Only 3% of the world population has been living outside their home country. However, it is strong enough to send the other 97% wondering about how it is a crisis. A small percentage engaging in migration may be the reason why we understand so little about the reality of their situation. Migration is a very poor word telling us little about the migrator. The biggest mistake we, as relatively privileged people make when trying to understand today’s (crisis caused) migration, is that we assume the migrants have a choice.
A large proportion of migrants today are helpless. During India’s partition my own grandfather when leaving Rawalpindi at the age of 17, had the option to adapt another religion, which would keep him safer. However, he ‘chose’ to flee to Rawalpindi for refugee camps in India.
We largely put migrators in two categories. First is the legal, free willed one who with a valid passport is snap-chatting their way through the transition. Second is the illegal one who chooses to leave their poor, and war plagued nation to find home in another nation. Whereas the truth is far from what we know, or could possibly even imagine. The person in the second category hardly ever has a choice.
We must remember that many would not leave their home countries in Africa, or the Middle East if they had a choice. Would you ‘willingly’ take a journey into the Mediterranean without nothing but a small bag, after selling everything you own in your home country, for an unreliable boat ride? Probably not. They have no choice but to look for any piece of land that grants them a safe environment. For them the only will left, is the will to live. And if it is not in their own home, but miles away across a tumultuous sea route, then being there may be their only way to survive.
It sounds tragic. Most (or all) of the migrants may not have a choice, and have to leave a war trodden home, and be illegal, unwanted, and subject to hatred. None of which may be their fault. We are all human. But if not in the name of humanity, at least for legal and political purposes let’s try to understand this simple but dreadful reality of migrants today.
To watch a documentary on African migration to Europe titled ‘Can Africa find a home in Germany?’ click here. The documentary is a learning experiment by my friend Sanjana Rastogi and I, for our capstone project in the class of International Relations.