The migratory phenomenon. A challenge of the present that cannot wait any longer

There are no utopias possible when talking about the migratory phenomenon. Not even in a simple exercise of imagination in the future, where the number of boats and deaths at sea will continue to increase and in which a new crisis is not ruled out. That is the vision of those who have experienced one of the worst rebounds of cayucos in the Canary Islands:
Bertin Mballa Juniora young Cameroonian who touched this land just thirty days ago fleeing the adversities of his country,
Jose Antonio Rodriguezregional manager of the Red Cross humanitarian aid teams, and
Mabel Cabrera, volunteer of the citizen platform Somos Red.

The matter is already complex in itself, both due to the repercussions of historical conflicts and the plurality of interests and international organizations involved. To this are added
other factors ranging from desertification to the commitment to integrate migrants.

It is a cocktail for which neither citizens nor politicians or NGOs have the recipe, but they do show in which aspects it is necessary to focus attention to prevent it from exploding.

In this sense, Mballa warns from his own experience that the solution to the phenomenon does not lie in the vision of the European who goes to African land with his own ideas of what and how to do. Rather, the three representatives agree, the international community is just an outstretched hand to help develop their own economies, with minimal intervention.

"Migratory flows are like a large water balloon: if you squeeze it on one side, it comes out the other," Rodríguez explains.
The Canary Islands will continue to be an intermediate point on that journey, which is legitimate, so it is clear that important work needs to be done in the countries of origin to prevent their citizens from wanting to leave."

However, they admit to having certain reservations regarding how diplomatic affairs are developing and, specifically, regarding the situation with Morocco. The repression of the Alawite authorities, the mistrust in the system and the mafias that traffic in people are the main concerns.

"It is true that there is increasing interest in the political sphere to provide solutions, but I am not very optimistic," says Mabel Cabrera, who despite acknowledging these efforts
trust more in the citizen movement. "They have their own deadlines, their treaties and their cabinets, and it seems that there are always other priorities or other more urgent interests."

Social pressure, which is based on street contact and not on decision-making in offices, contributes to degreasing that agenda, they say. For the person in charge of the humanitarian aid teams, the meaning of the organizations lies precisely in
to be able to reach those places where the institutions do not reach, so it also bets on structures that are built from the bottom up.

Thus, these 'three sides' of the same coin coincide in two other fundamental issues to face the challenge of the coming years: the need to combat misinformation on both sides of the ocean and continue raising awareness among the population.

The keys to better integration are training and language, not sitting around doing nothing

"Listening to the story of these people first-hand is very important so that the message is direct," Rodríguez insists, and Mballa points out: "If they knew all the difficulties we are going through, they would not treat us as if we were a problem." Despite this, they are aware that no speech is black or white: there will always be people who empathize and others who consider it a nuisance. “Although I explain it – continues Mballa –
if you don't see it with your own eyes it's hard to accept.

Both the representatives of the Red Cross and of Somos Red have stories and anecdotes to tell: that of that young man who did not wait for "a paper to register" but for a sandwich because he was hungry or that of the player of a national soccer team who traveled with his photo and a medal, assuring that that did not feed him.

The latter is just one example of another reality: qualified profiles are frequently found among the survivors of the canoes. Therefore, they highlight
the need to streamline bureaucracyespecially with regard to training and employment.

Mballa says that most Africans embark with a clear idea of ​​what to do for a living. If the host countries provided opportunities to access the necessary courses, the transition to the labor market would be more fluid.

In some cases, the problem lies in the equivalence of acquired skills or language, they point out. Others, on the other hand, are focused on sports, but the problems to acquire the documentation prevents them from joining the teams. All these 'walls', they agree, could come down relatively easily. "What we cannot do is be locked up in a place doing nothing," concludes the Cameroonian.

Regarding the growing racism, the vaccine is administered in several doses. The media are the main filter and should serve, in his opinion, as a spokesperson for these people
with the aim of raising awareness among the rest of the population. A work that should be accentuated from today.

José Antonio Rodríguez recalls how, during the episode at the Arguineguín pier –where 2,000 people were crowded together– volunteers were recommended to dispense with their identification vests to preserve their own integrity for fear of certain radical groups.

The tension in the context of the pandemic and the blockade in ports and airports were the breeding ground at that time and although they do not think it likely that the same images will be repeated, even today they serve to point to the foreigner as the origin of all evil. A speech that although it is not new, they know they will continue to listen.

In all this context, the Canary Islands once again position themselves in a strategic place that cannot look the other way. The work you are able to do
will serve as an example to other communities with less ties to immigration, but it requires the support of the rest of the country and Europe. In any case, leaving the islands alone will only put a new brake on development and chaos.

Rodríguez, who also lived very closely with the 2006 crisis, explains it with the example of the infrastructures: «They were dismantled because it was thought that no more immigration was going to arrive. Now they think differently and they will invest in what they think is necessary, but it is still a patch for what is to come. It's about getting better little by little."

During this debate, everything seems to have the same common thread: the key to making future commitments is to learn from the mistakes made.

The media, keys to combat hoaxes and hate speech

Decontextualized videos and photographs or false information continuously circulate through social networks in order to generate some tension among citizens. Some practices that certain parties also take advantage of with a vision that is not only biased towards the phenomenon but also prone to criminalizing immigrants. That is why NGOs, citizens and the African community itself recognize the fundamental role played by the media in debunking hoaxes.

They also coincide in constantly offering contrasting data and opinions, easily accessible to the population, as well as highlighting stories of a more human nature. With this, they say, it contributes to fostering empathy with those who cross the sea in a boat and their integration into society, whether in the Canary Islands, the peninsula or another European country. A vision away from the coldness of statistical data.