Umayya Abu-Hanna europeanvoices Immigrants and apples GrowinG up on the shores of the Mediterranean, I thought that the queen of the seasons was spring, with its fields of white almond flower petals. In the north where I live now, autumn is king, with its colourful reds and oranges that form the turning of the leaves. now in bed under my down quilt on a fall evening, I look at two things in my lap: an apple pie recipe and a UN report that needs to be read. For four nights I have chosen apples (more about that later). But tonight something called a "deadline" hits me, so I start reading a report on migration. The media often portrays immigrants as either villains (stealing our jobs and women) or victims (refugees and vulnerable people). There's a general belief that even the "good" immigrants are a financial and social burden on society. Now the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has authored an international report about global human mobility and development. The results of the study are surprising. Among other things the report states that "migrants boost economic output, at little or no cost to locals." It's important to get our facts straight about migration. called developing countries, leading much better lives than the locals? Another myth is that most immigrants move from developing countries to the West. Yet, for example, 1.3 million Finns live outside of Finland. We learn that less than one third of migrants move from developing countries to developed countries. Most migrants (200 million) move from one developing country to another. i have lived, loved, worked, paid taxes and invested in Western society for all of my adult life. Yet because of the colour of my skin, I will always be considered an immigrant from a developing country, not an equal. But thanks to the 2009 UNDP report, I've learned a few eye-opening facts about migration. But, now I need to return to the apple pie recipe by the way, apples are originally immigrants from Kazakstan because my secondgeneration immigrant daughter is demanding "Cake mama, cake!" I'm afraid I have to obey. You know how these immigrants can be when they don't get their way. Migration has a very big impact on all societies. Therefore, it's essential that we get our facts straight and not leave the discussion open to emotional impressions. The report also finds that fears about migrants taking jobs, lowering the wages of local people, or costing taxpayers money, are exaggerated. It also corrects a few myths such as the notion that Europe is full of Africans. According to the UNDP report: "less than one per cent of Africans have moved to Europe." I wonder how many Africans were brought to Europe as slaves. And how many Europeans live in soUmayya Abu-Hanna is a writer, journalist, and cultural diversity advisor for the Finnish National Gallery's research department. A Palestinian born in Israel, she lives in Helsinki with her daughter. NOVEMBER 2009 BLUE WINGS 51
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