BANGKOK, Thailand, Sep 08 (IPS) – In Asia and the Pacific, migration is on the rise again. In 2020, almost 109 million people lived in a country other than that of their birth. They made up 2.3 percent of the region’s population in 2020 and almost 38 percent of the population. international migrants of the world.
If managed properly, migration can benefit migrants, their families, and the countries from which they come and to which they go.
Growth in the stock of international migrants in Asia and the Pacific and by subregion, 1990-2020
Migration is largely the result of disparities
Development disparities are a key driver of international migration. Poverty, limited employment opportunities, recently exacerbated by rising food and energy prices, and the prospect of higher wages abroad are the main factors contributing to the decision to emigrate.
Migrants hold jobs at all skill levels: construction workers and domestic workers, nurses, accountants, IT specialists, teachers and many others. Women are particularly engaged in domestic and care work.
Migration occurs mainly within the region. People often prefer to migrate to geographically and culturally close countries. The region has distinct migration corridorssuch as from Central Asia to the Russian Federation, from the Pacific Islands to Australia or Southeast Asia.
Temporary labor migration from Asia and the Pacific to the Middle East is also significant, with Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines being the main countries of origin. Overall, Asia and the Pacific is a hub for international migration; many countries are simultaneously country of origin, destination and transit.
Millions of young people from the Asia-Pacific region are also migrating to study abroad. After graduating, many get work visas and jobs in their destination countries, such as Australia or New Zealand.
Migration without choice
Others have no choice but to emigrate. They flee their country because of wars and conflicts. In 2022, there were 31.6 million refugees from Asia and the Pacific under UNHCR’s mandate and 27.5 million of them lived in the region.
A total of 53 percent of refugees from Asia-Pacific countries are women and 43 percent are under the age of 18. Countries such as Bangladesh, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan and Turkey are among the largest refugee-hosting countries in the world for refugees from neighboring countries in conflict. An increasing number of people are migrating for environmental and climate change reasons as they see their livelihoods destroyed.
Migration has a high cost for migrants
Despite the progress made, migration has a high cost for migrants. Recruitment costs for private recruiters remain high. Some pay with their lives: since 2014, each year, around 4,000 deaths have been recorded around the world on the migratory routes.
Every year, thousands of men and women fall prey to traffickers and smugglers, often for security reasons. forced labor and sexual exploitation. Access to social services and protection, as well as rights, in destination countries often remains limited, particularly for workers classified as low-skilled, including domestic workers. Migrant women are at higher risk of being abused and have limited access to sexual and reproductive health services.
Migrants are agents of development
Migrants generally send money or goods to support their families in their country of origin, which is called remittances. In 2022, a total of $311 billion was sent to Asia and the Pacific in the form of remittances, intended to support better housing, better nutrition and better education for children. In destination countries, migrants work in jobs that often could not be done otherwise. Migrant workers are essential in many sectors of the economy, especially in aging societies.
Migration is an irreversible trend in the Asia-Pacific region. To reap the benefits, secure and low-cost regular migration channels are needed. There is also a need to address development disparities, conflict and environmental degradation to ensure that migration is an individual choice for individuals. Regional dialogue and cooperation on international migration is essential to this end.
The seventh Asia-Pacific Population Conference, organized by ESCAP and UNFPA, in Bangkok from 15 to 17 November 2023, will provide policy makers, civil society organizations and other stakeholders with the opportunity to discuss key population and development issues.
The outcomes of the meeting will provide regional input to the global review of the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) at the 57th session of the Commission on Population and Development, in 2024.
Vanessa Steinmayer is Population Affairs Officer, Division of Social Development, ESCAP and Simon Graham is a UNFPA Population and Development Fellow.
IPS UN Office
© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service