Corruption: Another Driver of Migration

Migrants sit in the back of a truck at a local immigration transit centre in the desert town of Agadez, Niger May 25, 2015. African migrants in overcrowded pickup trucks, encouraged by social media messages from friends who survived the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, set off from Agadez, an ancient trading town on the edge of the Sahara, to cross Niger in the uncertain journey towards Europe via Libya, where the collapse of the government has offered an open door for smugglers. Mostly young men, escaping grinding poverty in neighbouring Benin or Burkina Faso, face bandits and often have to pay bribes en route, on top of the hefty payments to people smugglers. International focus on the issue of migration into Europe has sharpened after hundreds of migrants drowned while trying to cross the sea from North Africa in overcrowded and unsafe vessels. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY PICTURE 34 OF 36 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY ‘SMUGGLED THROUGH NIGER’SEARCH ‘SAHARA AKINLEYE’ FOR ALL IMAGES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX1EXBV

“One issue frequently raised by migrants whom I have met in transit (most recently in Agadez, Niger) is the absence of a level playing field in their home country,” reports Richard Danziger at the World Economic Forum. “Without knowing the right people, being from the right community or having the money to buy their way into a job, they will never get ahead. This, in turn, is part of the broader problem of poor governance, which has resulted in everything from a sharp drop in the quality of education and other services; to investment in sectors that lead to impressive GDP growth indicators, but result in little by way of job creation. While an increasing number of countries across Africa are holding free and fair elections, democratically elected governments have yet to prove themselves truly responsive to the needs of vast swathes of the population. In countries where there is already a tradition of migration, for many, voting with one’s feet can appear more effective than a trip to the ballot box.”

Danziger continues,

There has been relatively little research on the issue of poor governance as a driver of migration. A recently published study by GIZ specifically examining the link between corruption and migration and forced displacement is a rare example of research into this sensitive subject…The concept of poor governance is very broad and can cover a multitude of areas of mismanagement or criminal activity horizontally across sectors and vertically across levels of management. Indonesians for example talk of KKN: the Bahasa acronym for Corruption, Collusion and Nepotism. It might perhaps be more useful to explain what is meant by good governance and here we can refer to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” More specifically 16.5, 16.6 and 16.7; address corruption, transparency and accountability, and inclusiveness and participation.

As for the link to migration, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants refers to the promotion of the rule of law and the need to address marginalization and exclusion. It also refers to the SDGs and the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, carefully sidestepping any mention of KKN or related abuses. Yet if we are to create a truly new and effective global migration framework there is a need for the Global Compact on Migration to include explicit reference to these issues.

I have an article currently under review at BYU Studies Quarterly on the subject of the Church and immigration. The more I read about the subject, the more I’m convinced I’m right.