Category Archives: Migration

Yorkshire African Studies Network (YASN) Migration and Transition – Roots and Routes

Yorkshire African Studies Network conference

Migration and Transition – Roots and Routes

University of Hull, 18th and 19th May 2017

http://beta.www.hull.ac.uk/Choose-Hull/Study-at-Hull/Open-days/Visit-us.aspx

The main theme of the conference is Migration and Transition – Roots and Routes

This 2 day interdisciplinary conference aims to create an inclusive and supportive space for post-graduate scholars, academics and community members to come together in a supportive environment, to provide a platform of critical thinking, exchange of ideas and to promote inter-relationships between academics, researchers, the community and non-academics. .

The conference provides an opportunity for academics and professionals from various fields to share their theoretical knowledge, research findings and practices with colleagues, participants and community members in a relaxed and stimulating atmosphere. Participants’ input will be encouraged in order to add value and interaction, promote networking and foster partnerships throughout the duration of the conference. The conference will be interactive, providing an excellent opportunity for networking.

The main theme of the conference is Migration and Transition – Roots and Routes

There are four strands and poster presentations

Four strands:

  1. The socio-economic and demographic determinants of migration.
  2. Cultural practices, health and life transitions in refugee camps
  3. Sex slave trafficking/ sex workers
  4. Social media, political activism and restorative justice

The socio-economic and demographic determinants of migration: Socio-political, economic, ecological and violence are factors driving migration. Rising violence as a result of ethnic or religious intolerance has led to increased levels of migration. Migration can be humanitarian and/or economic.

Health and life transitions in refugee camps: Forced immigration is a challenge and the traumatic events may have an impact on the individual’s sense of self, identity, health and well-being.

Sex slave trafficking/ sex workers: The sex trade exploitation affects people from all walks of life; asylum seekers, migrant workers and sex workers.

Social media and political, cultural and religious activism: Media activism utilises social media and communication technologies for social, political, cultural and religious movements and activism. Users are able to create and share content for political, cultural and religious change.

Poster presentations: Poster presentations may be on any research topic related to Africa. All ideas will be considered.

Paper presentations will be 15 minutes. Poster presentations will be 15 minutes.

Abstracts of 250 words and poster presentations to be sent to: b.orton@hull.ac.uk  by the 30th March 2017

Foe more Information see: http://lucas.leeds.ac.uk/2017/02/23/yasn-conference-migration-and-transition-roots-and-routes/

PROMOTING PEACE EDUCATION IN SOMALIA UNIVERSITIES: EXPERIENCES AND INSIGHTS

Promoting Peace Education in Somalia Universities: Experiences and insights

Somalia has been a failed state and without a central government for many years. War has traumatised Somali society, and destroyed its national institutions, infrastructure, social foundations positive ethos, communal trust, community spirit, solidarity, sense of hope and prevented meaningful dialogue. Somalia’s youth have grown up in a country where violence is the norm. This, combined with poverty and the complex problems of a post-conflict society has resulted in a large number of disenfranchised youth who are vulnerable to recruitment by extremist and criminal groups. This project aims to inspire Somali youth and restore a sense of hope, confidence and trust through a process of positive dialogue, reconciliation, building healthy relationships and learning non-violent communication methods.

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About Dr Yusuf Sheikh Omar & Khadijo Osman: Yusuf Sheikh Omar holds PhD from La Trobe University. He is a writer, a poet, peace activist. He worked as a teacher at Victoria University, as a researcher at University of Melbourne and Victorian Transcultural Mental Health focusing on Khat Use in the Horn of African community in Victoria and on Emotional wellbeing of the Horn of African Muslim men. His research focuses on social integration of young Somalis living in the western countries. Dr Khadijo Mohamed Osman has a PhD from University College London, School of Pharmacy, UK.

http://www.hiiraan.com/op4/2016/aug/117033/our_journey_to_mogadishu_fear_and_hope.aspx

 

Annual Peace Studies & International Development Conference: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa

The annual Peace Studies & International Development conference for Africanist doctoral students and early post-doctoral career scholars and practitioners is scheduled to take place on the 11th May 2017 at the University of Bradford in United Kingdom.

The conference theme is: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa.

