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9/29: Youth Consultation on Migration and Development
Released 03 October 2009  By Youth Alive

Name: Youth Consultation on Migration and Development
Categories: Human Rights

Addressing international migration concerns has undoubtedly become a pressing issue in recent times, not only for governments but also for a broad range of society actors in the north and south countries/states. Over the past few decades, political, economic, social and demographic changes in many parts of the world have uprooted many people and stimulated migration to cities within and across countries. The growing volume of trade, faster and cheaper transport, and easier communication have allowed and encouraged more people to migrate within and across national borders.

Young people are particularly likely to migrate; out of an estimated 191 million international migrants globally in 2006, young people between 15 and 30 years of age comprised “a large share” – between 31 and 39 million migrants. Seeking better educational and employment opportunities and often relying on networks of migrant friends and family, youth face more pressure to migrate than other demographic groups. Rising numbers of youth in developing countries have led to high unemployment rates and lower wages. At the same time, At the same time, aging populations in developed countries require more young labor, creating apparent job opportunities for youth who have access to the information. Youth may keep in contact with friends and relatives who are part of existing migrant networks more easily through expanding access to information and communication technologies, heightening their own desire to migrate.

As the largest subgroup of migrants, youth shoulder both the benefits and the dangers of migration. Because many countries, particularly developed ones, restrict legal opportunities to migrate even in light of heavy labor demand, many young people continue to migrate using dangerous transportation methods and with scanty information about their destination, leaving them open to injury or exploitation. The past two decades, especially, have seen a dramatic increase in the trafficking of girls and young women, who are often lured into prostitution. Other young people who are impoverished and uneducated and who may be members of indigenous, ethnic minorities, rural or refugee groups are also vulnerable to this form of exploitation.

The Report of the Secretary-General on International Migration and Development (2006) calls for priority to be placed on:

1) When migrants have rights to social services and their rights as workers are protected, their integration is generally facilitated.

2) Most vulnerable persons in developing countries are generally women and young people (youth). Special attention is required for these two categories of people because they can seriously be at risk of exploitation or trafficking.

3) Young people need to be involved in migration and its effect on the development goals of countries and the world at large. They should be part of the discussions about how policies on migration affect the youth of today, and how they could better help to create the needed sustainable development that the world is hoping for.

Project Justification

Aside from sheer numbers, youth migration has become the subject of great controversy regarding the migration-development nexus. On the one hand, there is concern over the apparent ‘brain drain’ in the developing world as well-educated young people leave their home countries, attracted by improved educational and career prospects in the West. Between 50 and 80% of highly educated citizens from several small countries in Africa and the Caribbean live abroad.

On the other hand, remittances reached $223 billion in 2005 – a figure more than twice the level of international aid – and young migrants frequently return to their home countries equipped with skills, qualifications and economic resources.

Despite comprising a significant percentage of international migrants, young people largely lack the means to share their experiences. One UNFPA report laments that “little is known of the full diversity and complexity of young people’s international migration... Young people remain largely invisible in research, public debates and policy about international migration.”

Thee report highlight two specific issues: one, there is very little data on young migrants' experiences. Second, and partially as a result, young migrants often lack ways to contribute to global debates about the policies that affect them.

The consultation will therefore attempt to bridge the communication gap between youth and migration debates. This project provides a tangible link for young people willing to share their views and a policy development forum, allowing young people to share their views and giving policymakers a window into youth experiences. The consultation report will serve as a reference for other or future researchers as well.

In addition, the consultation will turn the lens on the communication gap itself. When can young migrants make use of the internet and other communication mechanisms to contribute to the discussion on migration and development? Echoing one of the guiding themes of the 2009 GFMD, how might both young migrants and communication technologies play a greater role in migration policy formation?

The 2009 GFMD organizers have sought to include more perspectives in the discussion through the use of similar online and web-based initiatives “to encourage and facilitate the interaction and wider participation of interested citizens, involved stakeholders, dispersed migrants and their organisations.” The online consultation led by YPWC will target youth in particular, recognizing their centrality to current migration dilemmas.

The Youth Consultation on Migration and Development initiative has four main goals:

1. To develop an improved understanding of global migration trends and its facets among young people at global, regional and national levels;
2. To encourage, promote and facilitate youth participation in debate and meetings on International Migration and Development;
3. To stimulate new thinking on broader issues of global migration;
4. To get the youth voice well organized and represented with key youth statements at the 2009 Global Forum on Migration and Development in Greece.

Best Regards
Youth Alive

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