UN World Youth Report

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WYR 2013 Chapter Two

Chapter Two: Preparing to migrate

A young person’s decision to migrate can be influenced by different factors, such as by the desire for a better life or by the need to escape poverty, political persecution, or family/community pressures. Translating plans into action requires a substantial amount of preparation.

The role of the family

There is considerable research on the role of the family in decisions relating to youth migration. Some researchers argue that it is an individual’s characteristics (such as life-cycle stage, attachment to place, social capital and environmental values) and the rational expectation of being better off elsewhere that drive migration decisions. This approach implies that the decision to migrate is a personal rather than a collective decision. Other researchers argue, however, that the individualist model is unrealistic, considering the complexity of migration and the potential role of social networks in reducing the costs and risks of migration. In the collectivist model, the family is recognized as the primary decision-making unit. This is true whether young people plan to migrate alone, with their parents, or with others inside or outside their kinship group.

The need for information during migration planning and preparation

Information is essential for youth planning to venture, quite literally, into unknown territory. At the pre-migration stage, young people need to know how to obtain a visa, choose and secure a means of travel, and make accommodation arrangements in transit and destination countries. Nowadays, many potential youth migrants have access to mobile phones, the Internet and other ICT tools to obtain travel-related information, to communicate with others in destination societies, and to acquire important information about the socio-economic conditions and lifestyle in the areas where they plan to live.

Challenges at the pre-migration stage

Many young people are excited at the prospect of leaving home to settle in another place. However, the period leading up to their departure may present a variety of challenges. One of the challenges cited most often by participants in the online consultations and survey was the difficulty youth faced in obtaining accurate information about their intended destination. One refugee offered her views on what could be done to improve the pre-migration process for youth.

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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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