News / Africa

Report: Migrants Often Scapegoats for Society’s Problems

Migrant workers from Africa stand in a line after they arrive by ship from Misrata during an evacuation operation organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) at the port of Benghazi May 5, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Migrant workers from Africa stand in a line after they arrive by ship from Misrata during an evacuation operation organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) at the port of Benghazi May 5, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Joe DeCapua

A new report says few areas of public policy are subject to greater bias, polarization and political debate than migration. The International Organization for Migration, IOM, calls it one of the most misunderstood issues of our time.

The IOM says we’re living in an era of the greatest human migration in recorded history, calling it one of the defining features of the contemporary world.

“Nobody can deny that migration will play a bigger even role in the future. So, you love it or hate it, but migration is here to stay, said IOM spokesman Jumbe Omari Jumbe, adding, “It is a natural process in human evolution, if you like.”

Let’s talk about it

The new report is entitled World Migration Report 2011: Communicating Effectively about Migration. It recommends a fundamental shift in the way people talk about it.

“There is a lot of negative reporting. Not only negative reporting, but also there is a lot of misrepresentation of the migration debate. And we think that by allowing migrants themselves to speak about themselves rather than being spoken about them, this will at least rectify the imbalance that exists today,” he said.

Jumbe said the media are partly to blame for the misrepresentation.

“First of all, the media do not represent the migrants themselves and very few media houses have migrant staff members. And the second thing is that most of the media houses we have followed do not understand the migration issue. Migration is a very complex issue,” he said.

Blame game

Jumbe said migration has become a scapegoat or catchall issue that “masks the public’s fear and uncertainties.”

“So migration is blamed for everything, starting from economic, social and even political issues. So this is a huge misrepresentation because it does not look at all sides of migration. We don’t deny that there are some negatives in migration,” he said.

For example, migrants may put a strain on social services or act in a way that is criticized by host communities. But Jumbe says the positives outweigh the negatives through an exchange of talent, services, skills and diverse experience. In addition, migrants send billions of dollars to their home countries in the form of remittances. These may be a huge part of national budgets.

The IOM report also says the public often overestimates the size of the migrant populations in their country. In the United States, for example, an opinion poll indicated the public believed migrants made up 39 percent of the population. The actual figure was 14 percent. Another poll showed Italians believed migrants were 25 percent of the population, when in reality the figure was seven just percent.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs