Monday, February 14, 2011

Another Africa is necessary - why there's a need for a migration-focused blog

News and Analysis on African experience in global migration - by Nunu Kidane

According to the United Nations, an estimated 230 million people in the world today live outside their countries of birth.

This may not seem like such high figure given that the world population is approaching 7 billion. What makes it significant is that the figure has doubled in the last 25 years; less than one generation.  Equally important is that the level of movement is disproportionate across the world.

The above figure from the U.N estimates approximately 2/3 of the people on the move around the world are Africans.

We know that historically, starting from the period of forced removal of Africans from the continent during the slave trade to current day migration; the global African diaspora is the largest in the world.

Depending on how far you look back, Eduard Galeano said it best that “we are all migrants from Africa” after all.

Today’s migration of African however, begs for analysis from multiple approaches: the social, political, cultural and economic.  This blog is partly a response to the gap that exists in academic and political discourse on the particular experiences and perspectives of migrants from Africa.  

There are intermittent news coverage by mass media about African migrants attempting to make it across the Mediterranean to Europe. Other stories include refugees from East Africa attempting to get across the Sahara desert in to Libya and other destinations in North Africa.

For large populations who are on the move, there is unbelievable hardship and ordeal to endure.  Most of the world has no idea on how bad conditions are for millions of refugees across Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.  The intermittent news coverage do not even begin to address the issues to the degree they deserve.

As an Eritrean who was forced to leave home because of the war in the region; I have not only a personal experience with being a refugee but also a deep sense of responsibility to the new generation of migrants who are forced to leave their homes, their families, their loved ones, the familiarity and security of family and culture; the warmth of the sun and the enjoyment of being among one's people.  Having the choice to leave home and being away is a difficult process; but being forced to flea for political and economic reasons makes the process even more arduous and challenging.

This blog attempts to bring visibility to these stories, the individuals, their faces and testimonies; as well as some of the little known policies of the African Union, the European Union, multinational institutions, the United Nations and of course the U.S.

It will site articles of interest, videos and images that contribute towards our knowledge and understanding; new studies and publications that are available electronically and in print.  

Whenever possible, I want to hear from you, the migrant and the person on the move. Particularly from women whose numbers in global migration are increasing at alarming rates and whose experiences are particularly distinct.

As I was in the process of preparing to send this out, news from from BBC covered the current crisis of high numbers of Tunisian refugees entering the island of Lampedusa at the southern tip of Italy. It is exactly this kind of news that this blog wants to cover offering analysis on the crisis of the Tunisian people.  Major news media report now only of what is unfolding in Egypt's revolution and do not cover stories of the large numbers of Egyptians who are fleeing the country, trying to enter into Greece and the draconian policies of the European union through their militarized border control Frontex.  More on this later. 

To those who have useful information to share, please do so in the commentary space below or by contacting me directly.

The issue of African migration is part of the work of Priority Africa Network but all the views expressed below are not necessarily shared by the organization or its affiliates.