A look at the global contradictions, at some factors that cause migration, at the data that speak for themselves and at the Italian and European reality to try to give an acceptable and understandable meaning to the proposal to "help them at home", attentive to the negotiation on Migration United Nations Compact which in 2018 will indicate common paths.


Slogans with different meanings. Faced with the growing flow of immigrants, the thought has long spread that it would be right and useful to “help them at home”. There are those who support it for political purposes, also to get rid of the embarrassment of not being able to give other answers and to shake off responsibilities, those in an instrumental and xenophobic way to seek easy consensus, those for solidarity and humanity, hoping that everyone can be assured a dignified life without having to emigrate. The following takes up some reflections of the NGOs of the 'LINK 2007' network (summarized in the document Migration and international development cooperation, 2014) who have been studying the theme for years to translate it into action priorities. In 2009, after the second national conference on immigration, one of the NGOs in the network took the initiative to write a letter to the then federal secretary of the Northern League, Umberto Bossi, inviting him to take seriously, with consistent measures, the proposal he launched to "help them at home". The letter has never been answered nor has there ever been any act that transformed the League's propaganda, soon followed by other parties, into a coherent and effective implementation proposal. It was a slogan then and a slogan basically continues to be a question.

Live and thrive in your own home. However, it is a proposal that, removed the connotations of political exploitation and veiled xenophobia that sometimes accompany it, corresponds to the basic principle that every person should be able to live and prosper at home, without being forced to look elsewhere for the guarantee of survival. for himself and his family in the absence of alternatives to extreme poverty. However, it is necessary to investigate the question in depth, to understand it in its real dimensions and to identify which political choices must be adopted and which decisions and methods must accompany them.


South-North and South-South migrations. In the world there are 244 million migrants (2015), equal to about 3% of the world population. Over the years, the countries of the so-called North have welcomed about half of all migrants. South-North migrations have developed particularly towards politically or economically 'colonial' countries or in search of protection fleeing wars, persecutions, droughts, natural disasters or even to try their luck wherever possible, in the hope of improving their condition , also attracted by the labor needs of growing economies. They have decreased in recent years due to the crisis, parallel to a progression of the South-South ones. The latter are now in the majority and, as regards refugees, 9 out of 10 are welcomed in the countries of the so-called South of the world.

International mobility. With globalization, the international mobility of people has expanded, as an obvious consequence of education, knowledge and the global mobility of goods, the economy and finance. It is favored by the desire of the new generations to move, open up to the world, get to know other realities, live new experiences, seek new opportunities for themselves and their families, give new meaning to work and life. Overall, these are epochal changes, for which we are not prepared and on which politics continues to remain blind or superficial, especially in Italy where slogans abound without ever defining far-sighted and comprehensive migration and development policies, limiting themselves to addressing how emergencies structural phenomena for some time.

Serious and growing inequalities. The contemporary world is characterized by extreme and growing inequalities, which are manifesting themselves, with increasing breadth, between rich and poor countries and within both. It is true that there have been significant improvements in health, education, economic development but it is the gap between the inequalities between rich and poor that is growing everywhere, even in industrialized countries, with a few rich people getting richer and with middle classes that are growing. impoverishing by approaching the strata of society that already experience social exclusions and serious vulnerabilities. More than a third of the world's population, at least 2,5 billion people, live between poverty and misery, while the richest 1% of humanity owns more wealth than the remaining 99% in conditions that perpetuate and aggravate this revolting inequality. . A hypertrophic capitalism dominates, patronizing, closed in its privileges, destructive, insensitive to the needs of justice, a seller of false needs in contrast with the needs of a human economy aimed at the collective interest.

Escape from wars, persecutions, drought. Disasters caused by climate change, droughts and floods in particular, are affecting about 350 million people, often forced to abandon their lands permanently (more than 20 million, with a forecast of 2050-200 million by 250). Another 60 million people, often entire families, are fleeing wars, repression, persecution, seeking protection within their own country (36,6 million) or elsewhere (17,2 million refugees, 2,8 millions of asylum seekers and others not yet registered).

2% of world GDP to get out of poverty. These are just some data, which quantify situations of strong imbalance that lead to emigration and which, at the same time, question us. In fact, these are situations that demonstrate structural inequalities and vulnerabilities that can become explosive also because it would be possible to adopt policies and initiatives capable of reducing them, both by strengthening prevention, political dialogue, multilateralism, and by modifying the systems that regulate the economy and finance. global, both by intervening on the most extreme poverty. According to the UNDP, 2% of world GDP, around 1500 billion euros, would be enough to ensure basic social protection for the poor throughout the world.

The demographic factor. The aging of the population and the demographic decline in Europe will produce a shortage of some tens of millions of people (workers, producers and tax and social security payers) in three decades. Over the same period, the rest of the world will continue to grow, rising from 7,5 billion to 9,8 billion in 2050. The population of Africa alone will double the current 1,2 billion people. Nigeria will be the third most populous country in the world with 440 million, surpassing the United States (now 320 million). Africans will be the ten youngest states in the world, with an average age of around 20 (compared to 43 in the EU), resulting in a pool of about 700 million people of working age between 14 and 65 on the continent, in countries where they remain serious inequalities and large pockets of poverty in which one lives on just over 1 euro a day. Africa must therefore offer new job opportunities in a widespread way. If it fails, the migration of tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of people to large cities or to economically stronger African countries or to other continents, starting with neighboring Europe, will be inevitable.


