GENEVA: The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the key role that migrant workers play in the global economy, as well as the “terrible risks” that they are forced to take, to find work.
According to the new International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Global Migration Indicators (GMI) 2021 report, over the past decade migrants in the worldwide labour force have tripled.
IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) also flagged that remittances sent home to lower and middle-income countries (LMICs) have outpaced foreign aid.
The analysis featured on the Global Migration Data Portal, provides snapshots of the latest statistics and trends, including the impacts of Covid-19 on mobility.
For example, remittances made up more than 25 per cent of total GDP last year in El Salvador, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Tonga.
“The availability of timely and reliable data can help us maximize the potential of migration for development”, said Ugochi Daniels, IOM Deputy Director General for Operations.
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As exemplified by the many roles of migrants considered ‘essential’ during the Covid-19 pandemic, the report highlights an increase in demand for their labour.
Foreign doctors account for 33 per cent of the United Kingdom’s physicians, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and there is an overall reliance on foreign healthcare workers in Europe and the United States.
Remittances by overseas migrant workers to their home countries are increasingly critical for families and the wider economy.
There are nearly 170 million foreign workers globally, according to the latest IMO estimates – more than triple the 53 million registered in 2010. And foreign-born workers play a growing role in the labour force, making up an estimated five per cent of today’s global workforce.
“As we celebrate International Migrants Day this week, this report stands as a clear reminder of the role migrants play in the development of their communities worldwide”, said Frank Laczko, GMDAC Director.
“But while the global economy continues to rely heavily on migrant workers, people continue to face terrible risks when they cannot access legal pathways in their search for better opportunities.”
While migration policies are difficult to measure, the data available show a trend toward limiting safe, legal migration options. While 81 per cent of the countries participating in IOM’s Migration Governance Indicators (MGI) have at least one government body dedicated to border control, just 38 per cent have a defined national migration strategy, with only 31 per cent aligning it with a national economic development strategy.
“This report highlights…the invaluable contributions migrants have in our communities and economies, and the need for concrete action to increase legal channels”, Daniels said.