Conference cluster themes include:

1) Natural Resources and Conflict

2) Transition from Resource Conflict to Peace and Peacebuilding

3) Natural Resources, Demographic Change and Development

4) Conflict, Security, Peace and Development Nexus

5) Regional Integration, Security and Development

6) Africa and the Rest of the World
The conference is open to doctoral students and early career scholars, researchers and practitioners. Potential participants and paper presenters are required to submit an Abstract of 200 – 300 words on or before 15th November 2016 to:              africanistpgrc2017-group@uni.bradford.ac.uk
All shortlisted participants will be required to submit the first draft of their papers at least two months before the conference. The conference is expected to result in a co-edited book (Lead Editor: Professor Kenneth Omeje, Senior Research Fellow, John & Elnora Ferguson Centre of African Studies, University of Bradford). Kindly note that all short-listed participants will be responsible for the full-cost of their participation, including visa, travels, accommodation and subsistence.

For full details on the conference: conference-call-oct-2016-revised-version-1

JEFCAS Seminar Series: Birthplace, bloodline and beyond

Venue: Pemberton Room 2.11

Date: Wed 12 October 2016

Time: 16:00 – 18:00

Speaker: Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey, University of Oxford

 Birthplace, bloodline and beyond: how ‘Liberian citizenship’ is currently constructed in Liberia and abroad.

jefcas-seminar-series-2016-17-guest-speakers-1
Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey

As a twenty-first century post-war, emigrant-sending country, Liberia reflects global citizenship norms while simultaneously departing from them, and this unique positioning offers new opportunity to theorise citizenship across spatial and temporal landscapes. I examine ‘Liberian citizenship’ construction through a historical prism, arguing that as Liberia transformed from a country of immigration to one of emigration, so too did conceptualisations of citizenship – moving from passive, identity-based citizenship emphasising rights and entitlements to more active, practice-based citizenship privileging duties and responsibilities.

About Dr Robtel Pailey: Robtel is a Liberian academic, activist and author with over a decade of combined professional experiences in Africa, Europe and North America. Her areas of research expertise include migration, citizenship, Diasporas, development, transnationalism, conflict, post-war recovery, governance, and the political economy of aid, trade and remittances.

Robtel’s research and writing have appeared in the 2016 book The New Humanitarians in International Practice: Emerging Actors and Contested Principles; the 2014 book Leadership in Post-Colonial Africa: Trends Transformed by Independence; the 2010 African literature reader Tales, Tellers and Talemaking: Critical Studies on Literary Stylistics and Narrative Styles in Contemporary African Literature; the 2007 book From the Slave Trade to ‘Free’ Trade: How Trade Undermines Democracy and Justice in Africa; as well as scholarly journals including Citizenship Studies, the Liberian Studies Journal (LSJ) and Humanitas.

Dr Pailey currently serves as a senior researcher at the University of Oxford’s International Migration Institute (IMI).

From a Refugee Camp to Bradford University

[Eritrea's diaspora is one of the largest refugee communities in the world; in Israel (above protest) they are among many immigrants subject to draconian policy and detention]

Tesfalem H. Yemane is a current Peace Sutdies MA at the University of Bradford. Originally from Eritrea, he is a scholar at risk and refugee.

Tafaslem (1)Fear and uncertainty have been the biggest enemies of mine since I left my country in 2010. But now, I find myself sitting in the office of

Professor David J Francis, a man of overflowing and reassuring academic aura. After months of nail-biting wait, I am offered a place at the Division of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. Going through the memories of the past five years of my life, I whispered, “I should be wary of resting on my laurels now.” For a person of my background, education and hard-work are the only gateways for countless opportunities. I should be grounded!

My life journey is that of many Eritrean youths’. At independence, the country was dubbed by many as the beacon of hope and renaissance in Africa. Its leadership, along with those of Uganda’s Museveni, Ethiopia’s Zenawi and Rwanda’s Kagame, was touted as the new breed in African leadership. In the heat of such euphoria and jubilations, we ostensibly boasted on turning the new nation into ‘the Singapore of Africa’. Those dreams have been shattered and we tuck Professor Gaim Kibreab’s book, ‘Eritrea: A Dream Deferred‘ under our pillows. The book explores the national euphoria at independence and the disappointing disjuncture that has resulted in a dystopian society thanks to the regime’s siege mentality.

In the aftermath of the devastating 1998-2000 Ethio-Eritrea war, the country has turned into a giant prison wherein forced disappearance, extrajudicial killing, arbitrary arrest and severe curtailment of freedom of expression and movement are the norm. There is zero tolerance to dissidence and any legal procedures have been a hard sell to the ‘democratic novices’, to borrow Professor Chandra L. Sriram’s phrase. Under the pretext of existential threat, from its favourite bogey, Ethiopia, the regime has employed a pervasive security apparatus that has virtually controlled every aspect of the citizens’ lives. Eritrea is a society under siege and the dream of making the country a major trading terminus in the strategic part of the Red Sea has been sorely deferred.

