By speaking of migration, today, I don’t necessarily refer to migration by means of coercion (forced migration or the threat of forced migration) but more to deception in migration when the prospect of a brighter future reveals the fragility of the system which impact with the migration flows.
Migration is the process of moving from one environment to another environment that is, in most cases, thought to be a better one. Central to the approach is the idea that people have the right to live in freedom and dignity, free from poverty and despair… with an equal opportunity to enjoy all their rights and fully develop their human potential (UN General Assembly, 2005). Migration was found to be an integral part of livelihood for all described societies for centuries, as it is true for human mobility in many other societies and parts of the world.
Crisis Management and migration also have a long historical association, in popular and policy discourse as well as in social scientific analysis. As we all know the issue is treated as an emergency, when in fact it should be handled as a part of public planning. This may happen because declaring an emergency on migration means having instant access to extra funding without resorting to bureaucracy. Sometime politician strenuously construct migration situations as crises to divert domestic discontent, or to secure support for exceptional policy measures.
Despite the emergence of more nuanced and even celebratory accounts of mobility in recent years, there remains a persistent emphasis on migration being either a symptom or a cause of crisis. Moreover, in the context of a recent series of headline-hitting and politically controversial situations, terms like crisis management and migration are acquiring increasing currency among policy-makers and academics.
Who is a migrant?
There are many people in the world today that live and/or work in a place different from their place of birth: migrants away from their parents, relatives and friends. Rough estimates speak of one out of every seven: one billion people!
So not properly something unknown. The ideal of proper public planning should be taken into consideration… These billion people are usually divided into two main categories: first are the people who are migrants in their own country of origin (in Italy, for example, we find regional migrants) and second are those who are in a state that is not their country of origin.
Coming from “internal” migration or from an “external” migration obviously involves a considerable difference. In fact, at all stages of the “external” migration, the decision to relocate abroad with hopes of the opportunity of becoming integrated, involves a series of additional problems that are not necessarily experienced by those who are “internal” migrants.
Integration, a term which is still remarkably ambiguous, carries along with it many challenges by both means of quantity and quality for the “external” migrant. For example: feeling and being perceived as a refugee or an asylum seeker and not being able to enjoy the full rights of citizenship.
Just think what it means to learn, to understand and to be understood in a different language, to face discrimination stemming from prejudice and xenophobia in searching for a job and decent housing, to feel (at best) as a required workforce in activities that many locals would rather avoid, etc.
A cultural choice: Problem or resource?
Very occasionally the numbers of the "immigration" find comfort in countries that claim (but often do not confirm) to have a culture based on solidarity and hospitality. For example when it comes to labor conditions, we see that the specific legislation adopted in strong (developed) countries is actually functional in relation to give response to "unavoidable labor needs" rather than “principles of equal dignity”, leaving the majority of the answers, drastically the most expensive, to the countries in structural crisis or financial difficulties where the migrants come from.
In my country’s experience, in the past forty years Italy has become one of the preferred destinations of migration for extra-EU citizens, radically changing its geopolitical, social and cultural status from the beginning of the past century when the Italians were in fact the actual migrants.
Following the increasingly significant phenomenon of movement of goods, products, and raw materials, the globalization of the market “forced” an increasing number of people to move to countries holding the economic and production trend. Thus, Italy has been facing major political, economic, social and cultural changes, as well as new challenges that still pose many unanswered questions. Even if the foreign presence in Italy remains among the lowest percentage in Europe, the phenomenon poses a number of important practical issues and often inspires panic, stereotypes, generalizations, intolerance, xenophobia and prejudice.
Those immigrants in Italy that feel "integrated" nowadays represent the tip of the iceberg and are still perceived as “excluded”. Simplifying, this situation usually leads to 3 extreme statuses of perception:
• The first (problem-problem) where the immigrant is a problem and is perceived in public as a problem;
• The second (resource-problem) where the immigrant is a resource but is perceived in public as a problem;
• The third (resource-resource) where the immigrant is a resource and is perceived by the public as a resource.
De facto, where migration is perceived in terms of hardship and as something evil to be fought appears increasingly. Almost as if the presence of immigrants results in a linear cause-effect relationship to an increase of crimes, loss of jobs, environmental degradation and, essentially, underemployment, and loss of social and cultural identity among those who hold the citizenship of the "welcoming" country.
Dealing with security
Through the activities envisaged the project impacts on emergency prevention and preparedness in terms of a) increased community participation and public awareness on environmental hazards and safety consciousness b) strengthening inter-sectoral collaboration and community resilience and c) improved organizational assets and personal skills through the implementation of educational activities and the dissemination of best practices and recommendation. All have been essential for the successful implementation of this project.
The partnership across institutional boundaries at central level in the organizational system of a Country suffers cultural, political and therefore, generates organizational frictions. Responsibilities are fragmented over many Institutions and actions lack of authority. Effective inter-sectoral system is essential when dealing with large-scale threats, especially in the case of migration flows. And this should happen not only at central level, between institutional stakeholders, but also at local level, to support public awareness while mitigating public anxiety.
Moreover, the coordination between different sectors minimizes the duplication of works with reducing costs and overheads. Another aspect is that through inter-sectoral collaboration the responsibilities are shared, thus reducing the workload of individual organizations involved. Bridging inter-sectoral gaps with effective coordinated mechanism among diverse stakeholders 1 may guarantee that the level of proper assistance and protection required is not compromised, and state of crisis could be avoided.
Involving local communities in operational actions at local level (e.g. creation of voluntary squads of first response) with sufficient empowerment and resources” seems to be a very effective tool to mitigate unwanted effects in the public society. Community empowerment should include specific training and awareness raising activities to move the level of resilience from individual level to community based.
If someone migrate to a Country from another one, if someone come to our planet from another planet, are we going to meet him/her with a flower or with a gun? Are we going to build high walls or open our doors? Nobody has the right answer! And this is because we call these events unexpected. But if there are more than 20 conflicts around the world, if there is drought and financial recession, misery, poverty against richness, if there is not education should we consider the migration something expectable or unexpected?
1 The term stakeholders is often used for representatives of the institutionalized public and of organized interest groups. In contrast, we refer to everybody who is affected or interested by the project.
The opinions expressed in this speech are entirely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the positions of any organization quoted or to which the author have been or is currently associated.
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