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EU message for migrants: You can live the Gambian dream – in Gambia (The Christian Science Monitor)

November 26, 2018

By Ryan Lenora Brown

From the article:

The Story was a magnet. The Story was a compass. And in Jalamang Danso’s hometown, The Story was dragging all of the young men away.

The Story went like this: If you wanted to make a better life for your family, you had to leave. You had to cross the desert. You had to cross the sea. You had to get to Europe.

“People will say, this country is dry. There is no promise here,” says Omar Jammeh, who leads a job-creation program here in Janjanbureh, an island in the Gambia River four hours drive west of the capital Banjul. “The only promise is in Europe.”

Almost everywhere, they point out – including in the European countries funding these new revenue projects in Africa – making poor people more prosperous has broadened their horizons, made them more mobile, and led to more people leaving, not less. It takes more than a generation to have the opposite effect, studies have shown.

That was true in places like Sweden and Italy in the late 19th century and in Latin America in the late 20th century. And it’s likely to be true in sub-Saharan Africa as well, says Michael Clemens, co-director of migration, displacement, and humanitarian policy at the Center for Global Development, a think tank in Washington D.C.

It “might be true in the long term that development will dissuade migration,” he says. “But what is understandably difficult for people to grasp is just how long the long term is.” In the meantime, he cautions, “as countries develop from poor to middle income … there will generally be more and more emigration.”

Read the full article here.


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Photo of Michael Clemens
Co-Director of Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy and Senior Fellow