UN World Youth Report



WYR 2013 Chapter Four


The experiences of migrant youth in destination societies vary greatly owing to differences in migration motives, gender and migration status. Pre-arrival and post-arrival experiences are crucial, as together they determine whether the migration process will have a positive or negative impact on the migrants.

Foreign-born immigrants, who come to a new country for education, employment, skill development, adventure, or family reunification, often encounter challenges ranging from communication barriers to exploitation and abuse. Internal migrants have very different experiences, with most challenges centred on an ambivalent sense of personal identity.

The difficulties youth migrants encounter on arrival or in the short term usually differ from the long-term challenges they face as they settle into destination societies. Recent arrivals are likely to experience culture shock and loneliness. They often face problems finding accommodations and employment, overcoming communication barriers, coping with different weather conditions, and dealing with transportation issues. In the long term, they may face stereotyping, discrimination and abuse at work or in society at large. These challenges may interfere with their social and economic integration and limit their opportunities for development on a multitude of levels.

Social networks, both personal and institutional, often play an important role in facilitating the social and economic integration of youth migrants in destination societies. Establishing connections in new places helps newcomers settle in, while maintaining ties with their countries of origin eases the transition to a new place and provides emotional continuity. Young migrants lacking access to such support systems tend to experience slower or less effective integration and are more likely to be subjected to abuse and exploitation.

In this chapter, young international and internal immigrants share the challenges they have faced in finding housing, securing employment, accessing healthcare services, and generally adapting to life in a new locale. The chapter also offers some insight into their remittance behaviour and the challenging decision to stay abroad or return home to their countries of origin.





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The UN Focal Point on Youth aims to build awareness of the global situation of young people, as well as promote their rights and aspirations, working toward greater participation of young people in decision-making as a means for achieving peace and development.

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