On December 10 and 11, countries will meet in Marrakech, Morocco to adopt the first-ever global agreement on a shared approach to international migration: The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.
With more than 258 million migrants currently living outside their country of birth – and that number expected to rise – the need for a common, cooperative approach to migration has never been more urgent.
Migrants, who are entitled to the same fundamental freedoms and human rights as all people, often face dangerous conditions fleeing conflict, persecution, poverty, or lack of opportunity. And often, once they reach a new community, they are met with harmful misperceptions and resistance.
While migration clearly presents challenges that cannot be handled by any one country alone, it also presents many shared benefits and opportunities that are often overlooked.
Here are six facts about migration you should know:
1. The number of international migrants has grown by 49% since 2000, going from 2.7% to 3.4% of the world’s population. Migration is projected to increase in the coming years for many reasons, including large demographic changes, climate change, conflict, and more.
2. In 2017, migrants sent home approximately $600 billion in remittances, or roughly 15% of their earnings, back to their countries of origin – that’s about three times more than all official development assistance.
3. Nearly half – or 48% of all migrants – are women. While research shows that women send home higher percentages of their earnings than men, women migrants often face more restrictive employment policies. They also face greater risks of exploitation and gender-based violence.
4. 40% of U.S. Fortune 500 companies in 2017 were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. Do you use Google or read the Huffington Post? Both were founded by migrants, which showcases how migration is a valuable source of innovation. (Google co-founder Sergey Brin migrated from former Soviet Union, and Arianna Huffington immigrated from Greece).
5. According to the UN Migration Agency (IOM), so far this year, more than 3,000 people have died or gone missing on migratory routes. The journey across international borders and into unfamiliar communities exposes migrants to a range of dangers: physical and sexual violence, exploitation, abduction, and extortion. Children are particularly vulnerable to these risks.
6. The Global Compact for Migration sets forth 23 objectives for protecting migrants and better managing migration across local, national, regional, and global levels. While the compact itself is not legally binding, these goals establish an important foundation for sovereign states to take coordinated action. The goals include reducing the risks migrants face during migration, improving the collection and analysis of migration data, fostering mutually beneficial conditions for migrants in host communities, and more.
Of course, these six facts only provide a snapshot of the challenges, benefits, and opportunities of migration in our world today. But if there’s one key takeaway from all the facts available, it’s this: migration is a global phenomenon that requires global cooperation. And as Secretary-General António Guterres has described, “The Global Compact for Migration emphasizes that collaboration is fundamental to addressing human mobility.”
Learn more about the Global Compact for Migration here.
Photo Credit: Amanda Nero/IOM