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  • Still looking for a better life! 24 June 2015 | View comments

  • The return of Ethiopian youth, who had migrated to the Middle East and other areas, has been headline news for weeks now.

    Radio and TV programs have been created to educate people on the dangers of migration, especially that of illegal migration. Paradoxically, so many returnees are planning to go back while others are planning to go abroad for the first time, legally or illegally.

    The blame for such migration can be put upon many. Some blame the Ethiopian government for not making job opportunities available while others point to the destinations that open their borders for migrants, such as the European Union. Still others think that it’s the fault of human traffickers who make false promises of a better life in order to pocket a profit, and others blame the youth who are not utilizing the opportunities they have in Ethiopia. On the other hand, citizens of nations that receive migrants blame their governments as they make the labor market cheap due to their high supply. Despite this blame game, migration is still happening.

    But the fact that the root cause of mass migration has not been identified and dealt with still leaves many migrants vulnerable to the dangers of migration. 

    Currently, legal migration to the Middle East is very strict. Thus, illegal migration is the only choice many consider. Despite the Ethiopian government’s attempt to discourage illegal migration and the general understanding of its dangers, many young Ethiopians are taking the risk. Most of them see migration as the one and only way to make their own dreams and that of their families a reality. The peculiar fact is the number of returnees planning their way back despite the hardships they went through. Most of them say that they don’t have access to opportunities in Ethiopia that pay as much. Not that there aren’t any opportunities, but such opportunities that pay as much require a certain level of education, family connections, a foreign education, etc., making these opportunities closed off to people from the rural areas or poor communities.

    Migration is not preventable and traveling is one of our basic human rights as long as it’s done in a legal manner. Thus, rather than trying to put a lid on this problem and leaving it, I believe that the root cause needs to be dealt with. 

    As it is known, migrants in the Middle East are usually exposed to abuse by their employers, whether they travel legally or illegally. Hence, there is a need to mechanize a system to protect them. Migrants offer their country of destination the most valuable resource our nation has—human resources. First and foremost, legal means need to be made convenient to travelers. Traveling through legal means is initially more expensive than traveling illegally as all travelers have to come to Addis Ababa for the process. This makes illegal migration suitable, as they do not have to come to Addis Ababa and wait for their visa process. However, the fees charged by human traffickers can turn out to be much higher, especially when they kidnap migrants and demand a ransom for their release.

    It is now the obligation of our government to make sure that the rights of migrants are protected when they travel legally. Legal migrants have a sovereign nation with the duty to protect them despite their whereabouts and economic status. But before all this, the government should make job opportunities available to people of different education and economic levels. The youth of our nation should be active in exploiting such opportunities. The nations that are destinations need to ensure that basic human rights of other nationalities are protected. Host nations of migrants need to ensure how many migrants their economy can accommodate. Plus, nations that are channels of illegal migration need to take action against the corrupt system that allows their borders to be used for such illegal work.

    Let’s stop this blame game, take responsibility and bring about real change for those who are in search of a better life

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