A new stream of migrants is leaving the continent. It threatens to become a torrent if the debt crisis continues to worsen.
Tens of thousands of Portuguese, Greek and Irish people have left their homelands this year, many heading for the southern hemisphere. Anecdotal evidence points to the same happening in Spain and Italy.
This year, 2,500 Greek citizens have moved to Australia and another 40,000 have “expressed interest” in moving south. Ireland’s central statistics office has projected that 50,000 people will have left the republic by the end of the year, many for Australia and the US.
Portugal’s foreign ministry reports that at least 10,000 people have left for oil-rich Angola. On 31 October, there were 97,616 Portuguese people registered in the consulates in Luanda and Benguela, almost double the number in 2005.
The Portuguese are also heading to other former colonies, such as Mozambique and Brazil. According to Brazilian government figures, the number of foreigners legally living in Brazil rose to 1.47 million in June, up more than 50% from 961,877 last December. Not all are Europeans, but the number of Portuguese alone has jumped from 276,000 in 2010 to nearly 330,000.
For departing Greeks the top destinations over the years, according to the World Bank, have been Germany, Australia, Canada, Albania, Turkey, UK, Cyprus, Israel and Belgium. Skilled Greeks are particularly likely to leave: as an example of what can happen, 4,886 physicians emigrated in the year 2000 (the last year for which the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances Factbook cites data for departing doctors), meaning the country lost 9.4% of its doctors in that single year. The World Bank gives the number of immigrants living in Greece as about 1.13 million in 2010, around 10% of the population. Most have come, over the years, from poorer countries such as Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Georgia, it is likely that the majority of new arrivals lack the skills to replace the emigrants.