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Leaving, staying, returning... Humanity has been confronted with this dilemma since its early stages. Today, nearly a billion people are “migrants”. Migratory practices are diverse: rural exodus, rural to rural migration, urban to urban migration; internal or international migration; but also circular, alternating, temporary or permanent mobility. In the Mediterranean region – a space in which people have always travelled, exchanged and shared –, food, trade and migratory routes have always overlapped, thus providing people with new life opportunities, and territories with the socio-economic dynamics that are crucial for their development.
If migration is part of the history of humanity (and its future), it is today at the heart of debates and a top priority of the political agenda, especially due to the increase in the number of migrants ready to cross borders at the risk of their lives. Since the 2000s, more than 50,000 people died in the Mediterranean Sea. The magnitude of this tragedy focuses attention on South-North migration, which is nonetheless, not the most significant. Nine refugees out of ten are hosted by developing countries and many are hosted in rural regions (in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 80% of refugees live in these areas). Let us not forget that inequalities are growing in countries and between countries. This trend will continue to fuel migration flows and feed hopes for better lives and more attractive life projects elsewhere.
Rural migration remains an important component of movements across the Mediterranean region, with consequences for areas of departure and arrival that need to be better comprehended and considered in agricultural and rural development programmes and policies…

Thomas Mélonio
Executive Director Innovation, Research And Knowledge, AFD
Plácido Plaza
Secretary General Of The CIHEAM
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