n Conflict Trends - The African diaspora as agents of peace on the continent

Volume 2008, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


A diaspora is a community of people living outside their country of origin. Since the 1980s, the dynamics of rapid globalisation and the patterns of the labour migration process have considerably increased the diaspora population and transnational communities around the world. This wave of labour migration was largely a voluntary initiative, as people moved abroad in pursuit of economic advantage and a better life. This immigration tendency is fittingly described by the economist J.K. Galbraith as "the oldest action against poverty". However, since the 1990s, a different wave of migration has been in motion. In this wave, people have been forced to flee their home countries by protracted wars and violent conflicts. This is a forced migration rather than a voluntary movement of people, as the conditions at home make it impossible for them to remain there. The people in this pattern of migration are generally referred to as "conflict-generated diaspora". The total number of the African diaspora who live mainly in Europe and North America is estimated to be around 3.8 million people. Amounting to 2.9 % of the world's population, the contemporary diaspora - particularly those who are in the rich Western countries such as the Netherlands - have the capacity to mobilise substantial financial resources, extensive transnational networks, powerful international forces and political connections that span the globe. It is this enormous potential on a global scale that enables the diaspora to make a difference to the situations in the homelands in different respects.

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