Migration a problem for the world


The current stories of refugees and migrants from Central America, Cuba, Africa and the Middle East pouring out of these areas in sometimes fatal attempts to reach the U.S. and Europe are nothing new.
There has never been a time in history when people were not moving from one place to the next.
Recorded history reveals movements of, in some cases, entire populations for one reason or another, changes in weather patterns and depletion of food sources being among them.
Of course that was when the world’s population was much, much smaller. And even as the population grew, migration – some of it forced – would not have had the impact it can have today.
In fact, history glorifies migrants who would have been called pioneers back in the day, when they rose to the challenge of expanding and developing new lands. They have been lauded in books and poems and venerated in films.
It is a fact too that those who built some of today’s great cities were migrants – and their descendants – who either left their homes because they were adventurers, or were escaping turmoil or the law. Again, the numbers though large back then pale in comparison to the current situation.
The sheer numbers of today’s migrants and refugees is cause for concern and should perhaps become the basis for a roundtable of world leaders and think tanks. Given that there is no evidence of a lessening of the surge – in fact there is every sign the numbers are growing – there needs to be a plan of action.
For those in Central America and Cuba escaping poverty and oppression, their goal is to be able to live where they can work and earn enough to provide for their families and to do so without fear and with their human rights respected. Unfortunately, their desperation makes them vulnerable to the vagaries of an ugly sector, in which they can encounter slavery among other forms of exploitation.
Those from Africa and the Middle East are fleeing despotism, never-ending wars and terrorism. Equally desperate, they appear ready to try just about anything that they believe will ensure they reach a safe place. Several, too many, have died in the process and there is every indication death will be the final destination of many more.
A joint report released by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently said such “large-scale migration from poor countries to richer regions of the world will be a permanent feature … for decades to come …” Yet, to date, there has not been a concerted joint effort to address this movement of people.
There is wide dissension in Europe, which is supposed to have unity of purpose, about what ought to be done to address the human tide. Opinions of immigration are broad and varied in the U.S. as well. All the signs point to a need for a global consensus on resettlement.
The World Bank and IMF believe the world is in the throes of a major population shift which will have a major impact on economic development. This is clearly going to take place whether borders are closed or not, whether migrants and refugees are legally admitted or not.
The two global financial institutions believe that if carefully managed, the current migration can provide a path to ending extreme poverty. They feel, according to the report that “countries at all stages of development can harness demographic transition as a tremendous development opportunity.”
In a letter which appeared in this newspaper on Nov. 15, Clairmont Lye made a strong case for Guyana accepting a quota of refugees, providing emotional, economic and pragmatic reasons why this should and could happen.
There are several equally strong reasons why it will not. At least not before there is a global consensus on the way forward, which should see several other countries proposing to do the same. But Lye’s point is well taken and it indicates that he is thinking as a citizen of the world.

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