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World Migration Report sets agenda for the future of human mobility

23 November 20180 comments

The geographic, demographic and geo-political variations of migration issues need to be better understood and considered, and; the many interconnections in the analysis and policymaking on migration and mobility need to be recognised.

These are the key findings of the World Migration Report 2018 (WMR), the UN Migration Agency IOM’s flagship publication launched in Geneva this month.

The report, the ninth in IOM’s World Migration Report series and the first since IOM became part of the UN, reveals current migration dynamics and emerging issues that have been shaping, and posing challenges to, human mobility.

And it sets an agenda for intra and transnational conversations about migration into the future.

IOM Director General, William Lacy Swing said the report highlighted “the importance of providing a balanced, analytically rigorous and evidence-based account of the current migration realities” at a time of information overload and widespread misconstrued ideas on migration.

He said increasing the understanding of human mobility was paramount given the volume of international migrants, which has reached approximately 258 million, or more than three per cent of the world’s population.

Among other key findings of the report were that the last two decades had an increase in efforts to improve global governance of migration though international dialogue culminating in the Global Compact on Migration.

It said the challenge now was to move from a consultation process to greater joint action that mitigates the level of “fragmentation in the migration system”.

“The global compacts on migration, and on refugees, provide the opportunity to move ahead in realising a more coherent approach to international migration,” the report said.

It noted that migrants and their communities are experiencing increasing connectivity in many ways, including: social contact; remittance flows; circular flow and integration.

“As access to international movement has increased, States have sought to maximise the benefits of migration, immigration and border management policies and practices, for example, have evolved rapidly to account for perception of risks associated with the movement of large numbers of people,” the report said.

It said that among the implications of this, was the need for investment in technologies which can be used by migrants to avoid danger in their migrant journeys.

The report also said there needed to be greater emphasis on migrants’ roles, decision-making and behaviour before and during migration to help understand how migration occurs.

It revealed the top countries migrants sought to move to were the US (20.9 per cent), UK (6.1 per cent), Saudi Arabia (5.8 per cent), Canada (5.7 per cent), France (5.3 per cent) and Germany (4.9 per cent).

Australia was ranked eight with three per cent of global migrants desiring to come here.

The report found evidence that media coverage of migration has been more negative than positive, particularly for irregular migration.

But it said changes and fragmentation in traditional media and the rise of social media provided opportunities for migrant-led media and journalism.

”Media provides important sources of information about the size and nature of migrant populations that affect what people think,” the report said.

“Differences between perceptions and reality are important in shaping public opinion,” it said.

The report said media could influence public opinion and also policy agendas.

“Media coverage can affect self-perception, self-portrayal and how migrants relate to host countries and consider home countries,” it said.

The report looked at the link between migration, violent extremism and social exclusion.

It found there was little data on the intersection between migration and extremist violence but that there was scarce evidence to support the assertion that terrorists are infiltrating irregular migration flows.

However, the report found there was wide acknowledgement that radicalisation and violent extremism among settled migrants and refugees was a symptom of social exclusion.

“Closer dialogue is required between policymakers responsible for migration and those charged with preventing violent extremism,” it said.

The report also studied the increasingly important role of cities in migrant flows.

“Cities have become significant determinants of global migration flows and their patterns, which has implications for governance that need to be better understood and considered,” it said.

“National policy regimes provide a background within which local activity takes place, but increasingly it is city institutions that recruit and retain migrants.

“Examples of cities exerting a degree of autonomy over migration affairs reflect the current lack of involvement of cities in national migration policy development and point to the need for local–national partnerships to be developed. Mutual exchanges of knowledge and experience among cities should be enhanced,” the report said.

See the full report here:


The numbers

A recently released companion report to the WMR was the Global Migration Indicators Report 2018 which found an estimated 258 million people currently live in a country other than that of their birth, a figure that is up from 173 million in 2000, and 102 million in 1980, the report says.

And the proportion of international migrants in the world population continues to rise and is now at 3.4 per cent – compared to 2.8 per cent in 2000 and 2.3 per cent in 1980, according to the 2018 Global Migration Indicators report.

Produced by the UN’s migration agency IOM, the report says that included in the 258 million figure are 125 million women, 36 million children, 150 million migrant workers and almost 5 million international students and 25 million refugees.

The 25 million refugees are included among some 68.5 million people forcibly displaced by persecution, conflict or human rights violations, the report says.

It says that globally 35-40 million people migrate every five years.

The latest available estimates for the number of labour migrants are based on data from 2013 which shows that two-thirds of all international migrants globally were migrant workers in that year.

Among an estimated 150.3 million migrant workers globally, 11.5 million were domestic workers and among all migrant workers, 66.6 million (or 44 per cent) were female, the report says.

Males make up 83.7 million or 55.7 per cent of the total of migrant workers.

One in eight migrant workers is between 15 and 24 years-old and almost half (48.5 per cent) of all migrant workers are located in two broad subregions: North America and Northern, Southern and Western Europe. Almost 12 per cent of all migrant workers are in Arab States.

Global estimates of the number of international students are based on 2016 figures which show around 4.8 million international students, up from 2 million in 2000.

More than half of these were enrolled in educational programs in six countries: The United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany and the Russian Federation.

The top countries for sending international students include China, India, Germany, South Korea, Nigeria, France, Saudi Arabia and several Central Asian countries, the report said.


Laurie Nowell

AMES Australia Senior Journalist