The multiple factors of emigration. The data show us that communities from the poorest parts of the world are under-represented in immigration countries. Also in Italy, the largest presences (2015) come from Romania (1,15 million), Albania, Morocco, China, Ukraine, Philippines, India, Moldova, Bangladesh, Egypt, Peru, Sri Lanka, Pakistan (between 400 and 100 thousand, to scale), while from the poorest countries the origins are very limited. A few miles in fact the citizens of Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Congo, Chad, Niger, Guinea. Mali, Burkina Faso, despite the conditions much worse than the former. To emigrate some conditions are normally necessary and in particular: to be aware of wanting and to be able to do it and to have the initiative and the means necessary to succeed. Those who can afford it emigrate, in economic terms but also in terms of greater knowledge, health and education or links with people who have already preceded them. Therefore, it is not mainly the populations of areas of 'absolute poverty' who emigrate, but those of countries with a medium rate of development and 'relative poverty' compared to industrialized countries. The data relating to the EU and OECD countries reproduce the same pattern. Even serious humanitarian crises such as droughts, famines, floods, cause displacements especially within the same country or, temporarily, in neighboring countries, leaving the most radical migratory choice to more predisposed and enterprising minorities.

Migration and development cooperation. Paradoxically, if cooperation achieves its objectives by helping to create development in the poorest countries, a parallel growth in emigration is very likely, at least in the short-medium term. The exit from extreme poverty and the acquisition of greater economic and cultural well-being, in fact, favor the conditions for being able to imagine, desire and carry out emigration. This result once again highlights the complexity of the relationship between international migration management and development cooperation policies. If from the analysis of the impact of poverty on migration we move on to verify the beneficial effects of emigration on poverty, the World Bank estimates that a 10% increase in the size of the diaspora in the host countries determines a decrease of 1,9, 1,5% in the number of people living on less than 500 dollars a day, due to the attenuation of the social and economic burden of unemployment, which finds outlets in emigration, and of the flows of financial remittances of immigrants to their own countries of origin, about 5 billion dollars, more than double of all appropriations for development cooperation (OECD-Dac). From Italy, XNUMX billion, ten times more than the bilateral resources for cooperation. An impressive figure and not adequately exploited.

A complex relationship. Migrations can also have negative repercussions on development processes, in particular due to brain drain, 'loss of brains', that is, the emigration of skills and professionalism that would be indispensable for development. Countries such as Ghana have lost 60% of the doctors trained in the past decades, with obvious repercussions on the quality and sustainability of their healthcare system. Or like Somalia and Eritrea which, due to internal conflicts or oppression, have seen doctors, teachers, professionals, public administrators flee. But it can also be "loss of arms" due to the abandonment of the countryside, agriculture, care of the soil with consequent damaging environmental impacts. In countries in conflict, then, remittances can sometimes be linked to the risk of exacerbating and prolonging the clashes in the areas of origin by financially supporting one or the other faction; but they can also represent real humanitarian support to people who have been 'trapped' without being able to find escape routes. The relationship between poverty, migration and development cooperation is extremely complex and requires specific assessments on a case-by-case basis.

Complexity should not be trivialized. Therefore, thinking of being able to apply simplistic paradigms ("help them at home", precisely) by directing development cooperation to contain migration flows, as well as being ineffective, risks diverting the attention that instead requires in-depth analyzes and strategies of challenging development, coordinated at European and international level, sustainable, with effective, long-lasting and mutually beneficial partnerships, focusing on credible and stable leadership, involving communities, fighting all forms of corruption, creating widespread and dignified employment. The resources to be committed will have to be huge. To be such and not to run the risk of dispersion, they will have to represent a real investment for the future of Africa and Europe. Not only 'aid' for development but 'cooperation' (as law 125/2014 rightly defined). For such an investment, strong partnerships will be indispensable, broad and not limited to elites alone, careful evaluations, defined planning, severity in management, transparency and checks, participation of territories and communities, coherence of policies in both continents.

International cooperation at the center. Aid and development cooperation, therefore, in a broader framework of political, economic, cultural and security cooperation, associating the bilateral and community dimensions; opening of markets and commercial treaties based on fair, politically consistent and mutually beneficial relationships; social and economic infrastructure; regional integrations. In other words, it is necessary to decide, without further delay, to put international cooperation at the center of the policies of the coming decades, starting with development cooperation, giving it political dignity, equipping it with functional and operational resources and structures, addressing it politically with global and wide-ranging visions and coordinated action from Europe. A 180-degree political change, but necessary. We also hope that the negotiations at the UN for a global Migration Compact will lead to the assumption of lines of action and shared commitments by all.