- Mali has lost around 13 percent of its population to emigration, a new report reveals. While the dream of many Malians is reaching Europe, the vast majority of emigrants end up all around West Africa.
According to a migration profile of Mali released today by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), the landlocked West African country is essentially a country of emigration, although increasing numbers of irregular migrants appear to transit through Mali on their way to Europe via the Maghreb countries.
According to the report, demographic growth, poverty, increased unemployment and difficult climatic conditions including recurring droughts continue to push many Malians to migrate internally from rural to urban areas, within the West African region and beyond.
Based on a 2000 census, the IOM report estimates the number of Malian abroad to be in excess of 1,5 million, representing around 13 percent of Mali's total population. Out of these emigrants, 32 percent are living and working in Côte d'Ivoire, 28 percent in Burkina Faso, 10 percent in Guinea, 6 percent in Nigeria and 5 percent in Ghana.
"The remainder are thought to be employed in OECD countries, primarily in industry, construction; agriculture and fishing," the report says. "Most of them have a low level of education."
However, the IOM report notes that Mali is confronted with a certain brain drain, since 15 percent of Malian university graduates emigrated during the 1995-2005 period. In the health sector, 23 percent of Malian doctors and 15 percent of nurses found employment in 9 developed countries, with France remaining the favoured destination.
Despite the country's political commitment in favour of regional integration, the report notes that immigration to Mali remains very limited with an estimated 164,000 migrants representing just 1,4 percent of the total population in 2005. Immigration to Mali is mostly regional, with migrants coming from Burkina Faso (23 %), Ghana (13 %), Guinea (10 %), Benin (9 %) and Niger (8 %).
Although data on transit migration remained scarce, in particular regarding illegal migrants, the IOM report states that "Mali seems to have become an important point of passage, with routes linking countries in Central and West Africa to the Maghreb and Libya."
As for remittances, they reached US$ 212 million in 2007, representing 3.3 percent of Mali's GDP. Although remittances were mostly used to improve the living conditions of families left behind, the emergence of structured migrants' associations had increased the share of funds used for social and productive investments, the report noted.
In the Western region of Kayes, the report notes that migrants' associations in France have funded over the past decade more than 220 community projects in dozens of villages.
The IOM profile says that the government of Mali has achieved some success in drawing on the expertise of its Diaspora by encouraging the return of qualified migrants through programmes such as the UNDP implemented Transfer of Knowledge through Expatriate Nationals (TOKTEN) programme.
The report underlines the scarcity of reliable data on migration as the last general population census in Mali and the only specialised survey on migration were undertaken more than ten years ago, and "cannot therefore reflect the current trends." This is despite the efforts of European countries to include Mali in development programmes that aim at limiting desires to emigrate.
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