,” highlights Flore Gubert, Research Director at the Institute of Research for Development and Deputy Director of the Convergences Migrations Institute.

Another distinctive feature of African migration is its predominantly intracontinental nature. West African migrants, for example, primarily move to other West African countries. “Out of 100 Africans leaving their country from West Africa, 70 tend to stay in Africa,” notes Flore Gubert. “The majority among these 70 prefer staying within the sub-region. Fifteen head towards Europe, and six towards North America.”

The primary motivations for African migration are predominantly economic, accounting for over 80%. This has positive implications for both the host country, addressing labor shortages, and the country of origin, receiving increasing remittances since 2021 in Africa (amounting to $50 billion annually). This figure is 1.5 times higher than foreign investments, which have declined during the same period.

Concerning illegal African migrants, the majority are individuals who initially entered with a visa but were unable to renew it. The proportion of African migrants embarking on makeshift boats to Europe is minimal. However, the number of casualties remains unacceptably high, with over 27,000 deaths or disappearances at sea over the past decade.

Soukaina Sghir

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