HomeCommentaryMigration: The consequence of colonial exploitation

Migration: The consequence of colonial exploitation

Population growth is a huge problem in the developing world. The poor have more children in the hope they will provide security as they face early death or old age without any income and they cannot feed them all.

Besides, millions are in refugee camps because of climate change and war. Instinct drives them to survive by having large families and besides they have little access to birth control methods. The decrease in infant mortality rates in Africa has added to the population growth. Nigeria, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, and Sudan are among the countries with the highest birth rates.

There are now eight billion people on the planet at present and that is increasing every day. According to a UN report, about 140 million babies are born every year. That is about 385,000 babies born each day worldwide. The highest populations however are in Asia: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh. The Philippines’ population is very high, too. It stands at 114 million as of July 2023 based on the UN Worldometer data. In Africa, Liberia has the highest population growth of all.

In Asia, the rich countries have declining populations. There are more deaths than births. Singapore and Japan are in rapid decline and have serious labor shortages and are hiring more overseas workers, especially Filipinos. China has an annual decline in population with 850,000 fewer children born every year.  

The poor in underdeveloped countries receive little or no meaningful social or health benefits or services and most poor people have no pensions and income. They are so poor they can hardly feed their children. That lack of nutrition means low energy levels and leaves millions of children prone to sickness and slow mental development. Many children have short attention spans and cannot learn so well in ill-equipped shabby school rooms with poorly paid, under-trained teachers. There are presently recurrent teacher strikes across West Africa because of poor wages and conditions. Education is the hope of any nation to overcome poverty but corrupt politicians steal part of the available funds.

In rural villages and towns, their teaching aids are a blackboard and a stick of chalk without teaching or visual aids. The students are mostly taught by rote without discussion and participation in the learning process. This disables intelligent, independent thinking and decision-making. It seems authoritarian regimes prefer unquestioning students. Many drop out for lack of inspiration and encouragement. Others go to school hungry and cannot concentrate. In some developing countries, foreign aid for education, infrastructure, and job creation are passed through the hands of corrupt politicians and serves their interests as they serve the interests of the rich nations and allow them to exploit natural resources. These countries in Africa and Asia have a cluster of millionaire politicians that rule with cronies and their dynastic family members are in every part of government.

The Philippines suffers, too. It ranks lowest among all of the ASEAN nations. The respected Philippine economist Winnie Monsod says it simply in her excellent analysis (see marengwinniemonsod.ph) She points out that the Philippines has the lowest GDP per capita, the most unequal distribution of income, the highest poverty headcount ratio, and the highest learning poverty rate of 90.9 percent. This means among 10-year olds, nine out of 10 cannot understand what they are reading.

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Many Filipinos cannot find fair paid jobs and seek work abroad to escape poverty. An estimated 10 million Filipinos live and work abroad and every year another one million travel to join them. About 16 million Filipinos live in dire poverty, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. Mass migration causes emotional stress, loneliness, family breakups, abandoned children, and child abuse.

The impoverished deprived youth in Asia and Africa see no hope in their corrupt countries and flee poverty, violence, and hunger.  Thousands travel overland from Central America and others from Asia and Africa and across the Mediterranean Sea in small boats. They are mostly youth seeking to reach a better life in Europe or the United States. Many are refugees fleeing persecution, war, and hopelessness. These are the unwanted and unwelcome migrants of failed or semi-failed states, many with colonial histories of exploitation and corruption.

The refugees and migrants are the strangers that all nations are supposed to welcome and shelter. They are the victims of historical colonial injustices and abuse. The youth of previous migrants to European countries are born citizens but are still unaccepted by many natives as true Italians, French, Germans, Swiss, and so on. Some, despite efforts to change the situation in Europe and the United States, are still subject to marginalization, racial profiling, and police brutality. They are still unwelcome in many European countries although they were born there. France has been the scene of terrible violence and unrest by these marginalized youth. The consequences of past colonial sins are catching up with the present generation. They cannot accept the growing reality that diversity in the population is inevitable.

These marginalized youth and their families are being joined by the fresh waves of migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers arriving daily. Some are victims of neo-colonial regimes where corruption, inequality, and poverty continues. Colonial exploitation still thrives among them as oil and mining companies of the rich developed nations exploit the natural resources of the “dependent” poor nations. At the same time, the rich nations continue to support lifestyles of vast consumption that are run on the burning of oil, coal, and gas that are damaging the climate and causing more hunger and poverty. Climate justice demands recompense and an end to a fossil fuel-run world. The alternatives are there. They just need to build more renewable sources of energy.

As a consequence, there is continuing mass migration to the rich nations. The number of arrivals of refugees and migrants in Europe in 2021 was 123,318 people. Tragically 3,231 died in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea in small boats. In 2022, there were 159,410 arrivals in Mainland Europe and 2,439 drowned trying to cross the sea.

This year 2023, as many as 91,008 have crossed and sadly 1,872 drowned when left unrescued. It is forecast that about 56,000 migrants will cross the English Channel from mainland Europe this 2023, having trekked across Europe from impoverished nations, whereas in 2022 there were 45,000 arrivals on the UK shores in small boats.  

Most European countries have sealed their borders to migrants and asylum seekers and refugees of African and Middle Eastern origin. They have erected huge barbed fences and have armed patrols to stop crossings. However racial basis has been alleged when refugees and migrants from Ukraine flooded in their many thousands to Europe when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. They were welcomed with jobs and housing. As some Europeans said, “They are like us,” so some refugees are more welcome than others. Racial inequality persists.

However Germany, to the dismay of its neighbors and the delight of refugees and migrants and their supporters, has passed a new migrant-friendly law to invite and welcome migrants to apply for jobs in Germany with less stringent language and other requirements. Kindness and compassion meet self-interest as Germany has a huge decline in its birth rate. More on that in the next article.

Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse. The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.

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