January 25 had little effect on Egyptians’ migration intentions, says report

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CAIRO: The January 25 Revolution had a limited impact in the migration intentions of Egyptian youth, who remain relatively optimistic about the future of their country, concluded a recent study by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Egypt.

According to the study that surveyed 750 Egyptian youth who want to migrate, only 15 percent of respondents agreed that the current situation makes them want to migrate, while 41 percent confirmed that the current events only influenced their decision in a minor way and 44 percent of respondents confirmed that they had already decided to migrate before the revolution.

After the January 25 events in Egypt, IOM in Egypt commissioned a survey to understand how Egyptian youth view the future of their country and to what extent the turmoil, reform and uncertainty may influence positively or negatively their intention to migrate.

However, the majority of respondents are optimistic about Egypt’s future after January 25. The current events had only a limited impact on young Egyptians’ migration decisions for the vast majority of respondents, with small but significant differences across regions and demographics. However, the majority of respondents who wished to migrate witnessed job losses and loss of income after January 25, stated the IOM report.

“Young Egyptian men and women are concerned about access to jobs, whether in Egypt or abroad. We found that two thirds of respondents who were working prior to January 25 either lost their job or faced a reduction in pay and working time. In addition to job losses in Egypt, estimates reveal that approximately 200,000 Egyptians returned from Libya and may now be looking for employment in Egypt,” said Pasquale Lupoli, IOM regional representative for the Middle East, in a press statement.

“The loss of remittances and the current closure of one of the primary destination countries for Egyptian migrants present a big challenge for Egypt as the country enters a critical transition period.”

When asked about their expectations for the political climate and security in the future, young Egyptians who were interested in migrating showed cautious optimism with 63 percent of them expecting the political situation and security to be slightly better in the future. On the other hand, those without migration intentions share the same expectations for the future with those who have migrations intentions; yet, they are slightly more optimistic.

The most important issues in Egypt today for youth are jobs and employment, corruption, security, salaries and constitution reforms.

Youth with the intention to migrate were divided when asked about the current state of the economy, with 50 percent of respondents feeling pessimistic or neutral about the economic situation, and the remaining 50 percent feeling somewhat or very confident.

Interestingly, when asked about their expectations for the future year, young Egyptians were overwhelmingly optimistic about the future of the national economy (79 percent), and their household income (80 percent).

Regarding employment conditions before the January 25 Revolution, 50 percent of respondents were working mainly in service sector and industry. After January 25, around 70 percent of those employed faced trouble regarding their work. Urban governorates reported the highest percentage of those who lost their jobs, 30 percent, while 24 percent were asked to take unpaid leaves.

The most important push factors for the young Egyptians who wish to migrate remain lack of employment opportunities and unsatisfactory living conditions. The most important pull factor is the possibility of gaining higher wages abroad then in Egypt.

The youth with migration intentions interviewed for the study predominantly want to move to countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, while 12 percent want to migrate to the United States and five percent to Italy.


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