Under increasing pressure from ‘globalization’, traditional boundaries that once signify territorial demarcation among nations continue to vanish as weaker states and their populations succumb to political, social and economic upheavals in Europe. As a result, we continue to witness movement of people in search of ‘Human security’, i.e, people are migrating out of fear of waking up and getting hit by stray bullets, losing one’s job, not having enough to eat or drink, fear of being raped, alienated or discriminated on the basis of ethnicity, religious belief, social status or afraid of being exploited because of lack of education.
In an effort to protect and collectively safeguard their citizens’ interest against these global upheavals, most Western countries engaged into various treaties in order to achieve integration, collective security and economic expansion. Meanwhile, similar amalgamation is taking place in less developed and developing region, albeit, relative variation and minimal emphasis on issues that could protect citizen’s welfare and collective security.
In Liberia, the lack of human security manifested by poverty, the absence of health care, poor living conditions, alienation on the basis of social and ethnic backgrounds and youth unemployment, can lead to movement of people in all shapes and forms: whether as migrants, guest workers or refugees, in search of Human security. “Whenever people lack human security, they seek it anywhere,” noted one scholar.
Troubled by the growing waves of refugees and migrant crisis confronting the EU, a Liberian Peace-building and research organization decided to critically examine the nexus between local excitement for European soccer and the possibility of idled youth embarking on ‘dangerous journey’ to fortress Europe for ‘human Security’.
This Liberian NGO has been thinking on the migration problem evident by the effort to gauge youth perspectives on the migration issue confronting Europe and other Western nations. Platform for Dialogue and Peace in Liberia is a peace building organization that uses participatory action research methodology in the country to constructively identify fault lines and root causes to societal problems before making relevant contributions to building sustainable peace. It could be recalled that this organization recently conducted a study of framework for assessing resilience and it is now looking at the nexus between human security and migration. The current focus is on video club goers to determine the level of interest the youth have in Europe, with key interest in what could possibly make them travel to Europe or the West, particularly as they watch EU soccer amid news of migrant crisis that have permeated Europe through various foreign news outlets.
On one of my usual routines around the city for random information for our news stories, I bumped into P4DP researchers and was impressed with their effort to mitigate unplanned migration. A brief chat with the team leader, Alphonso Woiwor, demonstrates the depth and seriousness this organization attaches to problem concerning youth and society. Initial empirical findings are not only captivating but very critical for the development of robust youth program for the nation. For example, unlike other African countries where youth embark on hazardous journeys for greener pastures, P4DP study shows that in the nine communities across Monrovia where the survey is being conducted, many youth are poised on doing manual and casual labor jobs to sustain their families, such as working on commission with a local mineral sellers, water depot and selling of dry goods including cassava, toothpaste, slippers, cosmetics, vegetables, etc., than taking dangerous journey to Europe. While the ‘dangerous journey’ phenomena is yet to hit Liberian youthful population, some of the youth, especially in ELWA, intoned that they are not better than their colleagues who are braving the storm to cross the Sahara Desert and the
Mediterranean Sea. Through my interaction with the research team, it seems that even though many of our youth may not have the means to travel in large number like the North African counterparts, there is a strong omen that when opportunity avails itself, example human traffickers luring vulnerable young people to pay money for greener pastures, as we have seen in recent times, with the Liberian girls that were trafficked to Lebanon, these young people could do likewise.
According to P4DP’s team, many of the respondents they engaged are saying that though they may not be in the position to travel to Europe in their numbers for now, by watching these European games and seeing developed infrastructures, such as basic social services, educational and business opportunities, and programs that empower youth – such as sport, especially football which they argued does not require one to have a PhD before you can play to make money – they see life better out there than here. Many references were made of several top European players that make money without acquiring PhD.
Other respondents spoken to said though they are made to sell dried goods in the streets, but they are regularly harassed by police officers who at times seize their goods including money as well.
I am informed that the survey population of 22 persons is in the age group of 18-34 years of age and a wider research could be conducted soon.
Sincerely, such undertaking is laudable and worth promoting, if our country is to avoid what we are seeing in other countries. No doubt, targeted training with constructive engagement with society organization like P4DP is essential to ensure sustainable peace and stability in Liberia and the Sub-region.