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Afr Insight. 1994;24(1):60-71.

Migration in southern Africa: a comparative perspective.



Population movement can be described as intra-state, East-West, South-North, and South-South. About 20 million persons globally are considered displaced, of which about 4.1 million are internally displaced persons in South Africa. East-West movement occurred for over 400 million when the Iron Curtain came down. South-North movements of asylum seekers were estimated at 442,000 in 1990. South-South movement amounted to 4 million official refugees in Africa in 1989 and 4.4 million in 1990. African has the largest concentration of refugees. This article does not address the 265,825 contract migrant workers in South Africa. South African migration is the South-South type and can be characterized as "brain-drain" of well-trained professionals in neighboring states and unskilled and illegal migrants from Mozambique and Angola. Movement is pushed or pulled according to sociocultural factors, communications and technology, geographic proximity, precedent, demographic factors, environmental factors, economic factors, and political factors. The effects of migration in South Africa include increased stress on housing, political and social tension, increased costs, overcrowding, transmission of disease, and marginalization of migrants into low status and low paid jobs. For Lesotho migrants in South Africa remittances are a major source of national wealth. South Africa has also experienced racial discord against Mozambicans and Chinese. Political right wing groups mobilize around anti-immigration platforms. Migrants can become policy tools, and many are used in wars of liberation. International attention may focus on mistreatment of refugees. Management can be construed as "carrot" or "stick" approaches. Stick approaches include forced repatriation, limiting immigration, housing in survival-level camps, public campaigns run by host countries in sending countries, or greater control of national borders. South Africa has extensively used stick approaches, which have been only partially successful. Carrot approaches rely on regional integration strategies designed to reduce wage differentials and promote global cooperation. Polycentric and ethnocentric nationalism affect management of migrants as assets or as liabilities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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