The leadership’s anti-intellectual culture has forced many bright minds into exile. The only university that operated with an internationally accredited academic standard was deliberately dismantled in 2006, and with it, the hope of nurturing a mass of critical thinkers in the Eritrean body politic poignantly gone. Accompanied by media concoctions, six sub-standard and militarized colleges were hastily grafted in different parts of the country. And in an invasive manner, parallel party and paramilitary structures were put in place to create a numbing duplication of tasks and tight control of the Eritrean youth.  

A state of a crumbling economy, indefinite military service and the lethargy of oppressive hopelessness have forced the youth to ‘vote with their feet’ and embark on the perilous journeys. It was in this context that I decided to vote with my feet in April 2010, never to set foot again. Because of the regime’s imprudent macroeconomic and impulsive diplomatic decisions, the state of the economy was very precarious in the 2000s. In fact, the brunt and wrinkles of the notorious coupon economy were so humiliating that I was excited to find out basic food commodities were in good supply when I first arrived in Sudan. I spent more than two months in the Hobbesian-like and desolate refugee camp in the periphery of eastern Sudan before I was smuggled to the capital.  

Khartoum, Sudan in 2011.
Khartoum, Sudan in 2011.

While in Sudan, I envied the relative freedom of expression presentin the East African country. I bore witness when many Sudanese took to the streets of Khartoum, rattling, “The people of Sudan are hungry!” in April 2012. Having said this, however, I should be cautious of vindicating the authoritarian government in Khartoum. As oppressive as it is, Khartoum’s strong handedness pales in comparison with Asmara’s.

In Uganda, a country infamously known for its rampant corruption, I bore witness to people taking to the streets to demand their President heed to public concerns and corrupt officials be held accountable. I also noted many newspapers publicising information about corrupt officials, police officers and the government.

My time in China was an eye opening cultural and intellectual ride. Those late night discussions, debates and questions about the merits and demerits of a developmental state and state capitalism shaped my worldview. Those many discussions about the dialectics of Washington Consensus and Beijing Consensus were reconciled by the synthesis of Geneva Consensus during my memorable years in China.

The Bird’s Nest Stadium, Beijing, 2014.
The Bird’s Nest Stadium, Beijing, 2014.

However, there was a downside to such a pleasant experience in China-that I was a refugee in a student’s body. I had to struggle to conceal my story from many of my wonderful classmates; because I did not want to have a different identity. I lacked the emotional and intellectual maturity to come out and share my story and the story of my compatriots. And that was the most painful episode of my amazing time in China.

I also realized the mismatch between the China of Mao as emulated in Eritrea and the current China and its politico-economic policies. The Eritrean regime serenades in the past achievements of the armed struggle while China has moved away from Mao’s disastrous policies. And thanks to the Isaias Afewerki’s short politico-military training in China in the late 1960s, we sing the ‘Red’ song louder than the Chinese do. The Eritrean leadership still dances to Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forward’ and ‘Cultural Revolution’ rhetoric while the Chinese themselves have moved on and started reaping the rewards of Deng Xiaoping’s economic vision.

On Eritrea, I still remain positive that my country will have its Godsend Lee Kuan Yew sooner than later-a leader who rectifies the malaise the nation finds itself in and Professor Alex de Waal is convinced to backtrack his Museum of Modernism tag on the current state of affairs in the country.

 

Migrating in Africa

[Image credit: South African protester against xenophobia (2015)]

In part, this is a follow-up piece to the gravely, but easily “prescient” posting on Debitores Sumus some weeks ago highlighting the crisis of migration from Africa to Europe. Since then news reports have been riddled with imagery of boat loads of African migrants and even of corpses washed up on the beaches of southern Europe. Additionally, the fates of African migrants outside of the continent also scream for attention and empathy, including hundreds in Israel subject to aggressive detention policies and practices. Whilst these images and stories produce a picture of African migration as a bleeding of it’s young, destitute and desperate, this is not the case. A recent World Bank report characterizes African migration in the following summation:

  • the majority of African migration is intra-continental, but with 90% of North Africans heading into Europe
  • the drivers of migrations are complex and diverse, including colonial connections and contemporary conflict
  • increase in working-age populations across the continent drives migration
  • many migrants are educated and looking for opportunity outside of home (based on empirical survey data in three West African states)

While these simple observations are just the surface, they do reflect an environment of migration that is increasingly driven by opportunity, but still rooted in conflict. The following data, although from 2010, is also instructive. Figure 1.2 shows countries from which migrants are leaving, and figure 1.1 shows destination countries for many migrants. These figures, at first glance offer a revealing picture not only in terms of general destinations (11 out of 20 being intra-continental), but that the leading departure point is Eritrea, and the leading entry point is South Africa.

