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The integration challenge

The gradual shift in wealth of the 2000s has contributed to modifying the geography of international migration. Lower transport costs, better and more accessible information and telecommunication technologies, and the growth of incomes in converging economies have helped diminish the financial constraints on emigration, thus enabling potential migrants to move to more distant destinations and in greater numbers. The number of countries affected by international mobility has significantly increased, resulting in a wide diversification of migration corridors.

This book argues that the integration challenge also applies to a growing number of developing countries, which see the benefits of immigration but also the potential cost in terms of social cohesion. It posits that traditional models of integration are not adapted to the South:

  • • On the one hand, the "assimilation" model lacks relevance, since what is considered as a lack of integration in the North is the normal state of most citizens in the South;
  • • On the other hand, the "multiculturalism" model does not apply, as problems of social cohesion appear to be more connected to internal fractionalisation than nationality.

But even though integration is not at the centre of concerns, the costs of neglecting it are high. Many developing countries do not consider integration a priority, until problems become insuperable and the political situation ruptures. Cote d'Ivoire is a good illustration of how the escalation of nationalism, in this case through the controversial concept of ivoirite, can generate civil unrest and never-ending political crises. The lack of integration policies in the South is often reinforced by discriminatory practices, official and hidden. The high concentration of refugees and migrants stuck in transit in the South contributes to increasing the vulnerability of migrants and the socio-economic costs faced by the "host" society.

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