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World Migration Report Finds Migrants More Benefit Than Burden

The 2005 World Migration Report says too many myths and misperceptions exist about the millions of people who migrate to other countries. The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration says common perceptions that migrants cause job losses, lower wages and increase welfare costs are exaggerated, and contrary to the evidence.

The report says the belief that migration is spiraling out of control is contradicted by the facts. It says migrants represent less than three percent of the global population.

The editor-in-chief of the report, Irena Omalaniuk, says migration is growing, but it is not growing at a huge pace.

"[Roughly,] 175 million persons in the year 2000 were migrants and we think that by now it is closer to 190 million, if we extrapolate on the statistics around 2000. It is not a large and dramatic growth,” she noted.

The report finds nearly half of all migrants are female. It says global migration has decreased practically everywhere.

Although the number of Asian migrants has increased, it says their share of the global number of migrants has decreased from nearly 35 percent in 1970 to 25 percent in 2000. In addition, the report says more and more Asians are finding job opportunities within Asia itself.

It notes the number of international migrants have decreased in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Oceania. The report says only North America and the former Soviet Union have seen a sharp increase in migration.

According to the report, the top three migrant-receiving countries are the United States, Russia, and Germany. The top three sending countries are China, India, and the Philippines.

Ms. Omalaniuk says that, for several reasons, Africans will continue to seek to migrate to other regions.

"… high population growth, high HIV/AIDS incidence, deteriorating education and health systems and armed conflict, civil wars and large displaced person populations. The African Union has placed the diaspora at the center of its vision and strategic plan for the years 2004 and 2007. There is a lot of emphasis for the African Union, there is a lot of importance being placed on how African emigrants in other countries can be of use for the development of their country," she explained.

Ms. Omalaniuk says governments increasingly are looking at migrants as a force for development because they send home huge amounts of money.

The report notes in 2003, remittances through official channels totaled $93 billion dollars. And, that grew to more than $100 billion last year. It says this exceeds the amount of money many countries receive in official development aid.