Nearly half of Jordanian, Sudanese and Tunisians want to emigrate

Arab Barometer finds economic reasons the main factors behind people's desire to leave

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Nearly half of Jordan, Tunisia and Sudan's populations want to move abroad, a study has found, as a global economic crisis continues to bite.

A poll by the Arab Barometer of 23,000 people in 10 countries across the Mena region found young, well-educated men were most likely to want to leave.

A nurse holds an Arabic placard that reads: ‘Doctors are migrating, we cannot continue like this’, on a protest against deteriorating economic conditions, outside the Central Bank in Beirut, Lebanon. AP

More than a third also say they consider emigrating from Lebanon (38 per cent), Iraq (35 per cent), and Morocco (34 per cent).

Forty-eight per cent of Jordanians surveyed said they had considered moving abroad, of which 93 per cent of those cited the country's economic situation as the main reason. This was a trend across the board, the pollsters said, with half of those surveyed saying they wanted to emigrate "because of the economic conditions".

Security, political and educational factors were also reasons for those considering moving elsewhere, the study said.

But where people want to move to differed.

"In no country is there a majority choosing one country as a preferred destination," the report released on Thursday read. It said several factors were at play in making the decision.

"These factors include historical trends of migration, language, proximity and perceived opportunities," it sad. "While Jordanians, Lebanese and Mauritanians prefer a move to North America, Egyptians and Sudanese prefer a Gulf country. North Africans tend to choose France or another European country as their preferred destinations."

Some nations bucked the trend, though. In Egypt, the study found only13 per cent of respondents wished to emigrate.

There has also been an upwards trend in the number of people wanting to emigrate since 2018-2019 in comparison to this year’s study — but only in some countries.

In Lebanon, particularly after the Beirut port blast, subsequent economic collapse and political turmoil, that number jumped by 12 per cent in 2021-2022.

Palestinian refugees living in dilapidated camps in Lebanon told The National that even they were seeking a better standard of living abroad amid worsening economic conditions and stifling unemployment. That number rose significantly between 2020-2022, said Abdelnaser Elayi, project manager at the inter-ministerial Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee.

Tunisia, too, has experienced a steady rise in the number of people wanting to leave the country to settle abroad since the 2011 uprising.

In May, the International Organisation for Migration said up to 600 people attempting to leave Tunisia and Libya went missing at sea from January to March of this year alone.

The numbers reached their highest in 12 years, the IOM said. Several incidents of capsized boats, with dozens and sometimes up to a 100 people aboard, are reported almost weekly.

Despite a higher cost of living in Egypt, however, 15 per cent fewer people said they wanted to immigrate than they did in 2018-2019.

Updated: July 21, 2022, 3:19 PM
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