More than half of young Arabs want to emigrate

Students at a graduation ceremony at the University of Rabat in February. A survey found 70 percent of young Moroccans wanted to leave the country. (Reuters/File photo)
Updated 24 June 2019

More than half of young Arabs want to emigrate

  • Some 70 percent of young Moroccans express desire to leave their country
  • The Gulf is the number one choice for Egyptians, Yemenis, and Sudanese

LONDON: More than half the young people in much of the Arab world would like to leave their home countries, a survey conducted by BBC Arabic has found.

That number has jumped by more than 10 percent for those aged 18-29 since 2016, according to the Big BBC News Arabic Survey 2018/19, conducted with the Arab Barometer research group. The survey received responses from more than 25,000 people aged 18 and over in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Yemen, Jordan, Iraq, Sudan, and Lebanon.

One of the survey’s most striking figures showed that 70 percent of young Moroccans were thinking about leaving their country. 

Almost half of those surveyed in Sudan, Jordan and Morocco — and a third of those in Iraq — are considering emigrating. Although Europe is the overwhelming choice for North Africans, the number of people in other countries in the region who want to go to Europe has fallen since previous surveys. 

The Gulf is the number one choice for Egyptians, Yemenis, and Sudanese, whilst North America is top of the wish list for people in Jordan and Lebanon.

Participants in the survey “seem to be turning away from Europe and towards North America and the Gulf, and that’s perhaps because the Gulf has been opening its doors a little bit more in recent years,” said Rosie Garthwaite, senior producer at BBC News Arabic. 

The number of people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea and seek refuge in Europe surged in the last eight years — peaking in 2016. Many of those migrants were fleeing violence in Syria and Iraq, but there were also large numbers of Afghans, North Africans and people from sub-Saharan Africa making the journey.

Overall, there has been an increase in the number of people who are considering emigration since 2013 in Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt, the survey said. However, there has been a decrease in the number in Palestine, Algeria, Sudan, Yemen, and Lebanon. Rates in the latter have “declined substantially over the past decade,” the survey said. 

Often the desire to leave is fueled by a decline in the economic situation in the region, the report stated: “Economic factors are the predominant reason for emigration followed by corruption, and men are more likely than women to consider emigrating, especially in Egypt.” 

Arab countries had the highest youth unemployment rates in the world in 2018, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Conflict and instability in Yemen, Palestine, Sudan, Algeria, Libya and Iraq has increased economic deterioration.

The ILO says that around 20 percent of people aged 15-24 in Morocco were unemployed in 2018, and according to the survey a significant minority of people there “want more rapid or sudden (political) change, particularly young people.”

In Jordan and Lebanon, economies have been battered by the fallout from violence in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

Jordan has taken in hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and has the second-highest share of refugees compared to population in the world. At the same time, tax hikes introduced to meet International Monetary Fund (IMF) targets to reduce Jordan’s debt burden triggered widespread protests in 2018.

Since 2011, Lebanon has taken in 1.5 million Syrians and Palestine refugees from Syria, accounting for 30 percent of Lebanon's population, the world’s highest concentration per capita of refugees according to the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department.

Meanwhile, Yemen, Sudan, and Libya featured in the 10 most corrupt countries in the world according to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2018.


Algerian court jails protesters over election

Updated 33 min 15 sec ago

Algerian court jails protesters over election

ALGIERS: An Algerian court has jailed four protesters for 18 months for disrupting a candidate’s campaign for the Dec. 12 presidential election which is opposed by a mass protest movement.
The court sentenced the four on Monday after protests on Sunday in the western city of Tlemcen, where one of the five candidates, Ali Benflis, was campaigning. No details were available on what their exact actions were.
Algeria’s authorities are trying to quell a protest movement that erupted in February to demand the departure of the country’s ruling hierarchy, an end to corruption and the army’s withdrawal from politics.
The army, which has emerged as the most powerful institution in the country, has pushed for next month’s election as a means to end the protests and restore normality. The former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, quit in April.
The judgment comes a week after a series of other prison sentences were handed down to protesters who had raised flags with Berber symbols during earlier demonstrations.
Several opposition leaders have also been held during the protests, and charged with contributing to damaging army morale.
However, the authorities have also detained numerous current and former senior officials on corruption charges, and have jailed some of them including the once untouchable former intelligence chief.
The protesters have rejected any presidential election carried out now, saying the continued presence of Bouteflika allies in the upper echelons of the government mean it cannot be free or fair.
Human Rights Watch said last week that the arrest of scores of protesters looked like “part of a pattern of trying to weaken opposition to Algeria’s interim rulers and their determination to hold presidential elections.”