UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, speaking in Abuja at the launch of “Scaling Fences, Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe”/Photo: UNDP

Africa’s failures drive irregular migration of youth – deputy UN chief

UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, has pointed to development failures in Africa as the factor leading young people to seek greener pasture in Europe.

Mrs Mohammed, a former minister in the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, made the remark while launching the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report “Scaling Fences, Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe”, in Abuja, on Monday. She called on the country to aim higher for hope to flourish at home.

She explained that the report shines a light on issues relating to irregular migration in Africa. “This report gives voice to more than 3,000 irregular migrants, people who left their homes across 39 African nations and travelled to Europe in search of a better life.

“Prominent among this group were men and women from Nigeria; who, like their peers, embarked on difficult journeys not to seek asylum or because of persecution, but because, as they themselves say, their ambition had outpaced the opportunities available in their home country.

Ambassador Amina Mohammed (3rd from right), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (2nd from right), Sunday Dare, Fesderal Minister for Youth and Sports (4th from right) and other dignitaries a the launch of report/Photo: UNDP


“The people featured in this study are not the poorest of the poor.  They are the “springboard generation” — beneficiaries of two decades of remarkable development progress in Africa.”

The UN chieftain added that while irregular migration had received enormous political and media attention, the voice of the migrants on why they move and what they experience often go unheard.

She pleaded with the government to raise the level of creativity, ambition and pace of Africa’s economic transformation and socio-political development.

“This new report challenges governments and policymakers in Africa and Europe to really see and hear a group of people who are more often spoken of than listened to.

“Yet these bright, ambitious young people share a perception that opportunities to fulfil their aspirations at home are closed. This perception is held so profoundly that it has driven many to reject their known circumstances in favour of a potentially perilous and irregular journey to an unknown future in Europe.”

Mrs Mohammed stated: “This brings us to a core message of the study, migration is a driver of development but it is also an indicator of incomplete development, and particularly of a development trajectory that is failing young people.  It is time for us as a country, and as a global community, to aim higher, so that human development launches today’s and future generations into the fullness of its potential.

“Hope is the commodity too many bright, ambitious, young Africans are going to dangerous lengths to pursue.  We must support the conditions for that hope to flourish at home.  And in parallel, we must ensure that those who choose to leave can do so through pathways that reduce their risk to abuse, violence, exploitation or worse.”

Kola Tella

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