Yves Gazzo : Some thoughts on migration

Nowadays we tend, in Europe, in France, simple citizens or political leaders, to comment, to dissert, to oppose, on the theme of human migrations: danger or contribution for our post industrial and aging societies, but who remain attractive for those who are looking for an El Dorado, a simply better world; at the risk of making us forget that the migrations are multiple, that they concern fields varied above all and that they are evolutionary, in the space and the time even if certain constants are to emphasize here and there and that the untimely statements of political leaders on this subject is more a question of posture than of the real possibility of controlling migratory flows.

The diversity of types of migration

There are very different types of migrations: those that are well known to animals with the long movements of birds, animals roaming freely, the occupants of the seas; who among us did not admire the beauty of flamingos or wildebeest in East Africa, geese from Canada to the United States, whale sharks in the goubet of Djibouti? But often some viruses emerge, travel too and represent real dangers for the inhabitants of this planet. Migrations of information, works of art, political systems, finances (remittances from emigrants to their country of origin) etc.
These varied themes, with the migratory phenomenon in common will be the subject of various communications within the Academy of Sciences of Overseas of which I hold the presidency, without forgetting the human migrations, subject of which I wish to talk to you today

Human migration today: a strong movement that is not about to stop

Between 2000 and 2015 the number of migrants jumped to a total of 244 million people living outside their country of origin in the world, according to United Nations sources. Of these, 60 million are migrants and refugees outside their country of origin and about 6 million are “stuck” in a country or transit area; 1 in 112 people is either a refugee or an asylum seeker or an internally displaced person. The hazardous management of these populations has also contributed to the creation of “long-term” refugee camps. Today, there are 32 refugee camps that have been in existence for more than 25 years, and these temporary settlements are destined to become permanent cities, yet lacking infrastructure and economic activities worthy of the name.
It is interesting to note that despite the sharp increase in the number of migrants in absolute terms, the proportion of international migrants has remained stable for 60 years and stands at around 3% of the world’s population. One of the reasons for this stability being the high cost of travel for the departing candidate; a family often saves for 10 years to finance a departure; since 2000 it is estimated that the cost of these trips amounts to 15 billion euros, which has mainly benefited the smugglers.

Different characteristics of migratory flows

Migratory flows are organized

The emigration of fifty million Europeans to the United States at the end of the nineteenth and at the beginning of the twentieth century is a good illustration of this organization because the candidates at the start used structured circuits; current currents confirm it (emigration from Kayes to Mali etc …) hence the use of “roads” by smugglers. The same goes for the geographical origin of migrants: after the year “Syrian” in the broad sense (Afghans etc …), it seems that we are witnessing a year (s) (s) ) (preferably in 2016, 93% of the migrants arriving in Italy are from Africa) following the closure of the Balkan route and thanks in particular to the interested cooperation of the Turkish authorities have minted their role of “border guard”; the figures show that in 2016 it was Italy that received these migrants who passed through Libya (181,000) ahead of those passing through the Aegean Sea (175,000 migrants) 56,000 Syrians found stranded in camps in Greece.

The nationalities of migrants evolve

Among the nationalities of migrants arriving in Italy, 9 of the top 10 nationalities are from Africa (the exception being Bangladeshis). Nigerians represent the highest quota of Africans; the reason for this influx is related to the economic situation in Nigeria and there are those of migrants who can claim the right of asylum (Eritreans, Sudanese, Ethiopians) and those who are pushed to emigration for economic reasons (Nigerians, Guineans and Ivorians in particular).

The difficulty of making a clear distinction between asylum and economic refugee, tomorrow “climate”

If the Geneva Convention proposes a strict definition of the right of asylum (it individualizes persecutions, that is to say it is not enough to belong to an ethnic group, to a category including religious, threatened, it is necessary that the person provides evidence that he / she is being persecuted, the other applicants fall into the category of economic migrants, but how can one prove that one is an asylum seeker if one’s house, one’s city has been destroyed without being included in the definition? As a result, today’s migration is “mixed”, a mixture of persecution and the pursuit of economic and social well-being.

Migration and demography: the case of Africa and the Sahel in particular

In 2015, migrants from sub-Saharan countries accounted for only 10% of migrants and most of these 32 million were in neighboring countries in Africa, while a minority, 9 million according to IOM, managed to come to one of the countries of the European Union. However these figures, these percentages could change rapidly given the population explosion observed in Africa in the Sahel countries in particular.

