Migrants' economic contributions 'not recognized'
7 June 2006, NEW YORK - At a time when some Western governments were tightening migration policies, the UN said Tuesday in a major study that many countries have ignored both the human rights of migrants and their economic contributions.
7 June 2006
NEW YORK - At a time when some Western governments were tightening migration policies, the UN said Tuesday in a major study that many countries have ignored both the human rights of migrants and their economic contributions.
In an age of globalization, with more people on the move with the advances of communications and transportations, migration policies at the national and international levels have not reflected the realities of migration, the study said.
There were 191 million international migrants in 2005, up from 155 million in 1990. Half of the 191 million migrants are women, whose particularly needs have not been met.
Europe is host to the largest number of migrants, 34 per cent of the global total, while North America has 23 per cent and Asia 28 per cent.
"Labour migration, like the global mobility of human capital that it represents, has nonetheless become crucial for the global economy and is both a product and a producer of growing interdependence," the study said.
It called on governments to develop "forward-looking policies that take realistic account of their long-term structural demand for both low- and high-skilled workers."
In developed economies, the structural needs would be more critical because of expanding service sectors and ageing populations, the study said, referring to the growing ranks of retirees depending on assistance while birth rates have dropped.
Of the total 191 million international migrants, 112 million are residing in high-income countries, which include 22 developing countries such as Bahrain, Brunei, Kuwait, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
About 20 countries in the world are host to 75 per cent of the total migrants. Migrants in the US rose from 23.3 million in 1990 to more than 38 million in 2005, in Germany from 5.9 million to 10.1 million, France from 5.9 million to 6.5 million, Canada from 4.3 million to 6.1 million, Australia from 4 million to 4.1 million and Russia from 11.5 million to 12.1 million.
Migrants are big contributors to development in their countries of origin, and as their ranks have grown, their remittances also increased, the study said. The authors found that migrants sent home 232 billion dollars in 2005, up from 102 billion dollars in 1995.
Senior UN officials who briefed on the new study said part of the remittances paid for healthcare, social programmes or went into savings, whereas in the past the money was spend on consumption for migrants' families at home.
"Throughout human history, migration has been a courageous expression of the individual's will to overcome adversity and live a better life," the study said. "Today, globalization, together with advances in communication and transport, has greatly increased the number of people who have both the desire and the capacity to move."
It said migration is no longer a zero-sum game, instead benefiting both host countries and the countries of origin.
The study was sent to the UN General Assembly by Secretary General Kofi Annan, who urged the body to put it on the agenda for discussion in September, when it holds its annual session. He asked the 191- nation assembly to become a standing forum, which governments could use to explore and compare migrant policies.
The study said countries that once were associated exclusively with emigration - including Ireland, South Korea and Spain - have become thriving economies and currently attract large numbers of migrants.
The international migration phenomenon is changing because emigrants are no longer separated from families and communities they leave behind. While many move to developed nations, an equal number move from one developing country to another.
Highly skilled migrants constituted half of migrants aged 25 or over who moved to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries during the 1990s, the study said.
Subject: German news