Behind The Explosion of Human Migration

Tsuneo Yamazaki: Behind the Explosion of Human Migration

The August 2019 issue of National Geographic reports the following:

The United Nations estimates that more than a billion people – one in seven humans alive today – are voting with their feet, migrating within their countries or across international borders. Millions are fleeing violence: war, persecution, criminality, political chaos. Many more, suffocated by poverty, are seeking economic relief beyond their horizons. The roots of this colossal new exodus include a globalized market system that tears apart social safety nets, a pollutant-warped climate, and human yearnings supercharged by instant media. In sheer numbers, this is the largest diaspora in the long history of our species …

Escaping from Danger, Feeding Family and The Heartbeat

According to currently accepted science of human history, some humans started to move out of Africa ~70,000 years ago and had spread to Australia, Asia and Europe by 40,000 BCE. Migration to Americas took place between 20,000 and 15,000 BCE. We cannot pinpoint the exact reasons why they moved out of Africa, nor can we understand the scope of the migration scale itself. I can imagine that the migration was due to a need to escape from danger, or to feed the family/community, or to satisfy their human curiosity to see a different world.

Today, we have similar situations. The difference between then and now is that of the worldwide population scale. Consider the following worldwide populations as compiled by McEvedy and Jones:

  • 4 million in 10,000 BCE
  • 170 million in 1 CE
  • 265 million in 1,000 CE
  • 545 million in 1,600 CE
  • 6 billion in 2,000 CE, 19 years ago.

and now in a short 19 years we are at 7 billion!

When discussing “escaping from danger,” the recent eruption of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state is causing the Rohingya people (Muslim and non-Buddhist) suffering on a catastrophic scale. There are more than 1.3 million refugees in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar which has the densest concentration of refugees in the world. These are mostly women and children traumatized by gunshots, landmines and fires and abuses. Originally the Rohingya people came from Bengal (Bangladesh) during a trade era of hundreds of years with Myanmar (British Burma). These traders and workers stayed in Myanmar but the local people did not want them in their neighborhood for a long time. Rohingyas are not recognized as Myanmar citizens, nor recognized as citizens from Bangladesh. They have no state, and therefore they are systematically discriminated.

When discussing “feeding family,” the very country of Bangladesh that is refusing to accept Rohingya people, is shipping their citizens all over the world. People of Bangladesh want to leave their own country to seek a better economic life elsewhere. Every year, almost 500,000 people leave the country to work abroad. Bangladesh’s economy depends on the emigrants’ remittances. In 1976, only 6,000 people left to work abroad. Since then, the number of both temporary expatriate workers and permanent out-migrants has increased dramatically. From 2005 to 2010 alone, the Persian Gulf States attracted more than 1.5 million Bangladesh workers, that is 52 percent of all international movements from Bangladesh. Most of them migrated to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (647,000), Saudi Arabia (523,000), and Qatar (154,000). The root cause lies in a simple calculation, one where these workers get ~13 times more money abroad than working in Bangladesh. As long as these huge income gaps exist the trend will continue. The situation is not unique to the Rohingyas, nor is the sentiment. Countries that enjoy better economic conditions are a magnet for the Rohingyas of other countries and cultures with a resultant similar problem like the Rohingya experienced in Myanmar: anti-migration.

The Heartbeat: Our Curiosity and Creativity

Today, huge masses – mostly from Latin America, South Asia, and Africa – are migrants both within and across the continents. According to Tukufu Zuberi, Lasry Family Professor of Race Relations and Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies: On a worldwide level, he explains, dramatic immigration shifts are going to create radical changes in the identity of populations. The influx of nonwhite groups into the U.S. and Europe—particularly the U.S., France, the U.K., and Germany—has whites there “singing an anti-immigrant note.” 

Demographic studies show that the U.S. will become a “minority majority” population in the 21st century, meaning that nonwhites will comprise the majority of the U.S. population.

“White Europeans displaced the indigenous peoples here and also brought in a large group of enslaved individuals from Africa. Now whites are being displaced,” he said. 

Michael Jones-Correa, Professor of Political Science says that in the U.S. and Europe, “we are seeing the rise of these openly anti-immigrant parties that are willing to pay fairly high costs—in the case of the U.K., actually pulling back out of the EU—in order to, as they would put it, regain control of their borders.” He is seeing Brexit as white-controlling country as UK’s motivation before becoming controlled by non-white. This is their sense of emergency.

There are many motivations for people to migrate. The escape to safer place is one, the improvement of financial status is the other. Outside of these reasons include private curiosity to see another world and improve oneself in the new world of opportunity. In recent years technology made it possible for anyone to seek jobs and to emigrate to the other side of the planet for his life satisfaction. One of the crucial factors is to be able to live creatively in a different country by using the challenger’s full capacity. This is the heartbeat, the core of human life. We could die to get this.

Our life is not easy to live anywhere in this world. When there is a strong force to migrate, there is also a strong force to stop the migration. Once white Europeans displaced indigenous people in Americas, now they are resisting the same immigration they used to promote against non-white immigrants. According to our science, we have all the same ancestors from Africa ~70,000 years ago, but many of us do not believe this science. We are intuitively color conscious and color protective – us vs. them. Maybe we are simply following our intuition by not trusting genetic science due to a reason that our social development is slow to adopt the migration reality.