Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

Voices of young migrants represented in UN World Youth Report

Young Irish emigrants share stories alongside peers from around the world

Fri, Feb 14, 2014, 21:00


Of the world’s 232 million international migrants, 75 million people are under age 30, and the opportunities and challenges they face vary widely, according to the new United Nations World Youth Report published today.

The report features the voices and stories of young Irish emigrants, who were invited to make submissions to the UN last year.

About half of the young international migrants are women and girls, and 60 per cent of young international migrants live in developing countries. The report primarily focuses on the experiences of international migrants, but notes that many young people are internal migrants who move within their home countries.

The report outlines the global situation of young migrants by highlighting some of the concerns, challenges and successes experienced by young migrants as told in their voices taken from a series of online consultations and surveys organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA).

Voluntary migration for work, study or family reasons is more common than forced migration. The legal status of young migrants varies as they travel through transit and destination countries. Some travel as documented migrants, moving through legal channels or staying in other countries with the required paperwork. However, others are undocumented migrants who may lack the necessary legal authorization to enter, stay or work in a transit or destination country, or have overstayed the allowed time in their country of destination and are thus in an irregular situation.

The reasons young migrants moved varied widely in accounts noted in the report with some positive, such as for educational and job opportunities, and some negative, such as due to conflict, coercion or persecution.

The report examines the motivating factors behind young people’s migration decisions, the importance of information in preparing for and reducing the risks associated with migration, and the cost of migration and how it influences the choice of migration routes.

Better information needed

According to the report, many young people are excited at the prospect of leaving home, but the period leading up to their departure presents many challenges. One of the challenges cited most often by participants in the report’s online consultations and survey was the difficulty youth faced in obtaining accurate information about their intended destination.

The report also gives a comprehensive account of the challenges faced by the young migrants in finding housing, securing employment, accessing health care services, and adapting to life in a new location.

The report suggests that youth engagement in migration as well as in policy and programming should improve the situation of young migrants. An online consultation participant suggested utilising technology to provide better information.

Access the interactive report at