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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid