April 19, 2024

By: Eriny Girguis

 

Migration is not a novel phenomenon. However, it gained huge attention over the past years as a result of the overflow of migrants and refugees to different host countries, in Europe in particular. Those host countries perceived migrants and refugees as a threat that brings many challenges to their societies including demographic shifts, pressure on the resources of the host countries and on the welfare system, identity crisis and integration, and participation. consequently, different host countries’ efforts were directed to change migration policies to control the flow of migrants and refugees. These actions look only at one side of the coin and neglect the other. not all migrants and refugees are considered to be a threat, as diaspora bring many political, economic, and social benefits not only to their home countries but also to their host countries. Their organizations can play a significant role in international relations and in the economic and political sphere of the host countries. This paper focuses on the engagement of the diaspora and their organizations in different spheres in the host country, with emphasis on the African diaspora organizations in the European countries and how these diaspora organizations can affect the economic, political, and social life of the host countries

The study of diaspora communities is important because these communities can be productive and useful members of society in the host countries. Thus, analyzing, mapping, and assessing the roles played by them is very relevant in this context. It is also significant to discuss the challenges and constraints that face them and hinder their roles in the host countries. Finally, it is central to suggest comprehensive recommendations for both the host countries and diaspora communities themselves in order to increase the benefits that these organizations can bring to the host countries.

This is paper is structured as follows. The first section will provide a general background and some examples of the African diaspora communities in the European countries. The second section will discuss the contributions of diaspora communities in the host countries on the social, political, and economic level. The third section will come up with comprehensive recommendations for both the host countries and the diaspora communities themselves to be more effective not only in the country of origin but also in the country of destination.

1- Examples of the African diaspora organizations in the host countries

The first example in this section is the Ghanaian diaspora in Germany. There is a shred of statistical evidence that nearly 40,000 persons with a Ghanaian migration background live in Germany. In Both the country of origin which is, in this case, Ghana, and the host country which is Germany, the Ghanaian diaspora established and identified itself as “a new development-policy actor”. The second example is the Nigerian diaspora in the European countries and the majority of the Nigerian migrants living in Europe live in the United Kingdom. In 2000-2001, the “Nigerians in Diaspora Organization (NIDO)” was formed with the aim of harnessing the tremendous skill, expertise, and knowledgebase of those Nigerian people living outside Nigeria with a view to using this as a resource base to promote socio-economic and infrastructural development back in Nigeria. There is another example which is the waves of Syrian migrants and diaspora in the United Kingdom. According to the UK census in 2011, there are 8,526 people who were born in Syria who live and resident in England. 

2-The role of diaspora communities in the host countries on the economic and political level, and the obstacles facing them

2.1 On the social and political level

1- The diaspora organizations represent the needs and problems of the migrants for the government of the host countries and make their voices heard in the society. These organizations also assist the governments in collecting information about the migrant communities in order to know their different needs and demands. Thus, these diaspora communities help governments in adopting suitable policies for the migrant communities. These organizations help migrants to have access to their rights.

2- The governments of the host country need the assistance of these organizations while setting the policies related to the migrants. As when this happened, the migrants become satisfied with these policies because they are part of the decision-making process through their representatives (diaspora organizations). As a result, this can contribute to the social integration process of immigrants in the society of their new country.

3- The governments of the host countries and the diaspora organizations can cooperate together to minimize and avoid the phenomenon of Smuggling or trafficking of migrants, which improves the security and stability in the host countries. This can be done through the coordination between the governments and diaspora organizations in drawing up lists of migrants joining the diaspora communities.

4- Through these communities, the migrants can be provided with their basic needs and services which ensure that these migrants will not become criminals. As if those migrants are becoming criminals, this could negatively affect the security of the host countries. Thus, the diaspora organizations have a significant role in improving the security and stability of the host countries.

5- The diaspora organizations can undertake different cultural activities in order to help the members of the hosting society to know their own culture. Host countries can take advantage of this activity to carry out greater and more comprehensive activities centered on managing cultural diversity in societies and the values ​​associated with it, such as accepting others.

6- The engagement of diaspora organizations in the politics of the host country, and their voting and property rights are important in the democratic process of the receiving country.

 

2.2 On the economic level

The diaspora organizations have a significant role in the economic life of the receiving countries. An important part of the co-development approach is the mobilization of diaspora communities. This approach was initiated by France and favored by many other governments. According to the parliamentary assembly of the council of Europe.

These diaspora organizations can also contribute to creating strong links between the country of origin and the country of destination which allows them to transfer experiences and resources between each other in the easiest way. These organizations participate to some extent in the development process and in maximizing the domestic product of the host countries.

  1. The Challenges and limitations facing diaspora communities

This part assesses and analyzes the challenges and obstacles that could face the diaspora communities and hinder their actions and contributions in the host countries. These obstacles and challenges could arise from the policies of the governments of the host countries, or from the diaspora communities themselves. This part discusses some of these challenges and obstacles.

