Sunday, November 4, 2007

Economic Refugee

An Unending War, an article I stumbled across in the Tripoli Post, begins:

What ran through your mind? I mean when you read the title to this article. I'm sure you must have thought about physical gun battles

It's by 'Joseph Success', a pseudonym adopted by the writer who is "a refugee living in Libya".

His point is that the idea of third world 'economic migrants', implying a voluntary choice, is nonsensensical in view of the conditions they are escaping, that living in poverty is not like living in a war zone but worse, because there is no end in sight.

The risks taken and dangers, especially those faced by Africans, hoping to reach Europe should certainly dispel any myths of freeloaders looking for an easy ride. And its not like those Africans who actually reach -never mind breach- the fortress impenetrable are guaranteed a dignified life.

Given his self-description I'm assuming the writer is himself waiting to leave the continent, in which case he is an example of the brain drain from which the continent suffers. Africa is wasting the potential of its best hope for the future, those it has used precious resources to educate, by failing to provide them with adequate opportunities.

David McFarlane
, covering the recent conference held in Tripoli on the issue, provides some startling statistics on the high percentage of African University graduates (especially doctors) living abroad.

Some, like Kenya Airways Executive Titus Naikuni, think that Africa can utilise the brain drain to its own advantage, by turning what has been termed its subsidy of the first world ( providing a cheap educated workforce) into an export industry. Sami Zaptia of the TP however argues that their own countries need such highly qualified professionals to develop, and talks about the problems facing Libyans wanting to return.

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