WBdata 1 WBdata 2

In South Africa xenophobic violence in Durban and Johannesburg against Ethiopian, Somalian, Nigerian and other foreign migrants led to hundreds being displaced into camps and seven deaths. Shadowing an incident in 2008 where many more were killed, this time around the government has responded with perhaps an equally prejudiced, militarized Operation Fiela-Reclaim intended to target a variety of criminal activity, but in reality disproportionately impacting the lives of migrants, and perhaps even formalizing prejudice and violence against migrants as part of the state apparatus.

The violence that migrants find in their varying destinations, may also be not too dissimilar from the violence many leave. Despite the trend of pursuit of opportunity, Africa’s share of the doubling of the global internally displaced populations (6 million in 2010 to 24 million in 2014) and refugees is not diminishing. These populations account for massive number of people on the move intra-continentally, and are largely driven by conflicts within Africa (note here East African conflicts, and even, over 2014-2015, internal displacement throughout West Africa as a result of Islamist violence). The following UNHCR map also indicates the massive presence of these populations particularly in Central and East Africa.

continent-africa-400

Climate change, broadly speaking, is another driver that seems to be impacting without effective response, and impacting resources and populations movements across the continent. Food production is also deeply tied with migration nad lciamte change, with many making the rural to urban transition in search of food and employment. This dynamic is particularly felt in the Sahel where desertification, decreases in rainfall and falling crop yields continue to push people from the rural to the urban, and not expected to improve over the coming decades.

Despite the promise of migration in Africa being based on the educated seeking opportunity or a increased drive to realize aspirations, many are still driven by conflict (consider the recent out-flow from Burundi where thousands have fled into neighboring Rwanda, Tanzania, and even the DRC). This is where our story comes full circle. As mentioned previously many of the migrants braving the fatal seas of the Mediterranean are Eritreans. Not all Eritreans venture this far, many end up in South Africa, and some not so far away in refugee camps in central Sudan. Here Eritreans form what could be described as the permanently displaced, some having occupied the same camps since the 1950s. Camp inhabitants such as those in Al-Shagarab and Wad Sharife in central Sudan face an uncertain future where the cannot hope to return, but are held back from integrating into Sudanese society, and facing decreases in camp funding from both the UN and the Sudanese government. Many have attempted the smuggling route, some unsuccessful survivors even make it back to the refugee camps.

Uncertain futures and the promise of a better life continues to drive migration within Africa. However, it is this more complex picture that is belied by perceptions of the crisis in the Mediterranean, and which European policy makers fail to understand in the race to securitize and militarize their borders.

Further reading:

Marie-Laurence Flahaux and Hein de Haas, ‘African Migration: Exploring the role of development and states,’ DEMIG (2014)

Through Seas and Jungles: The Tragedy African of Migration

[Image credit: Antonio Parrinello_Reuters Wednesday, March 04 2015_migrant coffin Augusta Italy]

A young Eritrean family of three, also expecting another child, have resided in “The Jungle” for several months: no sanitation, little clean water, and even less hope of escaping their current limbo. According a recent Guardian investigation, this family hoped to stow away onto a channel ferry into the UK, via a trans-continental goods lorry. Located in at a public park in the port town of Calais, France, this family of migrants-refugees-human beings are among many who trickle here from various locations in North Africa, and other conflict ridden zones. This is “The Jungle”, labelled not least because the desperate situation induces its own conflict boundaries. Reports of the factional nature of this desperate way-station, with the Sudanese guarding their own corner and “home-made” latrines, and the Kurds renowned for mafia like presence, reproduces the violence that many of The Jungle inhabitants have tried to escape in their home countries.

