Wednesday, 20 January 2021

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The migrants who built a city

Bargny Senegal - Flickr image

Ourossogui used to be a small village in Senegal. Today, the village in the northern parts of Senegal has grown into a flourishing town, owing much thanks to its migrants who left for France in the 70's.

A health clinic, a high school for 800 students, water pumps and solar panels – are all projects that have been built thanks to remittances that are channelled through a well-organized association of villagers now residing in France.

Franc Cfa Senegal - Photo UNRIC

“Most of the members of the association contribute € 5 a month. But when there’s a specific project, we come together, discuss the budget and increase the amounts”, says one of the villagers interviewed recently on French television. “Everyone gives a little. With these many “littles”, we end up having a lot.”

Migrants to Europe have been confronted by repeated tragedies with 3,771 people losing their lives crossing the Mediterranean in 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration, (IOM).

One thing is however clear: people don´t risk their lives for nothing. The money being sent home by migrants is one of the reasons for the large movements of peoples Europe has experienced in the last few years. Indeed, remittances - about € 465 billion a year - exceed the total amount of foreign aid in the world.

Today, France hosts 300 000 Senegalese migrants, who in 2014 sent home a total of 428 million euros in remittances.Remittance flows to Senegal amount to € 1,527 million and represent 11,7% of Senegal’s GDP. According to the World Bank, remittances from migrants abroad have become a viable means for developing countries to finance their development and reduce poverty.

UN Together Campaign Logo

The United Nations has repeatedly called for orderly and regularised migration and mobility, including legal pathways for migrants. On 19 September 2016, the previous UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, launched the TOGETHER campaign at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, a campaign destined to highlight the economic, cultural and social contributions that migrants and refugees make to countries of origin, transit and destination.

“It is important to let the positive side of migration be told”, says IOM Director-General, William Lacy Swing. “What it is they are doing, how they’ve succeeded, what they left behind, and all the stories, too, of these social remittances they bring home, the contributions they make in investment and trade, in addition to the remittances, which is about 500 billion a year, which in its totality is more than all of foreign aid – so, we need to let them tell their story.”

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