News / USA

UN Meeting Looks to Turn Migration From Burden to Boon

Migrant construction workers watch an open air movie near their dormitories after a shift at a residential construction site in Shanghai, July 15, 2013.
Migrant construction workers watch an open air movie near their dormitories after a shift at a residential construction site in Shanghai, July 15, 2013.
VOA News
New United Nations figures say more people than ever are living in countries other than the one in which they were born. That means more people than ever are spending money to leave home, as well as sending money back home. This week in New York, the U.N. General Assembly is hosting a special meeting to discuss how to capitalize on international migration.
 
For a long time, migrants were associated with phrases like “brain drain” and “asylum seeker” and “job stealer.” Bela Hovy, the U.N. chief of migration, said these labels may apply in some cases, but there’s another story to tell.
 
“They invest into businesses, they generate trade. When they go home, their experiences and skills can be applied in the country of origin. So we see in many, many ways, these diaspora groups contribute not just through remittances, but also with ideas and all kinds of things that are part of their migration experience when they return,” said Hovy.

Hovy will be telling this story in New York on Thursday and Friday at the General Assembly High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development. He’s meeting with international agencies and civil society groups in an effort to figure out how to turn what was once considered a development burden into a development boon.

“What we really are looking for is that countries identify good practices and share information,” he said.

It's information about how to lower the costs of migration, capitalize on remittances, and protect human rights along the way.
 
US gets involved

This week’s meeting, the second of its kind, is significant because the United States is formally taking part for the first time. International migration has become too big to ignore.
 
This year, the U.N. has counted 232 million people living abroad. That’s 3.2 percent of the world’s population. Remittances from migrants sending money home reached $401 billion last year, according to the Migration Policy Institute. And that’s just the money that can be tracked.
 
Demographic trends indicate that Asia increasingly is becoming a source of remittances, as well as a recipient.
 
Asians represent the largest diaspora group, and the Asian region has experienced the largest increase of international migrants since 2000.
 
Hovy says global development is no longer just about the United States or Europe. “In Asia, you see countries such as South Korea, we see Thailand, we see Malaysia, some of these countries that did not attract immigrants or migrant labor a few decades ago are really attracting quite a bit.”

Oil fields are major lure

The oil fields of western Asia are another draw, luring an estimated 13.5 million South Asians this year.
 
To make the best of the movement, Hovy says exploitive labor recruiters need to be kept in check, and remittance costs lowered.
 
Migrants can lose as much as 15 percent or more of their earnings to transfer fees. Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute, said there are creative solutions to this problem.
 
“In some parts of world, some parts of Africa, they’ve reduced the costs of remittances down to next to nothing. And they basically transfer funds through mobile devices, like your telephones,” said Papademetriou.

Lowering fees

Once fees are lowered, more people are likely to spend money. And then, he said, the possibilities are endless. “The second innovation is to really start thinking about offering people who receive remittances a whole host of financial services.”

Bank accounts, loans, education accounts, health care.
 
"Companies that do the remitting, you know transfer funds, realize that if they manage to create a new client base at the other end, of people who will open bank accounts, begin to borrow funds, etcetera, etcetera, that is a much better, smarter way of making money than simply charging too much for the actual transaction,” said Papademetriou.

Hovy and Papademetriou warn that developed countries should not think of remittances as an alternative to international aid. People put their lives and families at risk to earn that money. But they say, once the world starts thinking of remittances as a linchpin to global development, migrants might start gaining the respect they deserve.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid