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“EITHER PASS OR PERISH”: INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION AND YOUTH ASPIRATION IN OROMIA [Abstract ID: 1002-12]
Ethiopia is the hub of international migrations in the Horn of Africa. With its geostrategic location, the country is very important as source, transit and destination of international migration. Annual emigration from Ethiopia is estimated to be around half a million of which 60-70% are irregular migrants who use different land and sea routes and networks. Recently, migration and cross-border human mobility has become one of the top global concerns in development and security agendas. On the one hand, the attention migration has been given at the global, regional and national level including its inclusion in the 2030 UN agenda for sustainable development and a number of other initiatives such as EU trust fund confirms and reinforces the importance of relations between migration and development. On the other hand, in the context of contemporary “migration and refugee crises” in the Middle East, Horn of Africa, the Mediterranean region and beyond compounded with the expansion of religious extremism and terrorist practices, unregulated migration is chiefly seen as a major national security concern of the developed countries. In view of this, multilateral and bilateral development stakeholders as well as international organizations working on migration suggest allocating resources to areas considered major sources of migration for employment creation as part of their endeavour to stop migration. The Ethiopian government’s public discourse in relation to migration, however, emphasizes “human trafficking” rather than trying to understand why the youth migrate in this large numbers. Both, the simplistic perspective that equalizes migration with poverty, and the government’s criminalization of migration, do not give due attention to understanding the migrants’ point of view. In this paper, based on fieldwork conducted in three districts considered the major sources of migration in Oromia National Regional State that contributes about one third of migration from Ethiopia, it is argued that migration decision making is a complex phenomenon that cannot be explained by such simplistic variables. The paper will discuss these complex and multiple factors.