This report explores the lives of young women and young men who have ventured into new lands to chase their dreams or to escape oppression, war, poverty or misfortune. It profiles the lives of young women and men from ten countries – Burkina Faso, Colombia, India, Kenya, Liberia, Moldova, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Suriname and Zambia. Some have never migrated, but their lives are marked by the experiences of spouses or relatives who have moved abroad. They were interviewed by journalists Martin Caparros and Shyamala Shiveshwarkar in their countries of origin or destination.
From a desire and intention to migrate (Bibi, Suriname) to a search for a better life in a new land (Falcao, Colombia; Myanmar; Noraida, the Philippines); from the hunt for an advanced education and freedom from gender biases (Kakenya, Kenya) to the spill-over effect of relatives who moved abroad (Rajini, India; and Edna, Zambia); from the construction of a new cultural identity (Khadija, born to Moroccan migrants in the Netherlands) to the risks and challenges of crossing borders (Natalia, Moldova; Adama, Burkina Faso); to escaping violence and persecution (Richard, Liberia); the profiles of young people presented in this report show a picture marked by hope and success but also by disillusionment and desperation.
The report includes a brief introduction with overall information about young people who move. Because young people have been largely invisible in debates and policies about international migration, the information available is very limited. We hope that by listening to the voices of young people touched by migration, by showing their human faces as they live their lives and by sharing their concerns and needs for education, employment, health, security and peace, this report will help to call attention to young people, as part of the discussion on international migration.
The ten young people interviewed in this report talked with honesty, courage, and openness. They show that even in the most adverse and risky situations young people have an extraordinary resilience and ability to cope.
In addressing migration issues, governments have an opportunity to release the resourcefulness and vitality that young migrants bring with them rather than
considering them as a burden or a risk. In September 2006, member states will meet in a special session of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss international migration. This High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development represents a unique chance to address the concerns of young people on the move.
We hope this report will raise awareness about the need to develop responses that
protect the human rights of young migrants, regardless of their place of origin, their
sex, their age or their ethnic background. It calls for appreciation of the contributions that young people make to countries both of origin and destination; contributions that could be much enhanced with closer attention to their diverse needs and rights. Their stories remind us that there are millions of young women and men like Natalia, Edna, Falcao, Adama, Bibi, Rajini, Richard, Kakenya, Khadija and Noraida. They cross borders every day, driven by insecurity, violence or poverty or in search of better opportunities, whatever the odds, to achieve their legitimate desire to lead better lives.