‘Migration’ is generally defined as the process of moving. Moving anything. Geese. Wildebeests. Giraffes. Data. People. Migration can be voluntary, driven by the seasons, or forced. It can be managed, but rarely prevented. In some cases migration is temporary, but in others, it is permanent.

Humans have been migrating for most of our history. Two thousand years ago, we moved in large numbers across the Bering Straight from Asia into North America; two years ago the Rohingya flowed through the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh.

Within the last decade, though, migration has attracted more and more attention. Trump is building a wall. The EU is being overrun. Even Canada, traditionally a multicultural mosaic, is seeing a surge in anti-immigrant sentiment. Attention is given to migrants despite the fact that they still represent a tiny minority – only 3.3% of the world’s population consists of migrants.

People are migrating for a range of reasons. The dramatic reasons make the news: Syrians fleeing from conflict and aerial bombings, Rohingya fleeing from oppression. But refugees make up only 10% of the global migration flow; migrants also include the Polish plumber who moves to France, or the British investment banker who resides in New York. The degree to which these reasons are changing, and the ways in which current policies and programs will affect migration is currently unclear.

We at Meraki Labs want to use this blog to ask a few questions to you – and to ourselves:

  • Is modern day migration really so different from previous migration flows? Why? What makes migration today different from previous migration?
  • Where do migrants come from and where are they going? Why are they moving? What are they looking for at home? In destination countries?
  • How different are the experiences of migrants coming from the ‘Third World’ (conflict affected or poverty affected countries) when compared to migrants coming from the ‘First World’?
  • What rules, regulations and processes govern migration along formal migration routes? Along irregular migration routes? Why do migrants choose irregular routes? How do irregular routes work?
  • How effective are programs that try to manage migration? What programs work and what programs do not? Are there programs that succeed in keeping migrants safe? What do these programs look like?

Meraki Labs has experience primarily with forced migration and displacement – with refugees, with asylum seekers, with people who experience issues along migration routes. But we would like this blog to be a locus for discussion between many actors – first and foremost, migrants and displaced people themselves. We would like this blog to generate discussion between people working on different aspects of migration, ranging from integration of refugees to support for displaced people to labour migration. Most importantly, we would like these discussions to be informed by migrants and displaced people themselves.