UN report: Most Arab youth want to emigrate to Europe, U.S.

Sunday, July 21, 2002

WASHINGTON A United Nations report warns that a majority of older Arab young people want to leave their homelands in favor of the West.

The report by the United Nations Development Program said most Arab young men and women plan to leave their countries and emigrate. They said the favorite destinations are Europe and the United States, Middle East Newsline reported.

Only 13 percent of those wishing to emigrate sought to move to another Arab country, the report, entitled Arab Human Development Report 2002, said. The UN agency said this preference indicates how young Arabs regard their societies.

The report cited lack of education, freedom and job opportunities as the major reasons for emigration. The report said out of seven world regions, the Arab countries had the lowest level of freedom during the late 1990s.

"Remarkably, 51 percent of older youths expressed a desire to emigrate to other countries, clearly indicating their dissatisfaction with current conditions and future prospects in their home countries," the report said.

"Among those contemplating emigration, European countries were the favorite destination [46 percent of respondents, 21 percent of whom chose the United Kingdom alone, followed by the United States and Canada [36 percent], and other Arab countries [13 percent]. The implicit judgement of how liveable these young people consider Arab societies to be is evident."

The report supports growing concerns in Europe, particularly Britain, Germany and France, that North Africa and the rest of the Arab world, will continue be a leading source of immigrants. This concern has fueled the Barcelona Process, or the European Union project to help develop North Africa and the southern Mediterranean region.

The UN report said young men expressed a greater desire than women to emigrate. The older the Arab youngster, the report said, the greater his desire to emigrate.

"In general, the younger youths, particularly girls, seem to be somewhat more attached to their countries and aware of broad social issues such as participation and poverty," the report said. "The expressed priorities of young people for education, together with the influence that education can have on the thinking of young people provide a strong reason to focus, as this report does, on education systems in Arab countries."

The report said Jordan rates highest among Arab countries in the level of freedom of expression and government accountability. Kuwait is second on the list. Qatar is regarded as the most politically stable country followed by Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

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