Contemporary commentary of this crisis and the seemingly never-ending stream of migrants from Africa to Europe offers a picture of recent escalation in these movements. UNHCR statistics, cited in a National Geographic piece, claim that migration from Africa (and Syria) jumped from 169,271 in January 2013 to 350,775 in September 2014, doubling over 21 months. Of note, the largest single country shedding migrants is Eritrea. The above Guardian commentary on The Jungle reports a significant number of Eritreans, including the young family of three this article began with. Political oppression experienced in Eritrea, and increasing unemployment in under performing economies, like Ghana, and long term conflicts, like Sudan, appear to continue to push migrants to the promise of a prosperous Europe (see recent post on documentary series on African perception on migration to Europe). However, this trend precedes the recent boom. In 2006 just over 22,000 Africans, mostly North Africans, made their way across the Mediterranean. In this same BBC report, 24 died in a capsized dingy off the Maltese coast in June 2007. The dynamic of remittances being sent back home, also feeds the promise of not only individual prosperity, but that of increasing the welfare of one’s family. Migrants who survive the trek and places like The Jungle, and live in poverty working menial jobs, are able to send home vital cash payments. In 2010 these payments reached $40 billion US. This figure has been steadily growing from $10 billion US in 1990. Whilst the explosion is a recent phenomenon, the story is not new.

Since the 2013 sinking of at least 300 Somalis, Eritreans and Ghanaians near the Italian island of Lampedusa, Western media occasional throw a bone to the steady stream of the “drowned and (occasionally) the saved”.  Primo Levi’s assessment of the villains and victims of the camp system is appropriate: those caught in the camps were subject to the structures and power struggles let loose at the heart of the genocide in Europe. Levi’s situating these actors in “the gray zone” offers a more compelling explanation than perhaps the ever variable and changing degrees and origin points of push and pull. The economic structures that lay behind such factors provide a systemic level framing of such political and economic migration, and create a dynamic of chaos only clear observable in the sea and jungle. The demand for cheap labour has defined most capitalist economies since the Industrial Revolution. Whether you are a fruit picker in California, a Chinese sex worker in Japan, or a Eritrean cleaning toilets in Italy, the implication is the same, global structures so disproportionately favoring the Global North enable instability in regions like North Africa, in the name of maintaining the order and security of hyper-consumerist lifestyles. This perpetration of a gray zone, manifests in horrible living/working conditions for migrants, and life-threatening geographies of transit in the sea and jungle.

Integral to the hidden workings of capitalism’s cheap labour is the business of human trafficking. Such smuggling activity ranges from informal to multileveled networks, and often run deep in many North African economies. Blessing, a Nigerian who fled a Boko Haram attack in her village, reported paying for smuggled passage and being locked in a boat:

“It was July 15, 2013. We were 150 people in the dark, crouched down together on the deck, sitting. But the boat broke down, and we drifted seven days at sea. Sun and heat and no water! Fifteen people died. I was so afraid, I shut my eyes. I don’t know what they did with the bodies. Finally another trafficking boat came and took only the girls, us 20. We left the others and don’t know what happened to them.”

The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, makes a further distinction between a range of activities encompassing smuggling and human trafficking, in-between which occur varying degrees of exploitation and extortion. The presence of these trade networks add onus not only onto African governments to disincentivize such means of migration, but also onto Global North governments to tackle the long-term issues of global inequality (not to mention reckless foreign policy and adventurist intervention that destroys Global South countries, and produces another generation of migrants- think Syria and Libya). Detention centres across Europe displace the Kantian right to hospitality, and betray the lack of coherent, humane policy.

Seyla Benhabib reminds us of the paradox of this ideal:

“The Universal Declaration is silent on states’ obligations to grant entry to immigrants, to uphold the right of asylum, and to permit citizenship to alien residents and denizens. These rights have no specific addressees and they do not appear to anchor specific obligations of compliance on the part of second and third parties. Despite the cross-border character of these rights, the Declaration upholds the sovereignty of individual states”

This tension written into the heart and soul of international relations, also manifests in what Benhabib calls the “disaggregation of citizenship (and) sovereignty”: whilst states increasingly out-source public functions to the global market (a trend on the rise in Africa, as China and Europe engage in natural resource and infrastructure economies), citizenship, if Europe’s trend is not unique, is being broadened out to include the excluded, offering rights to migrants currently caught in the gray zone of the global economy. Yet, the promise of such citizenship is being thwarted by the securitization of immigration policy and the “Othering” of the migrant entrenched in Western societies.

Marjorie, a Uganda asylum seeker in the UK, describes the process that bounced her asylum claim around for seven years as horrific, casting doubt on Benhabib’s mixed optimism: “Whatever the system, they torture people diplomatically. They are not beating you, they are not raping you, but then they just leave you in that limbo”. While the risk of drowning in the Mediterranean, being reduced to camp life in Calais or staring down poverty in the Global South pockets of the geography of the Global North, Africans are still compelled to traverse the sea and jungle in hope of barely existing prosperity. Regardless of the motivation, the manifest brutality of migration only further demonstrates the increasingly apparent scale of global inequality and the total apathy of its benefactors.

