Migration Here to Stay

August 31 , 2019 . By Tsion Fisseha

Just last week, I went to the immigration bureau, because I had to get my passport renewed. Given the fact that I have heard horror stories about this particular office, I woke up really early in the morning and made my way there. As I turned toward the compound, I immediately saw a line extending a very long distance.

The inside of the compound was no different. It was filled with people who dreamt of a better life outside Ethiopia. I spent quite some time there, and I got the chance to speak to some of the people. There was variation in their destination and reason for migrating, but it circled back to the same pool of motivation: wealth, happiness and prosperity.

Many of the developed economies need workers from other countries to keep their economies going. For instance, a recent report says that Canada needs over 250,000 new construction workers between now and the year 2021. It also needs many more employees in plenty of other sectors. There are also several European countries who desperately need migrants to jumpstart economic growth. American president Donald Trump, on the other hand, has animosity toward the idea of migration. This detest, of course, met with some resistance from both the immigrants and the citizenry of the country. Shikha Dalmia, a senior analyst at Reason Foundation, says by any reasonable metric “mass” immigration is a myth. The reality is that America desperately needs to pick up the pace of immigration for its economic health.

The concept of migration is also a very sensitive topic in Ethiopia. In 2018, the Ethiopian government lifted the ban on overseas migration to certain countries in the Gulf, which was put in place while designing mechanisms to protect its citizens from unfair treatment. On top of lifting the ban, the Ethiopian government also created a system where Ethiopian professionals can work and make a living in different countries.

Migration is not necessarily a bad thing for both the country and the migrants. It plays a significant role in reducing the pool of unemployed and underemployed citizens from the source country. While some say that migration should be the last option to lead a better life, others have it as a plan A for everything worth having.

However, despite its positive side, and despite the person’s need to change personal status, the truth of the matter is, it still has some negative impacts. One of these is brain drain.

The outflow of skilled and semi-skilled workers from Ethiopia can be traced to the 1974 revolution that dismantled the Solomonic Dynasty and installed the military regime known as the Dergue.

Various experts have said that the dark side of migration, which is truly horrifying to hear and even harder to watch, is either over exaggerated or only sheds light on the murkiest of situations. Modern problems require modern solutions. Experts say that a moderate amount of brain drain can benefit a country of origin, because it results in more educated workers.

“Migration powers economic growth, reduces inequalities and connects diverse societies. Yet it is also a source of political tensions and human tragedies,” Says Antonio Gutierrez, the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Ultimately, regardless of the comfort of the home nation, people will always have the desire to migrate. In time, if executed properly, in spite of some disruptions, it could create a win-win situation throughout the entire globe. Migration, without its deadly barriers and bans, could result in the prosperity of both the host and guest nation.

PUBLISHED ON Aug 31,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1009]

Tsion Fisseha is a writer and head of foreign languages in the news department at a local TV station. She has been a part of a pan African poetry slam competition representing Ethiopia and is a member of a rock band entitled the Green Manalishi. She can be reached at tsion.f.terefe@gmail.com.

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