Migration has always been inherent to the human condition.

Since the beginning of human activity, people migrated mostly out of necessity brought along by famine, droughts, strife, civil war or persecution.

The involvement of governments and international bodies regarding migration issues is a recent phenomenon. This came essentially about in the aftermath of WW II with the foundation of the UN, its humanitarian agencies, the creation of the EU and the coming into being of numerous distinguished NGO’s that keep people and governments aware, informed, motivated and under pressure on the complexities of dealing with migration issues.

I will not talk on recent dramatic events concerning people displaced as a result of drought, famine or war: the massive influx of refugees in the Horn of Africa looking for food and shelter, the continuing wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan resulting in an exodus of tens of thousands of citizens to neighbouring countries, the continuing civilian unrest in Syria with no end in sight, the consequences of the Arab spring on the populations of countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The list goes on and on…

Governments and international agencies are, though very knowledgeable and experienced, more often than not on unchartered territory trying to cope with ever more massive, unexpected and complex migration problems. They face a daunting task and merit our gratitude.

Addressing these events is the subject of a different forum.

I will focus on questions regarding migration every government and every concerned citizen is aware of, more so today than say 10 - 15 years ago, in the hope they will provide food for thought and contribute to the discussion.

I’ll present the main issues on both sides of the argument and illustrate these with government decisions taken in a number of countries across the globe.

First some basic facts:

The challenges:

What goes on in the public opinion on matters of immigration  needs to be translated into adequate policies by the governments concerned.

I am not a judge of the various arguments pro or contra but here is what goes on in the public opinion of many a country:

Government’s actions at present (selected countries across the globe):

All governments mentioned below are, in principle, open to skilled workers entering the country legally. Illegal immigrants are in general deported.

However, the general picture overall nowadays is less migration.


Amb. Robert Vandemeulebroucke

Author: Amb. Robert Vandemeulebroucke

Ambassador (retired), Belgium

After graduating in History of Art and Archaeology and obtaining his PhD in the Hittite civilization at Ghent University, Ambassador Vandemeulebroucke entered the Belgian diplomatic service, during which time he was Ambassador to such countries as Nigeria, Benin and Togo and more recently Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.

He was also Minister plenipotentiary and head of the BIT (Bilateral Investment Treaties) Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brussels and has held many positions of responsibility in the field of Trade and Economic Affairs. Ambassador Vandemeulebroucke is a specialist in the fields of government liaison, international relations and analysis, negotiations, diplomatic exchanges and protocol and, as such, is actively involved in a number of professional organisations, such as VIRA (Vereniging voor internationale relaties or Association for International Relations) – Anders, which conducts analyses of geopolitical events.