World Migration Report 2022


Since 2000, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Geneva, has been releasing the World Migration Report every two years. This report, released on December 1, 2021, is the eleventh publication in the series. It presents critical data on the developments in human migration – its “scale, direction, demography and frequency” – especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As of 2020, the global number of international migrants was estimated to be almost 281 million, of which nearly two-thirds were ‘labour migrants’ (defined as those who migrate from one State to another for the purpose of employment). The report states that the scale of international migration has increased since 2019, although at a reduced rate due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The report also notes a drastic increase in internal displacement due to natural disasters, conflict, and violence worldwide in the past two years.

In addition to focusing on the ways in which the Covid-19 pandemic has altered migration and mobility around the world, this report engages with topics like peace and migration, disinformation, human trafficking along migration routes and the impact of climate change on migration.

This 540-page report is divided into 12 chapters: Report overview: Technological, geopolitical and environmental transformations shaping our migration and mobility futures (Chapter 1); Migration and migrants: A global overview (Chapter 2); Migration and migrants: Regional dimensions and developments (Chapter 3); Migration research and analysis: Recent United Nations contributions (Chapter 4); The Great Disrupter: COVID-19’s impact on migration, mobility and migrants globally (Chapter 5); Peace and security as drivers of stability, development and safe migration (Chapter 6); International Migration as a stepladder of opportunity: What do the global data actually show (Chapter 7); Disinformation about migration: An age-old issue with new tech dimensions (Chapter 8); Migration and the slow onset impacts of climate change: Taking stock and taking action (Chapter 9); Human trafficking in migration pathways: Trends, challenges and new forms of cooperation (Chapter 10); Artificial Intelligence, migration and mobility: Implications for policy and practice (Chapter 11) and Reflections on migrants’ contributions in an era of increasing disruption and disinformation (Chapter 12).


  1. The report states that, in 2020, there were 135 million international female migrants and 146 million international male migrants. Around 78 per cent of all international migrants were of ‘working age’ (between 15 and 64 years old). Children accounted for 14.6 per cent of the world’s total international migrants.

  2. By mid-2020, restrictions put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 had stranded as high as three million people outside of their home countries. Most of this population were in the Middle East and North Africa (around 1.3 million people), followed by Asia and the Pacific (around 977,000 people).

  3. In 2020, 30.7 million new internal displacements took place due to natural disasters in 145 countries and territories. As per data for the year 2020 from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), Geneva, extreme temperatures displaced some 46,000 people anew and droughts caused new displacements of 32,000 people. Between 2008 and 2020, 2.4 million new displacements were caused by droughts and over 1.1 million displacements were due to extreme temperatures.

  4. The largest new internal displacements in Asia were due to natural disasters. In 2020, China experienced the highest number of new displacements due to disaster (about five million people). Philippines also reported a notably high number of people displaced – more than four million. India also reported nearly four million new displacements due to disasters such as floods, landslides and intense cyclones.

  5. At the end of 2020, most of the countries with the largest number of internally displaced persons due to conflict and violence were either in the Middle East or sub-Saharan Africa. The Syrian Arab Republic topped this list with 6.6 million internally displaced persons, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (5.3 million) and Colombia (4.9 million).

  6. The report states that – in 2020 – there were 26.4 million ‘refugees’ (defined as “a person who qualifies for the protection of the United Nations provided by the High Commissioner for Refugees,” as per IOM’s Glossary on Migration) and 4.1 million ‘asylum seekers’ (defined as “an individual who is seeking international protection” as per IOM’s Glossary on Migration). People belonging to the Rohingya community comprised the largest displaced stateless population in the world, the report adds.

  7. International migrant populations examined in terms of United Nations regions reveal that Europe is the largest destination for international migrants – 87 million (30.9 per cent of the international migrant population).

  8. In terms of geography, the Arab States region is one of the top destinations for migrant workers; they make up 41.4 per cent of the total working population in this region.

  9. In 2020, India had the largest figure of emigrant population globally (almost 18 million people), followed by Mexico (11 million).

  10. They report states three primary policy suggestions to tackle the issue of human trafficking on migratory routes: strengthening the understanding of human trafficking, differentiating it from other crimes such as migrant smuggling; adapting tailor-made protective measures for migrant victims of human trafficking; a cross-border and multi-stakeholder collaboration.

    Focus and Factoids by Gautami Kulkarni.

    PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


International Organization for Migration, Geneva


International Organization for Migration, Geneva


01 Dec, 2021