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Young migrants

Updated September 19, 2017

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SUCH desperation that even a hazardous foray into the unknown seems a chance worth taking is a reality for many Pakistanis.

Harrowing Journeys, a Unicef-IOM report released this week, looks at the circumstances that drive children and young people to make their way to Europe as migrants and refugees along the dangerous Eastern Mediterranean and Central Mediterranean routes. Of those who took the former route, the report interviewed 4,811. Between 14 and 25 years of age, 44pc among them were Afghans; 17pc Pakistanis; 15pc Syrians and 6pc Iraqis.

Others in this category were mainly from the Middle East. Those who took recourse to the Central Mediterranean route were more evenly divided, and included mainly nationals from several African countries. For both categories however, Italy and Germany were the most favoured intended destinations.

Among the findings in the first category, the one that leaps off the page is that of the four countries at the top of the list, Pakistan is the only nation that is not at war.

A further breakdown reveals that 9pc of the Pakistani migrants were uneducated, 26pc had primary education while 59pc were educated up to secondary level. Individuals with higher qualifications comprised only 5pc of the total.

These findings illustrate how the state is failing young Pakistanis, specifically young males who are expected to provide for their families. With the exception perhaps of Baloch youth fleeing their insurgency-hit province or persecuted religious minorities, the Pakistanis in the survey are likely to have undertaken their arduous journey for economic reasons.

It is interesting that a large majority of them have a secondary education, indicating perhaps the limited opportunities that exist for gainful employment in Pakistan’s semi-skilled sectors. Their arduous journey in search of better opportunities is fraught with many risks, especially if they are travelling alone which renders them particularly vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.

That these young people take such a gamble with their life is a sad reflection on the state of governance in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2017