If current trends continue, sub-Saharan Africa is projected to grow from 1.2 billion people to 2.5 billion in 2050, equivalent to a quarter of the world’s population; Africa is the only continent in the world in the history of humanity that has experienced such a demographic explosion: between 1950 and 2050 the African continent will have seen its population multiplied by 10 and its urban population by 20; moreover, every year 17 million young Africans generally, poorly or poorly trained, present themselves on a not very wide labor market (PH Hugon: Africas: between power and vulnerabilities “paris A colin 2016), the Sahelian countries they are expected to grow from 89 million inhabitants in 2015 to 240 in 2050 and 540 in 2100. The only Niger could have 200 million inhabitants in 2100 against 40 today, if nothing changes, the Sahel should contribute one-third of world population growth in 2050. These trends obviously do not take into account the elements accompanying any overpopulation, namely wars, epidemics, pandemics, famines, departures.

There are also other ways to better control the ongoing population explosion through well-understood family planning. If we lend to Houari Boumedienne the sentence he would have pronounced in 1967 “no atomic bomb could stop the hungry masses of the south attracted by the rich pastures of the north” (introduction to my course on the contemporary Arab world Sciences Po, Paris , 3rd cycle) and a little later, in 1974 at the Conference of Non-Aligned Countries in Bucharest “the best pill is development”. Algerian leaders have meanwhile returned to the subject and have set up a family planning system.

Moreover, according to studies conducted by Professor Hugon on youth in Africa, there is a large part of the middle class in Africa (considered as such as soon as the daily income exceeds two euros per day! ) a tendency to break out of the infernal cycle of poverty / large family / dependence of the family clan such as living in separate residences downtown, having two to three children per family, opt for monogamy, work for both spouses etc …) . But this trend remains embryonic and again, if everything continues in the state, the 3 to 4 million Sahelians who emigrated to Europe since independence will increase to 40 million by the end of the century. Recent studies indicate that if in the short term the development of a given country makes it possible initially to enlarge the base of people of more means, these means are used to finance the migratory project; it is only in a second time that the desire for emigration falls; all this on the condition that democracy and economic growth are at the rendezvous and that galloping demography loses intensity (Maryline Baumand “African migration: the challenge of tomorrow, the Youth and Leaders Summit, 2017 at Sciences Po) Faced with these challenges what do the host countries?

The actions of the European Union

Without going into the details of the current programs and beyond the divisions of the quarrels between Member States on the subject, the European Union has put in place complementary measures to each other without guarantee on their lasting and positive effect: security of the maritime borders with FRONTEX, Sophia, EURNAVFOR etc … provision of a Trust Fund of 1, 8 billion euros available to finance sustainable development actions (employment for young people, training, good governance, programs to recycle and discourage smugglers in the transit countries, Agades in Niger etc …) with moreover agreements with the countries in first line (North Africa, Libya etc ..) so that these countries block or at least, help to regulate migratory flows to the European Union etc … This, while knowing the risks of blackmail from the “associated” countries (as for example, Erdogan’s Turkey). Some people will complain about the low amounts of the Trust Fund, its sprinkling (28 eligible countries!) Or the lack of family planning programs, certainly always difficult to admit when they are not “internalized” by the country concerned with, in addition, the religious factor which should not be neglected

The religious factor

The Sahelian countries are predominantly Muslim and by lived experience (Chad, from 1969 to 1971, Niger, from 1973 to 1974, Mali, from 1988 to 1990) it is not always easy to approach the demographic problem in a serene way and frank without any ulterior motives being lent to his interlocutor. Similar behaviors are found in countries with a conservative Catholic tradition (Rwanda before the genocide), etc .; because religion is often used or diverted for political ends, power, domination or even exclusion. In another register I would mention the support to Ethiopia requested by the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church during the official visit of PM Meles in 2001, under the pretext that the two churches are close (Ethiopian and Russian) but also because Pushkin is a quadrant of Ethiopian. This “proximity” played its part in the support provided by the Russians to Ethiopians as part of the Ethiopian government’s fight against Somali Islamists.

The “substitute” Serbs of the Austro Hungarian Empire, disappointed by the broken promise to integrate them into the regular army, the Austro Hungarians emigrated to the country of “the sweet orthodoxy”, Russia (“migrations” of Milos Tsankievich ed Julliard) where the strong ties between Russia and Serbia persist to the present day; in the same vein when Cyprus had to go through the caudine forks of the adjustment plan of the IMF and the European Union, the latter was accepted by the Cypriots forced to avoid that the Russians put the 10 billion euros needed because there too it was a matter of sending the elevator back to the Cypriots: during communism in the former USSR it was the Cypriot Orthodox Church that helped the Russian Church to survive etc.