Further Reading:

Migrant Files, 2013

International Organization for Migration, Fatal Journeys: Tracking Lives Lost during Migration, 2014.

Brief summary of Primo Levi’s The Drowned and the Saved

“Unholy trinity”? Human migration, smuggling and trafficking.

To prevent a desperate person with nothing to lose from making a desperate decision, we need to ensure that such a person has something to lose. This is a strong statement considering the fact that there are enormous risks that some desperate people brave – wittingly or unwittingly – in trying to better their lives, but in the end get trapped in conditions of exploitation or bondage labour, if they ever survive other risks during transportation. Several people across the globe have been victimised by human traffickers and smugglers.

Sensational stories about desperate migrants perishing as they struggle to flee adverse conditions at their source countries or regions are very familiar. Recently (on 27 June 2012), the BBC published an intriguing online story with the headline, Tanzania: Migrants die in truck”. This is a sad story of 42 Ethiopian migrants who, destined to Malawi (perhaps South Africa?), perished in a truck as result of asphyxiation. Asphyxiation is death resulting from deprivation from oxygen or as a result of suffocation.

The BBC news article is a story symptomatic of deeper problems in society: ingrained systemic conditions which trigger people migration at source regions as well as those factors creating ‘demand’ for exploiting cheap and malleable labour at destinations.

There is no doubt that there could be several unreported or unnoticed cases of people who are ‘wasted’ away in a similar manner. Perhaps, if we are to extrapolate, the number of unreported immigrant deaths could be even much higher than what we know. Deaths of migrants usually result from the callousness of human smugglers and/or traffickers who, wittingly lure or use ‘other means’ to gain full control of their victims, and lead and/or expose them to extreme danger, most of which can be fatal.

If these death incidences or exploitation are easily available in the public domain, why is the problem of human trafficking and smuggling still persistent? What do we know and need to know about human migration, smuggling or trafficking? Though many people agree that it does not require rocket science to conceptualise people movement or exploitation, however, issues relating to the “unholy trinity” of human ‘smuggling’, ‘trafficking’ and ‘migration’ have oftentimes been confused.

Put simply, human smuggling is an ‘immigration crime’: it involves a business transaction between consenting parties regarding illegal movement across borders. The smuggled person is, therefore, a party to the act of smuggling itself. As an offence, human smuggling has an end. Human trafficking on the other hand is a “crime of crimes”: it takes place within a country (or even within a house – consider a brothel owner who recruits his/her child into prostitution and moves him/her from the family rooms into a ‘business’ cubicle for exploitation) internally or internationally (across international boundaries), with the victim not a party to the act. Trafficking offence is a continuum and infinite. It is also possible for a smuggled person to be trafficked, although the reverse is not possible. In human migration, a migrant has the agency of travelling from one area to the other for any reason. Unlike in smuggling and trafficking, migration is a voluntary act.

Why, then, are people disposable? Why is it difficult to curb the danger that smugglers and traffickers pose to humanity? How can the complicity of state and no-state actors (police officers, immigration and border control officers, the private sector that benefits from cheap and malleable labour, financial institutions that facilitate transfer of profits, legitimate businesses that benefit indirectly from exploited labour, restrictive immigration policies, or anti-trafficking NGOs economy that thrives because of human trafficking) involved in the trafficking process be addressed? The trafficking process involves investors, recruiters, transporters, corrupt public official or protectors, informers, guides and crew members, enforcers, debt collectors, money launderers and supporting personnel and specialists. Given this level of sophistication, can we assume therefore, that human trafficking and smuggling are careers? While you ponder over these questions, we should also ask ourselves about the practicality of how to measure human trafficking and smuggling in circumstances where the customers who trigger the demand are equally invisible and invincible.

As highlighted above, the challenges in addressing human trafficking immensely abound: the culture of silence on the victims; low visibility of exploitation; poor data recording, collation, collection and documentation; attitudinal challenge in data collection; sensationalism by the media; lack of coordination to address the problem, among others. The existence of these challenges should not in any way relegate us into the state of lamentation.

Finally, I argue that until such a time when state and non-state actors are willing and able to adequately address structural issues that trigger people’s desperation (from the ‘supply’ side) through making the citizens ‘have something to lose’ if they migrate, people will continue to disregard unknown risks posed by smugglers or traffickers provided they perceive that there are better opportunities elsewhere.