Testimony of Alhasane, PhD student in social and political sciences, from Côte d’Ivoire

"February 22, 1998 was the most striking date of my life: the realisation of a prediction made by Hadj Mamadou to my aunt when I was 16 years old: 'Khadija: I see the future of your offspring beyond the Ocean, he will go on to live among the Toubabs. For that, you have to sacrifice a red rooster and 30 cola nuts'.

So it was, under the eye of an enchanted winter, that I landed at Brussels National Airport, and it was my first contact with that white mantle, a show of nature which left me stunned. After the usual formalities, the authorities invalidated my visa without the slightest explanation. I therefore had to take the next return flight for Abidjan. Right there, I felt the weight of the sky and all the mountains of Africa on my shoulders. At the last minute, I decided to apply for asylum. After a week of endless interrogations, I received a positive reply, which gave me the right to stay on Belgian national territory. I was entrusted to the Social Action Centre of Linkebeek.

In Belgium, Mrs. Anne Feliers, a social worker of an indescribable kindness, accompanied me during my asylum procedure and my social and occupational integration process, which led me to the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at the ULB. In this institution, I wasn’t disoriented at all, since so many diverse nationalities mingled and helped each other. After my Bachelor's degree in Political Science and several mishaps on the labour market -- a world in which the shadow of discrimination is omnipresent for migrant people --, I decided to create my own telecommunication company with nine employees. At the same time, I got involved in support and social and occupational integration with several associations.

These experiences made me realise that the migrants’ world is a real sociological laboratory, because, even when their situation is legal, the Way of the Cross of some categories of migrants continues in the field of social and occupational integration.

If the journey of migrants is multiple and diverse, there are nevertheless many points of convergence, in particular the feeling of seeing oneself turned into a pancake at the back and being burnt at the front: on the one hand, the perpetual fear of seeing oneself locked one day into a detention centre while waiting to be expelled; on the other hand, the constantly increasing pressure from loved ones back home who invite us to pay the daily expenses of the family. Faced with this situation, the risk is to find refuge in the arms of depression, alcoholism, or to fall prey to criminal networks that will not hesitate to use you in various forms of trafficking: drugs, counterfeiting, procuring...

More than ever, the immigration question thus remains a strategic issue, which requires a multilateral collaboration both at the level of the home countries and of the host countries. At this level, States undoubtedly have to improve their cooperation with associations, foundations, and people working daily with migrants."