Augustin Nguh is a recent graduate of the International Relations MA program at the University of Pannonia Kőszeg Campus. He also holds a LL.M in International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law from the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. He has worked for various organizations and law firms in Africa and Europe in the capacity of research fellow and independent consultant. His research interests include human rights, international humanitarian law, international criminal law, migration, and indigenous peoples’ rights.
Reverse Migration to Africa: Challenging the Current Migration Paradigm
People have always migrated in search of a better life. From 2015, it seems hardly a day passes without news of the arrival on European shores of hundreds of illegal migrants and/or refugees from Africa and other regions. We have all become too familiar with images of illegal migrants/refugees cramped in small fishing boats being rescued from the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean; or dead bodies washed ashore along the coasts of Italy or Greece. For centuries, Europe and the West have been perceived by both Africans and the rest of the World as the benchmark economy of the world, while Africa was made and kept the world’s hopeless patient. This definitely explains why many Africans risk their lives on fishing boats just to make it to Europe, only to perish in the high sea or end up being denied asylum if they manage to get to Europe. The statistics of those perished in the Mediterranean as they try to reach Europe in search of a better life is alarming. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), from January 1 to August 27, 2017, the Mediterranean Sea has claimed a total of 2410 souls (dead and missing). Of the total number, 581 came from Sub-Saharan Africa, 2 from the Horn of Africa and 1 from North Africa.
At the other end of the spectrum, it is not only African illegal migrants/refugees who have made and continue to make their way to Europe. Lured by better educational and professional opportunities, some go there to live legally for either studies, family reunion or work purposes. This constitutes some sort of a ‘brain drain” given that most of those who go for studies end up living and working in Europe. This brain drain has had disastrous consequences on African nations, stagnating their development.
However, now the table is turning. Many African immigrants no longer view developed countries as the land of milk and honey and have began making moving back to their respective African countries. Some Europeans are also migrating down south to countries like Angola. Using an in-depth analysis of documents and conducting interviews, this research seeks to explore the reasons for this new migration pattern and also its consequences for the receiving countries and the African Union.