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International migration and national development - Hein De Haas

International migration and national development - Hein De Haas

more aware of the

more aware of the dangers of trafficking. Some interviewees criticised the publicawareness campaigns for having the character of general anti-migrationmanifestations which try to convince the youth that they should not migrate. Oneinterviewee said:“They simply say ‘East, west, home is best’. But this is the wrong message.You won’t stop people from going. You should instead inform people how tomigrate legally so as to create a balanced opinion. Migration is not really a badthing.”Nigerian stakeholders tend to criticize the failure of European receiving countries,such as Italy, to identify the traffickers in country and not deport them with thetrafficking victims. Currently, no such differentiation is made, and all undocumentedmigrants are categorised as ‘illegals’:The focus on improving Nigeria’s rather negative image abroad through antitraffickingcampaigns is subject of criticism by civil society actors, because thiswould coincide with an emphasis on repression and a lack of attention to the victimsthemselves:“The Nigerian government wants to make a good show, laundering itsinternational image, rather than protecting the rights of individuals. Forinstance, the preamble of the anti-trafficking law only mentions the bad imagemigrants are creating for Nigeria. It does not address the rights of theindividuals.”Because victims of trafficking are not well protected in Europe and in Nigeria, theyare generally not inclined to denounce traffickers, which is seen as essential to reallyaddress the issue. It was suggested that undocumented migrants should be given atemporary or permanent residency status if they inform on a trafficker and will not bedeported straightaway.4. Emergent links between migration and development policies?4.1. Contested migration-development linksIn the first four decades after independence, international migration has hardly beenan issue in Nigerian politics, and until recently no connection was made betweenmigration and national development strategies whatsoever. In comparison, the muchmore large-scale rural-to-urban internal migration has attracted much more attentionfrom Nigerian policy makers and development agencies. However, this was mostlywith the aim of stemming rural-to-urban migration rather than using this migration asa development force.This policy was based on the assumption that migration impacts negatively ondevelopment processes. For instance, in the few instances Nigeria’s PovertyReduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), in Nigeria better known as NEEDS (see NNPC2004), mentions (internal) migration, it is generally seen as a force disrupting socialcohesion in village societies and causing urban crises. Migration is strongly associated13

with trafficking, forced child labour and prostitution. In addition, Nigeria’s PRSPperceives internal migration as a force which potentially contributes to urbanunemployment 14 and urban pollution and waste management problems (NNPS2004:12 + xix). Migration of the educated workforce to urban areas would alsoprovoke the ageing and deepen the poverty of rural populations (NNPS 2004:32), andis indirectly blamed for the decrease in the level of security through“social dislocation caused by massive rural-urban migration, and thebreakdown of societal values, leading to fraud and community unrest” (NNPS2004:95).The perceived solution to these problems is to develop rural areas to stem rural-urbanmigration through rural development schemes (NNPS 2004:70). The PRSP proposesto “implement an integrated rural development programme to stem the flow ofmigration from rural to urban areas” (NNPC 2004: ix). Nigeria’s PRSP warns that ifrural development strategies fail, and internal migration continues,“the rate of urban unemployment could become unmanageable. Theimplications for poverty—and crime, conflict, and the maintenance ofdemocracy—are grave” (NNPS 2004: 43).As far as Nigerians policy makers have dealt with international migration, its positivecontribution to development has so far mainly been envisaged in strong connectionwith return migration (cf. Federal Government of Nigeria 2004:38). Emigrants havebeen seen as a drain on the country’s resources rather than a potentially positive forcefor national development even when living abroad. More in general, in most policycircles migration, whether internal or international, is still primarily seen as adevelopment failure rather than a constituent part of broader social and economictransformation processes.4.2. Development contributions of internal and international migrationIn this context, it is relevant to assess what has been the actual contribution of internaland international migration to social and economic development. The contribution ofinternal migration has possibly been more positive than that of internationalmigration, although the dominant policy analysis tends to put international migrationinto a more positive light, in contrast to the negative role ascribed to internalmigration. International migration of the elite, although numerically not impressive, iswidely associated with a large-scale capital flight, in which large parts of thecountry’s oil windfall is transferred to foreign bank accounts and invested abroad.The recent, often undocumented, migration of people from more modest socioeconomicbackgrounds to southern Europe and elsewhere may therefore have beenmore beneficial for national economic development. This can even be the case oftrafficking-related migration of female sex workers, as is testified by the visible14 This is based on the assumption that labour demand would be constant, and ignores the fact thatmigrants themselves are also consumers of services and products, and, hence, increase the total size ofthe urban economy.14

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