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IOM: Number Of International Migrants Could Double Over 40 Years

  • Lisa Schlein

The International Organization for Migration says the number of international migrants is growing and governments must learn to cope with the influx. The report says money migrants send home to their families remains vital to the world economy, amounting to roughly three times the amount of foreign aid to developing countries.

The report says migration is at an all-time high, despite the global economic crisis. It says the number of migrants has remained stable. Although migrants are particularly affected by unemployment, conditions at home are worse, the report says.

The report says many irregular migrants who have lost their jobs move into the so-called grey economy, where they become vulnerable to exploitation.

Co-editor of the Report Frank Laczko says migration remains an important phenomenon for the world economy because remittances remain resilient. "We have only seen a relatively small dip in the level of remittances. In 2009, the level of global remittances fell by approximately six percent. But, still the figure was in the region of $316 billion being remitted to developing countries, which is three times the level of foreign aid. So, migration, even though it accounts for only three percent of the world's population, has a tremendous impact on the global economy, and particularly developing countries," he said.

As migration flows increase, the report predicts today's countries of origin will become countries of destination. It says the migrants of tomorrow will be more diverse and will include many more women.

Authors of the report say it will be more difficult in the future to make distinctions between economic and political migrants, between high and low-skilled migrants and between legal and irregular migrants.

The report says the number of migrants could almost double by 2050 from the present 214 million to 405 million.

Co-editor of the report, Khalid Koser, says demographic changes, increased conflict, insecurity, poverty and climate change all will spur migration.

But, he notes few countries, even the wealthiest and most powerful, are prepared for these changes.

"Recent headlines you have seen in Australia, in the UK, in the USA - these are among the most industrialized, the most advanced countries in the world - cannot cope with migration today. Australia is struggling with boat arrivals. The UK has an ongoing debate, now being concluded about skilled entrants. The U.S. continues to face the challenge of many millions of irregular Mexican migrants in the country," he said. "If these rich countries cannot deal with migration today, what hope do they have of dealing with the massive changes that are coming in the relatively near future?"

If the wealthy countries do not find ways to cope, Koser says, they are likely to miss the opportunities offered by migration.

The report says greater investment and policy planning are needed. It recommends nations generate better data on irregular migration and labor markets. It says they must work to combat migrant smuggling and human trafficking, and improve the ability of transit countries to assist irregular migrants.

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