Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Blame the guilty the not the innocent

The number of people with an immigrant background in Germany rose 8.5 percent to a record 18.6 million in 2016, largely due to an increase in refugees. Germany took in more than a million migrants, many fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa in 2015 and 2016. Just over a fifth of the population - 22.5 percent - were first or second generation immigrants with at least one parent born without German citizenship. Around 2.3 million people in Germany have family links to the Middle East, a rise of almost 51 percent since 2011, and around 740,000 people have African origins, an increase of 46 percent since 2011, the figures showed. The vast majority of the immigrant population, though, had links to other European countries. Germany's jobless rate is at a post-reunification low   

Migration has always existed; people have always moved to flee conflicts and widespread violence or to look for better living conditions. Indifference to the casualties and the abuses suffered is increasing. The general atmosphere is hostile and shows no abating, ignoring humanitarian principles, such as solidarity and mutual support. Parts of the media have poured scorn and bile upon migrants.  No longer concerned about the well-being of the vulnerable, the focus is only on reinforcing national borders. In a world where technology and social networks have erased geographical borders, where people can travel all around the world, those attempting deadly journeys appear to lose every right or protection as soon as they flee their homeland and exposed to even further violence and discrimination. Rather being welcomed, they become problems. After war has destroyed their countries, they are seen as a threat. Instead of trying to understand refugees, people view them as a danger. It is sad to say what is missing is a genuine desire to do so, not just by governments but by our fellow-workers. Despite the “undeniable” benefits of migration, public misconceptions continue to hinder and prove to be a barrier to positive development outcomes. Special Representative for International Migration Louise Arbour commented “This must be reversed so that policy is evidence-based and not perception-driven. Policies responding to false perceptions reinforce the apparent validity of these erroneous stereotypes and make recourse to proper policies that much harder.” 

$575 billion in global remittances is transferred by international migrants to their families, almost $430 billion of which went to developing countries. Thee are essential lifelines three times larger than official development assistance (ODA) and more stable than other forms of private capital flows, even though in the countries where migrants move to 85 percent of migrant workers’ earnings remain in the countries of residence. Migrants also tend to fill labour market gaps at all skill levels in countries of destination, advancing economic growth, job creation, and service delivery. It is a “triple win” scenario for the country of origin, country of destination, and the migrants themselves.

Laura Boldrini, president of Italy's Chamber of Deputies, explains, “In Africa, there are so many unresolved conflicts and an exaggerated concentration of wealth in the hands of small elites, which force many to seek better living conditions elsewhere.” She continues to say that austerity has been the most valuable ally for populists. Citizens think: 'What is the use of democracy if it does not provide a decent pension for me or a job for my child?' A few days ago, the news that the CEO of Telecom Italia left the company with a 25-million-euro ($29 million) severance package after 16 months - not 16 years - of work. Workers are rightly angry but at the wrong target, at the victims rather than the perpetuators.

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