To better understand migration, we must have a look at figures; but not at the random ones which media, presenters and social networks give us every day, in a chaotic way.
Nobody can put his finger on figures and we know this very well. However, sources exist and sensibility can be useful when making previsions.
From 2010 to 2015, about 2 million people decided to migrate towards Europe – an average of 400,000 every year. Other people – about 3.3 million – chose internal migration, moving beyond national borders but remaining in their continent – from Kenya to South Africa, from Senegal to Côte d’Ivoire, and so on. To these flows, we must add those occurring within national borders, when millions of people run away from the countryside to look for fortune in the cities.
Migration towards Europe is well known and is unstoppable: migrants accept to go with ruthless traffickers, leaving their families, handing all they own in an intermediary’s hands. They are pushed by a force which for us, western people, is incomprehensible. Maybe because, deep down, if you have an alternative, you don’t get on a boat, leaky from the beginning, with hundreds of fellow countrymen, hoping to cross Mediterranean Sea. You risk your life only if, looking behind, you can’t see anything.
The efforts of those making it are worth the risk. And they know it. In 2013, Africans sent home 60 billion dollars, almost as much as development’s public helps. That money going back to the continent, sent by those who migrated and found a job, shows that the mechanism is successful: the strongest people in the village leave and all people do their best to economically support their journey to Europe. They know that if the boy they count on lands on the other part of the Mediterranean, he will return the favour.
Considering next years’ increasing African population, also migration flows from Africa to Europe are likely to exponentially increase. The most important thing is understanding the phenomenon, studying its causes and considering possible strategies.
Let’s analyse figures: in 2000, 19 million African people – 2.3% of 814 million African inhabitants – moved from their countries. 1% of them decided to move abroad.
The graph at the top of this article shows an arithmetic prediction: considering that in 2005 Africa had 920 million citizens and knowing that about 400,000 people decided to migrate to Europe, it is mathematically predictable that in 2050, with a population of 2.5 billion people, about 1,100,000 Africans will leave the continent to look for fortune in Europe.
And this has been calculated as 2005 was 2050 or 2100. But this is not a real situation. Unemployment and lack of jobs will cause many more people to migrate. Will they be twice, thrice, fourfold as much? Nobody knows it, but numbers will be bigger than arithmetical ones.
Beyond projections and their fallibility, we are interested in reasoning out a phenomenon which keeps on growing, while it is underestimated and always dealt with as it was an emergency.