Atlas of Migration: New facts and figures about people on the move
Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the Berlin-based institute engaged in political education, published the Atlas of Migration in November 2022. This report, the second in the series, aims to change global perceptions around migration and ‘promote openness and pragmatism’.
The definition of a migrant followed by the report is someone whose country of birth is different from their country of residence. Across its various sections, the report discusses the causes and effects of migrations through examples and graphs, and gives policy recommendations. It notes that the absolute number of international migrants has increased from 153 million in 1990 to 281 million in 2020.
It sheds light on the recent upsurge in migration due to climate change. In light of recent geo-political events, it also discusses the effects of the Russia-Ukraine war on migration.
The 64-page report, divided into 27 short sections, also talks about issues of deportation, undocumented migration, the power of the ‘right passport’, right-wing extremism and its impact on migration, remittances, regional migration, etc.
Migration can be voluntary or involuntary. War, persecution and violence often push people towards involuntary migration, forcing them to seek refuge away from their birth countries. According to the report, in 2022, one in every seven people who had to leave their home was a refugee or asylum seeker.
However, the number of people migrating within their countries was higher – a United Nations estimate from 2009 reported 749 million internal migrants.
Data from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Geneva, recorded around 53 million internal migrants who had moved due to war and violence. It also reported as many as 23.7 million people migrating within their countries due to natural disasters like earthquakes, floods and storms.
According to data from 2020, two-thirds of the world’s international migrants resided in 20 countries, with the United States of America (51 million) and Germany (16 million) having the highest absolute numbers. However, considering the percentage of migrants within a host country’s total population revealed countries in the Persian Gulf to be major destinations. For example, immigrants made up 88.1 per cent of the population in the United Arab Emirates as compared to just 18.8 per cent in Germany and 15.3 per cent in the United States.
India recorded the largest diaspora with 18 million people living in other countries. It was followed by Mexico and the Russian Federation (11 million each), China (10 million), and Syria (eight million).
Climate change is becoming the front-running cause behind migration. In 2020, 30.7 million people were forced to move from their homes due to climate events. Most climate refugees, the report states, are in Asia and one-third of all migrants across the world are from here.
World Bank estimates show as many as 216 million people being forced to migrate within their countries due to climate change by 2050. This atlas further notes that the 2018 United Nations Global Compact on Refugees [aimed to ‘galvanize action for an improved response to refugee situations’] failed to recognise climate change as a cause of forced migration.
The report adds that the countries with the highest carbon emissions also have the strictest border regulations. It notes that seven of the biggest greenhouse gas emitting countries, on average, spend 2.3 times more on border and immigration control compared to climate-change mitigation. These include the United States of America, Germany and France.
Border free travel is often taken for granted in the European Union whose countries have some of the strongest passports. For example, in 2022, people with German passports only needed to apply for visa to enter 37 out of 199 countries. In contrast, citizens of Afghanistan were only eligible to enter 27 countries without a visa. Additionally, despite Taliban taking power in 2021, no country eased visa requirements for refugees from Afghanistan.
According to the World Bank, remittances have increased threefold since 2000. By the end of 2021, remittances to low- and middle-income nations were recorded around 605 billion dollars. The report notes that remittances account for 0.8 per cent of the global economic output, a considerable figure – the contribution of agriculture to the global economic output is around four per cent.
Focus and Factoids by Arz Taneja.
Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Berlin
Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Berlin