Migration, Citizens of the World

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Living in a country and being exposed to a unique way of doing things, behaving, eating and living are the main essences of our cultural diversity. Each nationality is just a combination of many years of human behavior learning and development, but what does it mean to have a nationality?  

In sociology, the study of human society's development, structure, and functioning, nationality refers to your country of citizenship. That is, in most cases, the country in which you were born and live. 

However, sometimes the word nationality is wrongly used to define ethnicity; the two are very different. People can share the same nationality but be of different ethnic groups. Likewise, people who share an ethnic identity can be of different nationalities.

Let's fragment these concepts for better understanding. 

  • Nationality: Country of citizenship
  • Citizenship: being a citizen of a particular country and protected under that country's rights, laws, and privileges for which you have a civil obligation. 
  • Ethnicity: a social group that shares a common and distinctive culture, religion, or language. For example, being Hispanic. Hispanics share the Spanish language and general cultural identity, with some geographical differences, but can be of any race. 
  • Migrant: a person who moves from one place to another, especially to find work or better living conditions.
  • Asylum Seeker: a person who has left their home country as a political refugee seeking asylum in another. 
  • Political Refugee: a refugee from an oppressive government.
  • Refugee: a person who has been forced to leave their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.


Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reducing Inequality within and Among Countries

Now that we have defined the basics, let's explore the UN Sustainable Development Goal 10, which aims at reducing inequality within and among countries. Goal target 10.7 calls for developing well-managed migration policies that are equal for all, ending discrimination and allowing access to basic human needs to disadvantaged groups around the world. 

By mid-2020, the number of people who had fled their countries running from war, conflict, persecution, and human rights violations had grown to 24 million, the highest number on record. That is 24 million people who have left their homes behind in search of a better life. 

Reportedly in 2019, more than half of 111 Governments with available data reported having a comprehensive migration policy. This policy allowed them to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people. However, further examination might be required as the data collection techniques varied significantly amongst the countries. 


Refugees Today - A Global Issue 

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHRC.org, reported (Oct 2021) that 32 Afghan asylum-seekers, including women and children, were stranded in border areas between Belarus and Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, just a few days ago. Some have spent weeks in increasingly bad and freezing conditions in the border regions and are being repeatedly pushed back when they attempt to cross borders and prevented from applying for asylum. UNHCR warned today that their situation will further deteriorate as winter approaches.

The agency has urged the countries concerned to abide by their international legal obligations to provide access to asylum for those seeking it at their borders.

However, situations like this happen more often than none. In many areas of the world, people are faced with obstacles and barriers when seeking refuge in other countries. Also, in some instances, citizens are afraid of refugees and their impact on their local communities. This fear leads to discrimination, and discrimination leads to conflict. 

Governments need to create clear pathways to guarantee peaceful agreements that protect refugees and their country's citizens. More and better communication, as well as clear goals and procedures, are urgently needed. 


When you are the Immigrant: Things to Consider 

Moving or visiting y is not as easy as packing up and leaving. In most cases, even when you are going on holiday, you need to make sure you have the required paperwork to enter and stay in a country legally. 

All migrants looking to enter a country will need to apply for permission in advance. For some countries, you need a VISA before you enter, even if just visiting. A VISA is an endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country. Additionally, when moving into another country, you also need to consider "Work permits", which allow you to work legally and pay taxes. Breaking these conditions is regarded as an illegal act. 

Migration policies usually are there to protect both the migrants and the country's citizens. Therefore, a migration policy must include laws, regulations, decisions, or orders regarding the selection, admission, settlement, and deportation of foreign citizens residing in the country.

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Thinking Cap On: 

Ask your friends or family if they have travelled or migrated to another country to tell you about the barriers and opportunities they faced when making that decision. Is there a country you'd like to visit one day? Do some research about the entry requirements and compare them to those in the country where you live.