By Robin Gomes
The number of international migrants in 2019 is now estimated at 270 million and the top destination remains the United States, at nearly 51 million, followed by Germany (13 million) and Saudi Arabia (13 million) the United Nations migration agency said on Wednesday.
In its latest global report, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) notes that the overall figure represents just a tiny fraction of the world’s population, although it is a 0.1 per cent increase on the level indicated in its last report, published two years ago.
“This figure remains a very small percentage of the world’s population (at 3.5 per cent), meaning that the vast majority of people globally (96.5 per cent) are estimated to be residing in the country in which they were born,” IOM’s Global Migration Report 2020 said.
According to the UN agency, more than half of all international migrants (141 million) live in Europe and North America.
An estimated 52 per cent are male, and nearly two-thirds of all migrants are looking for work; that’s around 164 million people.
Mostly from Asia
More than 40% of all international migrants were born in Asia (112 million).
India continues to be the largest country of origin of international migrants, with 17.5 million living abroad, followed by Mexico (11.8 million) and China (10.7 million).
The IOM report also noted that international remittances by migrants increased to $689 billion in 2018, with the top beneficiaries being India ($78.6 billion), China ($67.4 billion), Mexico ($35.7 billion) and the Philippines ($34 billion).
The United States remained the top source of remittance, at $68 billion, followed by the United Arab Emirates ($44.4 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($36.1 billion).
Migration within the region of birth
Although most migrants travelled to the US, the report confirmed other important migration corridors from poorer countries to richer nations such as those to France, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
In Africa, Asia and Europe, most international migrants stay within their regions of birth, but the majority of migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean and North America do not.
The three top countries with the largest number of migrants are Egypt, Morocco and South Sudan, while South Africa is the largest number of immigrants.
Data on the Middle East shows that Gulf countries have some of the largest numbers of temporary labour migrants in the world, including the United Arab Emirates, where they make up almost 90 per cent of the population.
Highlighting how ongoing conflicts and violence in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen have led to massive internal displacement in the last two years, IOM’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said that a total of 41.3 million people were forced to flee their homes at the end of 2018 – a record since monitoring began in 1998.
After nearly nine years of conflict, Syria has the highest internally displaced population, at 6.1 million, followed by Colombia (5.8 million) and the DRC (3.1 million).
With over 6 million refugees, Syria is also the top source of refugees, followed by Afghanistan at around 2.5 million - out of a total of nearly 26 million.
Among the key drivers of migration within the African continent was climate change. (Source: UN News, IOM)