UN World Youth Report

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WYR 2013 Chapter Five

Barriers to Youth Engagement in Destination Countries

Barriers to youth engagement in destination countries


Although some young migrants participate in social and civic activities in destination countries, others are reluctant to do so because they feel that many of these activities are not immigrant-friendly. As shown below, some social activities are structured in a way that inhibits migrant participation.

Youth Voices- Experience of Social Activities

Anonymous, female, aged 26-29 years, Ireland → Netherlands: [There are] language barriers. Everybody speaks English, making it very difficult to practice speaking Dutch, yet sometimes, when you attend social events, you are made to feel as though you should be making a better effort to learn Dutch.

Anonymous, aged 26-29 years, student migrant, Thailand: Sometimes I felt I was not part of an activity, as it was designed mostly for local people.

Youth migrants also hesitate to become involved in social affairs because they have experienced unfair treatment in their host countries, including discrimination, xenophobic and racist remarks, and stereotyping.

Youth Voices on Discrimination

Anonymous, female, aged 26-29 years,Thailand → United Kingdom: I have experienced ... unfair treatment before in the United Kingdom in my attempts to participate in civic activities when people mocked my Asian language and some shouted at me to “go home”. Those [episodes] were not severe and did not involve any physical harm, but it hurt to hear such words.

Anonymous, female, 26-29 years, Germany → France: They are generally an unfriendly people, and some are openly hostile to foreigners, making it difficult to engage in social and civic activities.

The lack of time and financial resources are factors that may limit social and civic engagement. Since most young migrants have an economic motive for leaving their places of origin, they generally choose to work and save their money rather than spending it on discretionary social activities.

Youth Voices: Barriers to Participation

Anonymous, female, aged 19-25 years, Kenya → United Kingdom: Time and cost limitations were some of the barriers to my effective participation, and I have observed this same challenge for other immigrants.

Mursi, male, aged 26-29 years, Romania → Sudan: Sometimes there are fees required before participating, which is a challenge.

Giedre, female, aged 19-25 years, Lithuania → Austria: I don't have time [for civic participation] because I have to work and study.


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