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Number of migrants from Pakistan is increasing

Updated December 11, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The number of migrants and refugees travelling from Pakistan along the Central and Eastern Mediterranean routes for asylum and jobs in parts of Eastern Europe has been increasing since 2016, and majority of such people are from Punjab followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

A profile of Pakistani migrants released by the UN’s agency, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), shows the Pakistani migrants interviewed in Italy prevalently come from Punjab — 72 per cent in 2016 and 76pc in 2017, with small shares also from the FCT, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly the northern region along the border with Afghanistan, Peshawar and other areas.

Pakistani respondents on the Eastern Mediterranean route also come mostly from Punjab (54pc in 2016 and 63pc in 2017), followed by almost a quarter coming from KP (23pc to 24pc), from Balochistan and other parts of the country.

Read: 'I'd rather die than be sent to Turkey' — Why Pakistani migrants prefer Greece's hellish camps

The number of Pakistani nationals interviewed in 2016 was 1,253 — 93pc of whom have been met by the IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) data collectors along the Eastern Mediterranean route. The remaining migrants were interviewed in Italy.

In 2017 so far, 1,328 Pakistani nationals were interviewed; 71pc in Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, while the remaining 29pc surveyed in Italy, either in locations close to disembarkation points in the South or in Friuli Venezia Giulia, the North-Eastern region at the border with Slovenia.

Among migrants interviewed on the Central Mediterranean route about reasons for leaving their country, 90pc reported to have left Pakistan because of fear of violence or personal persecution; 12pc reported war or conflict; and 11pc reported economic reasons.

On the Eastern Mediterranean route, 53pc respondents reported to have left their home country due to economic reasons, while 32pc because of fear of violence or persecution, and 26pc because of war or conflict in the country.

Secondary migration

Most respondents on the Central Mediterranean route in 2016 and 2017 engaged in secondary migration, starting the journey after having spent one year or more in a country different from Pakistan. On the Eastern Mediterranean route however, Pakistani respondents who engaged in secondary migration were a minority but growing between the two years.

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The difference between the two routes is due to two main factors: in Italy, Pakistanis either have been interviewed in Friuli Venezia Giulia — a region in the North which received secondary flow of migrants entering by land from the Balkans and from Austria and Germany — or in the South of Italy close to disembarkation places where they arrived after having spent long periods in Libya.

Indeed, departure countries for these migrants who have spent one year or more in a place before restarting the journey were mainly Germany (37pc), followed by Libya (22pc), Turkey (12pc), Greece (7pc) and Austria (7pc).

Migrants, who departed from a Central European country, decided to move to Italy to try to apply for asylum there after they failed in regularising their position elsewhere in Europe. Sixty-one per cent of these migrants were reported to have spent from one to two years in the departure country, while the rest spent two to three years or more than that. Only 2pc of the Pakistanis in Italy reported to have been forcibly returned to Italy under the Dublin-III Regulation (country of first entry).

On the Eastern Mediterranean route instead, migrants who have spent more than one year in a country different from Pakistan reported to have departed mainly from Greece (70pc) or Turkey (18pc) after having spent there one or two years in more than half of the cases (53pc), stopped by route closure and difficulties to move forward.

The rest spent in the departure country two to three years or more than that.

About the level of education, the analysis shows that Pakistani migrants reported to have achieved a secondary education level in more than half of the cases, followed by 23pc with a primary education, 7pc with tertiary education and 11pc without formal education.

Migrants interviewed in 2017 have reported a lower education level on average, with 14pc without formal education compared to 8pc of those interviewed in 2016 and only 4pc with tertiary education compared to 10pc of those in 2016’s sample. Migrants interviewed in Italy reported a lower education level than those interviewed on the Eastern Mediterranean route on average, with a higher share of migrants who reported to have no formal education (17pc versus 10pc).

Most respondents reported to be single (72pc in 2016 and 76pc in 2017), followed by those who reported to have been married (27pc in 2016, 23pc in 2017). Around one per cent of the total either was divorced, widowed or did not answer.

In 2017, 28pc of those interviewed in Italy and 17pc on the Eastern Mediterranean route reported to have at least one child. Ninety-one per cent of those who reported to be parent said that children were left in the country of origin, while 8pc were travelling together with them and 1pc have them in another country.

The employment status before departure differs between Pakistani migrants interviewed in Italy and those interviewed along the Eastern Mediterranean route. In Italy, most respondents (55pc) reported to have been employed at the time of departure from the country of origin or habitual residence, with an additional 7pc who reported to have been self-employed, 11pc being a student and 26pc unemployed.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2017