This cultural-religious factor is not to be neglected; if Sahelian migrants have reasons to migrate massively to the European Union, as Europeans in the nineteenth and early twentieth century (famine in Ireland, economic crises in the Scandinavian countries, the Italian north etc …) departure and arrival were of the same culture and often of the same region. The Americas needed manpower like the European Union or some of its Member States (in a study I devoted to a century of emigration to the United States from 1860 to 1960, I I have been able to observe that during the crisis of 1929 the net migration became negative: more emigrants returned to their country of origin or to another country than they entered, so there were, all years a large number of migrants who did not stay in their new host country). The danger is that this obstacle, which is added to others concerning the integration of all migrants into their host society, becomes a repackaging in principle to the detriment of a reasoned and dispassionate immigration policy.

And France in all this? country of immigration rather than a country of asylum

France is not a land of “asylum” but more one that legally receives migrants under international conventions signed with France (200,000 non-European nationals obtain a residence permit every year). asylum seekers is very low (less than 20% and is close to 15%). France has favored the massive influx of manpower (Until World War II France will welcome people who will strengthen its labor force dominated by the Great War with in particular large contingents of northern Italians who will settle especially in Savoy and in the south west or poles in the mining basins of the north of France).After the second war priority will be given to an immigration wished in one way or another by the French leaders 1946: beginning the arrival of Algerian workers in number, in the 60s immigration Spanish, Moroccan, Tunisian and some sub-Saharan African countries is rising sharply following agreements signed with the countries of departure.

However, in 1974, migratory flows began to be controlled and in 1976, Valery Giscard d’Estaing decreed the right to family reunification and between 1997 and 1999, 100,000 undocumented migrants were regularized. The gates of the asylum opened however during different world crises (1956: reception of 10,000 Hungarian political refugees then it is between 10,000 and 15,000 Chileans who will get asylum in France after the coup d’état of Pinochet then between In 1975 and 1985, 110,000 refugees from South-East Asia will be welcomed, and while France remains a large country of long-standing immigration, it is still not a country of asylum. , just under a quarter of people living in France are either immigrants or children of at least one immigrant (source INSEE, INED) France is a country of “sustainable infusion”, not “massive invasion” “, foreign populations also characterized by the radical powerlessness of policies to regulate migration flows.

Steps statement

Migrations have existed from time immemorial; they can take various forms (temporary migrations – soldiers at war – religious – Israel – of population, forced – displacement of populations and for various motives (famine, political designs etc. ..) They are traumatic for the societies of welcome only for companies of departure (American Indians, Aborigines, various colonizations etc …)

For companies of departure, it is often empty of some of their forces and the economic and social changes in their way of life: many villages in Algeria, Morocco and other countries live under “financial infusion” thanks to migrant checks; this is the case of Filipino, Sri Lankan, etc. economic migrants); and at best they are disturbing:
Francois Héran quotes an excerpt from the verbatim discussions between General de Gaulle and Alain Peyrefitte; De Gaulle explains that he will have to receive a few thousand black feet, he exclaims “we will never manage to welcome 10,000 people, in total it was 100 times more (more than a million people who integrate quickly as best we can) but it is true that, in a country still enjoying sustained economic growth, the sharing of a common culture facilitates everything !! (“We are a great country of immigration not a country of asylum” see the newspaper, “the one”, number 73) .It is in this region that at the beginning of the 20th century there were riots in Aigues Morte among others who made a dozen deaths among Italian workers accused of “stealing bread the French “!

These immigrations are disturbing and can therefore be a vector of destruction, domination, perversion (the exportation of the mafia system by the southern Italians majority migrants in the United States, those of the north of Italy, in general better professionally trained preferred to emigrate to Europe France the United Kingdom or to Argentina) but they are frequently a factor of enrichment, diversity for host societies. That is why the construction of walls, barriers to prevent migrants from settling in a given territory is the worst solution because on a very down-to-earth level this type of measure that can lead to the economy of the country. host country to the recession and deprive it of manpower to make it work. The temptation may seem strong among some European leaders to emulate this tendency, that of a withdrawal because Europe should remain in first line of displacements of population because of the political instability, economic and social which will continue to reign in its periphery, international aid should continue to provide assistance in Africa “which can act as a catalyst if it is based on endogenous dynamics with a reorientation towards the Sahelian zones which are most vulnerable by the conjunction of the absence of a demographic transition, weak control of the territories, religious radicalism of extension of the traffics, rise of the terrorism “(michailof 2015). Europe will continue to need manpower to support an aging population while trying to better control migratory flows even if the task is difficult because a trend is underway: “forced” migrants will, in the next few years, to exceed that of voluntary migrants due to climate change. And with the exception of statements here and there, most European leaders have neither learned the lessons of the past nor prepared for the coming societal upheaval.

Yves Gazzo
Chairman, Académie des Sciences d’Outre-Mer
Ambassador, Representative of the Sovereign Order of Malta to European Union

March 2017


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