African Migrants going to latin America

As Europe cracks down on illegal migration, more and more Africans are heading to Latin America. Brazil and Argentina are the most popular destinations. Both have seen a spike in asylum seekers from Africa, and while these governments may be more open to immigration, the process of integrating these newcomers is not always smooth. Below some comments and opinios of some experts and migrants themselves.

Professor CLARENCE LUSANE, American University School of International Service

According to professor Lusane, Brazil is attractive for a number of reasons. One is that it has a large black population. But it's also attractive because it actually has extremely progressive refugee policies and those are known increasingly around the world among refugees. And that attraction and the word of mouth that has spread around the receptivity of people coming to Brazil has meant that there's been a large increase of people of African descent, both from the continent of Africa but also from the Caribbean.

About the policies and what happens to migrants or refugees if they're arriving without documentation?

This goes back to 2004. There was an agreement signed called the Mexico Plan of Action to strengthen international protection of refugees. And it was signed by 20 countries, including Brazil, Argentina, the U.S., Canada - 16 other countries.
And what it did was to create a broad framework under which rights were designated that were to be available for people who were coming as refugees or people who were seeking asylum. And this was really important because it meant, unlike in Europe, for example, there are rights that refugees have. For example, the right to freedom of movement. In many European countries, you're very restricted to not only certain cities but certain parts of certain cities, where in Brazil, once you're accepted as a refugee; you can pretty much go anywhere. You also have a right to work. You also have rights in terms of access to education, access to health care. Now all of this is listed as rights and all of this is, in a broad context, very progressive framework. The reality of how these things are actually carried out, though, can be very, very different.

Anil Mundra, reported on African immigration to Argentina

Most of them didn't have any idea what they were getting into. Most of the people coming to Argentina these days are Senegalese and they would be what the UN would economic migrants, not - they wouldn't be considered refugees and they're coming to make money, but it seems like it was a worth of mouth phenomenon again, and someone said, you know, Argentina is a good place to go and it just kind of ballooned from there.

A Congolese man who felt discriminated against.He had a finance degree, he spoke four languages, actually became a citizen in Argentina, but he wasn't really kind of living the Argentina dream as it might be.

There's very few Congolese there now, and that's partly I think - he tells me that's partly because he's told everybody not to come because it's not a good place for people like him. He is very outspoken about, the discrimination in Argentine society and in the government.
Now it's a mixed thing. Everyone, particularly, you know, people that are street vendors and so they're interacting with citizens and police on the street everyday - everyone has their stories of being called racial slurs -some of them being physically assaulted, especially by police - but they usually go on to qualify that and say well, that's the exception and basically we're earning more money here than we could back at home and we're basically happy.

George Kingsley, Sierra Leone

fled his war-torn homeland of Sierra Leone by stowing away on a cargo ship with no idea where his journey would lead him. Three weeks later, he arrived broke, hungry, and dehydrated in Argentina.
``The only thing I knew about the country was that Diego Maradona was the best footballer in the world,'' he said, taking a break from selling cheap, gold-plated jewelry out of a briefcase in a working-class district of Buenos Aires.

Abdou Secka, Gambia

30 year old, a refugee from the Gambia, works washing cars in the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
During his first year he has learned Spanish and met an Argentine girlfriend, but he said he often faces discrimination.
``Argentina is a free country,'' Secka said. But, ``I don't like how people stare at me in the street or point at me and say: `Look there goes a black man.' ''
Other immigrants said they had also been discriminated against because of their skin color. But they said it was minor compared to the xenophobia African migrants face in Europe.

Emmanuel Danso, Liberia

18 year old, came to Argentina in July, stowing aboard a cargo ship after his parents were killed during his country's civil war. Now he wants to study to become a laboratory technician.
``Back home I'm homeless. I'm an orphan,'' Danso said as he walked into a Spanish lesson at a Catholic charity. ``But in this country there's great opportunity for me. I'd like to stay here because I feel good.''