The UN migration agency chief on Thursday called on host countries to ensure young migrants have access to education.
While migration can offer young people new opportunities, their ability to exploit them depends largely on their host communities and host governments, said Antonio Vitorino, director-general of International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Young migrants are often denied access to training opportunities, vocational as well as academic, or access to all parts of the labor market in the countries of destination, he said when addressing the International Dialogue on Migration at the UN Headquarters in Geneva.
This is particularly problematic for those, who have had their education and careers disrupted by conflict and instability, and who must then recapture years of learning within limbo and catch up to their generation of peers, he said.
From his point of view, what is worse is that many young migrants experienced discrimination in their schools or in their communities, which reduces their prospects for growth as well as their self-esteem.
Ayser Bozan, a Syrian student, poses with her school report on the last day of the first semester in Sanliurfa, January 18, 2019. /VCG Photo
This is a dangerous cycle that we must avoid, said he, urging host governments to welcome those who are in their societies regularly and ensure that they are treated equally and with dignity and full respect for their human rights.
According to the International Labor Organization, youth unemployment in North Africa is expected to exceed 30 percent in 2019 and young people in this region are more than three times more likely to be unemployed than their adult counterparts.
For them, it is easy to reach for migration as a solution, said Vitorino, noting the risk they would take should not be taken at the cost of lives, our livelihoods.
He said that broader access to formal education can reduce vulnerability and increase critical thinking, which helps to reduce susceptibility to smugglers, who seek to persuade young people to take disproportionate and unreasonable risks.
Today there are 1.8 billion young people in the world, marking the largest generation in history, according to figure from IOM. And among the 258 million international migrants, about 11 percent of them were below 24 years old in 2017.