The Irish, the Greeks, and the Portuguese are moving to the Southern Hemisphere due to the crisis

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Niccolo and Donkey
Europeans migrate south as continent drifts deeper into crisis

Guardian UK

Helen Pidd

December 21, 2011

Gaelic sportsman Mick Hallows of the Roundtowers club in Clondalkin, Dublin who has emigrated to Australia because of a lack of work in Ireland. Photograph: Kim Haughton

Since its conception, the European Union has been a haven for those seeking refuge from war, persecution and poverty in other parts of the world. But as the EU faces what Angela Merkel has called its toughest hour since the second world war, the tables appear to be turning. 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 .

The Guardian has spoken to dozens of Europeans who have left, or are planning to leave. Their stories highlight surprising new migration routes – from Lisbon to Luanda, Dublin to Perth, Barcelona to Buenos Aires – as well as more traditional migration patterns.

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.

Gonçalo Pires, a graphic designer who has swapped Lisbon for Rio de Janeiro, said: "It's a pretty depressing environment there [in Portugal]." In Brazil, by contrast, "there are lots of opportunities to find work, to find clients and projects".

Joy Drosis, who left her Greek homeland for a life in Australia, expressed similar motives. "I had to do something. If I had stayed in Greece , we were all doomed," she said. "I'm lucky that I can speak the language: many others can't." The key moment in this southerly migration may have come last month, when the Portuguese prime minister, Pedro Passos Coelho, made a humbling visit to Angola , begging for inbound investment. Just 36 years after the end of Portuguese colonial rule in Angola, its president was ready to show mercy. "We're aware of the difficulties the Portuguese people have faced recently," said José Eduardo dos Santos. "Angola is open and available to help Portugal face this crisis."

But the Portuguese making this move will not have it easy: life expectancy in Angola is still just 39, compared with 79 in Portugal, and crime is rife.

In Ireland, where 14.5% of the population are jobless, emigration has climbed steadily since 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed and the bottom fell out of the Irish housing market. In the 12 months to April this year, 40,200 Irish passport-holders left, up from 27,700 the previous year, according to the central statistics office. Irish nationals were by far the largest constituent group among emigrants, at almost 53%.

The Guardian spoke to one Dublin under-19s football and hurling club that had lost eight out of 15 players in the past 18 months. Most of the nascent sports stars had headed to Australia. Experts believe the exodus will increase, given the £1.4bn tax rises and austerity measures just announced. The thinktank the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) forecast this month that 75,000 people would emigrate from Ireland in 2012 .

Given the state of its economy, it is no surprise that Greece is in the same boat. In 2010, 1.21 million people emigrated, according to the World Bank, equalling 10.8% of the population. The top destinations were Germany, Australia, Canada, Albania, Turkey, UK, Cyprus, Israel and Belgium. Skilled Greeks are particularly likely to leave – in 2010, 4,886 physicians emigrated, meaning that Greece lost 9.4% of its doctors in just one year. Greece, like most other EU countries is still an attractive destination for poor immigrants – 1.3 million people arrived in 2011. But with the biggest number coming 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.
Niccolo and Donkey

You would not believe how many educated young middle class Irish there are in Melbourne. Ireland's loss is our gain I suppose. Not sure what they'll do if/when China slows down and the Aussie economy stops booming so hard though. As it is though, they get off the plane, get a job and assimilate seamlessly. They even know the rules to the footy!

Team Zissou
It's almost like some immigrant groups provide more benefit and less costs than others. Uncanny.

I would have migrated to Australia a couple of years ago were it not for some family stuff. Good place for a pool technician.

Niccolo and Donkey
Indeed. Well educated groups who speak the language and know elements of the culture do better.

Hence all the Indians and Pakistanis here who have IT degrees and can talk at length of great Australian heroes like Ray Lindwall and Bobby Simpson.

But you didn't measn that did you?

You just meant niggers. Because really mate, when you strip back all the sophistry, all your political views are ultimately based on your dislike on niggers.
Team Zissou
It's a pretty big deal, because virtually the entire premise of the secular democratic State has become enabling a high time-preference population to live off the efforts of a lower time-preference population. That's why upper caste Indians, Pakis and Africans devote so much effort to getting away from lower caste Indians, Pakis and Africans.

This is where I just do not understand people like you. You dislike whites who disagree with your neo-liberalism intensely, to the point of urging their and your own replacement by non-whites. Ultimately, where do you think we end up in that instance? Indians and Pakistanis don't know how to run a country, which is why the Indians and Pakistanis on the right side tail leave their homelands. And once a formerly white country has a Hindu or Paki market-dominant majority, then the immigrants can just stay in their villages, because there's nowhere left to go at that point.
Porkchop Holocaust

A few days ago, the Portuguese PM told unemployed teacher poors to emigrate to other parts of the globe. Instead of being thankful for this extraordinarily rare instance of wisdom from our government, everyone predictably took the opportunity to chimp-out. Truly, this country is doomed.

My longterm plan is to be a teacher abroad and I'm taking the necessary steps to be able to do it in five years or so. Angola or Brazil wouldn't be bad options, although I have other destinations in mind, also to the South.