One of the greatest challenges that could face diaspora is the heterogeneity of individuals and members forming these diaspora communities and the diversity of targets and the different goals pursued by those members. As well as, the conflict of interest at the international level (between the home and host country), and at the national level (among different stakeholders) or the competition among diaspora groups considers as a huge obstacle that could face diasporas.

There are another obstacle and challenge that could face diaspora communities which is their weak and the low level of trust that these groups have in the host countries institutions, especially among those whose confidence in the institutions of their country of origin was already weak. So such a deep-rooted distrust could affect the role of the diaspora communities in the host countries.

The third obstacle arises from the host countries. As there are still many countries that remain cautious in granting diaspora communities and migrants access to their rights. So in many cases, diaspora communities lack their rights which hinders their actions and role in the host countries.

In the implementation phase, the diaspora organizations could be not able to implement their projects due to some policies and rules in the host countries that could these organizations are obligate to delay the implementation of their projects. As if the host countries do not put clear strategies and plans in dealing with these communities, this will be an obstacle for them. For instance, in many cases, the host countries do not put any plan to identify and manage the recourses that they could offer to the diaspora organizations and countries also do not prepare the environment for them, so these communities could face many difficulties in the implementation phase of their projects.

The members of diaspora communities could cause challenges that could hinder their actions while implementing their projects. If these communities do not have a clear vision, tasks, and goals and if there is a conflict of interest among members of the diaspora, then they could not be able to be effective while implementing their projects.

Another obstacle that could face diaspora communities is the negative perception and image that is perceived by the members of their new society. As the members of the receiving society could have a negative and bad perception about the migrants or refugees. This could increase the problems inside the society such as racism.

4.Comprehensive Recommendations for the host countries, and diaspora communities. 

Based on the previous analysis, this part can come up with comprehensive recommendations analysis for both the diaspora organizations and the host countries.

4.1. Recommendations for the Host countries.

 

a- As mentioned above that the trust among migrants and members of diaspora organizations is weak in the host countries. So it will be much better if the governments of the host countries work on building trust with migrants. The governments of host countries can build trust with migrants through adopting and implementing policies that ensure the recognition of existing diaspora initiatives, the recognition of the members of those diasporas as full citizens, recognition of their inputs. As well as, the governments of host countries should focus on addressing the main problems and obstacles facing these communities and adopt policies to overcome these problems.

b- The governments of the host countries should work on granting the members of diaspora communities and migrants full access to some rights and provide them with services such as granting them dual citizenship, voting and property rights, pension and social security benefit transfers, and formalizing the double belonging of diaspora, But as mentioned above, many countries still remain cautious on this issue. So it will be much better if the host countries working on and managing how to grant diaspora communities their rights.

c- In order for the diaspora communities to become more effective in the implementation phase of their projects, the government of the host countries should adopt and implement some policies aiming at 1-managing and identifying the resources they can offer to the diaspora communities. 2 overcoming the competition among diaspora and conflict of interest at national and international level. Most importantly, it will be much better if the governments of the host countries adopt policies focus on building the partnership between the home and host country, and between diaspora, private sector, NGOs, and other associations.

d- The governments of receiving countries must recognize their important and central role in creating a suitable and enabling environment in which the diaspora communities can undertake their activities that have significant effects and implications on the development process of the host countries. The receiving country must provide support and advice for these communities. In addition, Governments must leave the ownership of the initiatives to diaspora communities themselves and give priority to diaspora concerns.

e- The governments of receiving countries must promote and favor positive consideration of diaspora communities as development and strategic actors not only in the country of origin but also in the county of destination. The receiving countries can promote this positive image of diaspora communities through media and undertaking comprehensive cultural activities aiming at socially integrate immigrants into their new society.

 

4.2. Recommendations for the diaspora organizations themselves

 

a- The diaspora organizations must develop a core mission and vision and they must have a clear vision, goals, and moral value. As in some cases, diaspora organizations work far outside their core mission, and others may be interested in expanding their capacity. It is also important that all the members of diaspora communities must agree on these goals and mission and to have a common interest in order to avoid the conflict of interest between them

b- The diaspora organizations must work effectively with other actors including the government of the receiving country, NGOs, the private sector, and other associations.

 

 

 References

Cochrane, F. (2015). Migration and security in the global age: Diaspora communities and conflict. Routledg

Ionescu, D. (2006). Engaging diasporas as development partners for home and destination countries: challenges for policymakers (pp. 1-85). Geneva: International Organization for Migration

Ong’ayo, A. O. (2016). Diaspora organisations and their development potential. An Analysis of Ghanaian Diaspora Organizations in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, Discussion Paper, (200)

Taylor, J., Rubin, J., Giulietti, C., Giacomantonio, C., Tsang, F., Constant, A.& Naghsh Nejad, M. (2014). Mapping Diasporas in the European Union and the United States. IZA