More than 190 million people in 125 countries all over the world are migrants, according to statistics compiled by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) in 2005.
In southern Africa, migrants fall into different categories. There are forced migrants (asylum seekers and refugees); labor migrants (seasonal and permanent workers; internal migrants; and undocumented migrants (skilled and unskilled); returnees; and internally displaced persons
“Migration and health are inter-related. The same inequalities that drive migration also affect the health of concerned populations. The IOM says there are three broad factors that determine vulnerabilities in labor migrant settings. These are individual, environmental and structural factors. Individual factors include low levels of health seeking behavior and high levels of multiple, concurrent sexual partners, and low consistent use of condoms. Environmental factors include lack of legal immigration status; gender/power dynamics that sometimes lead to transactional sex; cost of transport and accommodation; separation from regular sexual partners; lack of access to health services; boredom due to lack of recreational facilities; poor workplace wellness policies; and lack of targeted and appropriate health information.
Structural factors include poverty or lack of jobs in rural areas; high levels of gender inequalities; demand for seasonal labor; and lack or inappropriate regulation. Different vulnerabilities characterize different stages of the migration process. The pre-migration phase is marked by a variety of factors that might include poverty; lack of basic services; war; human rights violations; and lack of knowledge of conditions in the desired destination.
Challenges faced during the transit phase include lack of basic health necessities; duration of the journey; and traumatic events such as robbery; rape and sexual abuse. Once at the destination, the migrant has to deal with migration policies; social exclusion; discrimination, exploitation; legal status and access to essential services; different language and cultural values; and separation from families and spouses.
Source: Africa Files
Author: Moses Magadza, Pretoria
Researcher/Faculty Evaluator —Peter Phillips
Sonoma State University