|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Commission on Population and Development
4th & 5th Meetings (AM & PM)
Speakers Highlight ‘Dual Face’ of Migration as Commission on Population
and Development Continues Forty-sixth Session
The dual face of migration, providing wide-ranging opportunities for development but also dangers, was emphasized today as delegates in the Commission on Population and Development shared their national experiences on a broad array of trends in the demographics of migration.
Many speakers offered examples of how their countries benefitted from remittances sent home by nationals working abroad, with Uganda’s representative noting that remittances to his country amounted to 4 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP).
Australia’s representative, noting his country’s efforts to reduce remittance costs, declared: “Every reduction in costs has massive benefits for migrants and their home countries,” adding that the reductions delivered about $1 billion more to poor families each year.
Even so, some speakers cautioned against over-reliance on remittances because their national impact could not be assumed. While a number of delegates said that the remittances their countries received exceeded official development assistance (ODA), Pakistan’s representative emphasized that remittances should supplement, but not supplant, development assistance.
Many speakers noted the social benefits of migration, such as increased educational opportunities for migrants, the introduction of new cultural perspectives in host countries, the transfer of knowledge and the establishment of strong bonds between origin and destination countries.
At the same time, speakers noted, migrants were often subjected to discriminatory and racist actions and policies, expulsion, persecution and other violations of their human rights, as South Africa’s delegate pointed out. Women and young people were particularly vulnerable, he added.
That was not only true of international migration, but for internal migrants as well. Ghana’s representative, speaking about rural-urban migration in his country, said young people travelling to cities in search of employment often wound up living in the streets, especially when they lacked marketable skills. They contributed to the growth of poverty, he said, adding that young women in such circumstances also fell prey to unwanted pregnancies and abortions, among other health issues.
Cuba’s representative said his country’s internal migration volumes had dropped, as had the population of the capital. On the other hand, small and medium-sized cities continued to grow, as did rural areas. As for external migration, he said Cuba had recently decided to relax its legislation in that regard, seeking to ensure that the movement of its citizens to and from other countries would guarantee them full rights in a complete, organized and safe manner, and in accordance with current law.
It was important to integrate migrants into society, many speakers agreed. Portugal’s representative said his country’s integration policies were internationally acknowledged as a good example for the international community. They had led to acceptance of migrants by the local population, with 66 per cent of Portuguese agreeing that immigrants “contribute a lot to the country and that despite the economic and financial crisis”, immigrants were recognized as being equally affected.
Israel’s representative also shared her country’s ongoing experience of integrating waves of immigrants, saying that in its first decade, it had received an unprecedented number of immigrants, more than any State previously. A second wave had arrived in the 1990s, creating a diverse and heterogeneous population. Israel’s absorption policies were developed to meet their needs, she said, citing various forms of financial and educational assistance as well as an “absorption basket” that allowed immigrants to postpone employment and focus on learning Hebrew.
Also today, the Commission held a panel discussion on “Migration and development” moderated by Tobias Billström, Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy of Sweden. Panellists were Aderanti Adepoju, Coordinator of the Network of Migration Research on Africa and Chief Executive of the Human Resources Development Centre in Lagos, Nigeria; Marcela Cerrutti of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research at the Center of Population Studies, San Martin National University, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Marek Okólski, Professor of Demography at the University of Warsaw in Poland.
Participating in today’s general discussion were representatives of Myanmar, Brazil, Mexico, Belarus, Malaysia, Ukraine, Indonesia, Switzerland, Poland, Canada, Norway, Germany, Senegal, Russian Federation, Kyrgyzstan, Belgium, Iran, Botswana, Argentina, Malta, Jamaica, El Salvador, Malawi, Japan and the Republic of Moldova.
The Commission will continue its work when it reconvenes at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 24 April.
The Commission on Population and Development met this morning to begin its general debate on the topic “national experience in population matters: new trends in migration — demographic aspects”. For background information, see Press Releases POP/1011 and POP/1012.
WIN MYINT ( Myanmar) said his country had experienced significant internal migration as well as outward migration from less developed regions, with females more likely to migrate than males. Migrants were expected to be the key driving force behind Myanmar’s future socioeconomic development, he said, noting, however, that it was difficult to obtain information about international migration from the country because of its irregular pattern. Hopefully, accurate figures would be available after the 2014 census. He cited the establishment of the National Commission on Population and Development, and the decision to conduct a nationwide census in 2014 as two significant undertakings on population and development. Information from the census would be used to enhance the people’s socioeconomic life, he said, adding that Myanmar was seeking resources to conduct the census from development partners. Of the total $58.5 million needed, a gap of $38.5 million remained to be filled.
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP (Brazil), associating herself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the “Group of 77” and China, said migration should be considered from the standpoint of due respect for human rights. “The lack of recognition of migrants’ rights results in relegating these populations to the condition of second-class citizens,” she said, emphasizing also that it was essential to avoid criminalizing irregular migrants. Excessively strict legislation that failed to ensure the protection of migrants’ rights created incentives for such illicit practices as trafficking in persons.
Underlining the importance of striking a balance between demand for labour in receiving economies and the interests and needs of those willing to emigrate, she said international migration had been a decisive factor in shaping Brazil’s multiethnic, multicultural identity. Today, its national immigration policy was based on the protection of migrants’ rights, which were safeguarded by the Constitution and other laws. It focused on the integration of migrants into society, including amnesty for undocumented migrants, and also recognized the important role of migration policies for regional integration and development, she added.
MARTHINUS VAN SCHALKWYK (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said discussions on the movement of people must centre around three sets of issues: the development potential offered by migration; respect for the human rights of migrants; and the United Nations development agenda. On the first, today’s world offered great opportunities for human resource development, skills, knowledge transfer, trade, and enhanced income distribution between countries. However, such opportunities would only translate into development if all people could gain reasonable access to them. The persisting inequality within and between countries continued to impede people’s access to opportunities to develop their full potential. In that regard, migration could place many people in a position to gain better access to resources for development. As for human rights, he said that, historically, migrants had often been subjected to discriminatory and racist actions and policies, including exploitation, expulsion, persecution and other abuses. Migrant women, youth and children were among the most abused in that regard. Governments must ensure the full realization of the human rights of all women migrants, including by protecting them against violence and exploitation, and integrating them fully into the labour force, he stressed.
OMAR DE LA TORRE DE LA MORA ( Mexico) said his country had a complex migration situation as it was a point of origin, transit and destination for migrants. Emphasizing the importance of coordinating the formulation of policies with neighbouring countries, he pointed out that more than 12 million Mexicans, many of them in irregular situations, lived in the United States. Such people must be incorporated into the global labour market, he said, noting that Mexico was working to keep more of its population at home and to become more of a destination country for migration. The Government was creating a new legal framework for a comprehensive migration policy, taking the views of civil society into account, and was also working on training programmes for migration officials. The Government would have a modern and forward-looking migration policy, to be set out in 2013, he said. Strengthening international mechanisms was the ideal way to tackle migration issues, he added.
VADIM PISAREVICH ( Belarus) said it was becoming increasingly evident that migration was a significant component of demographic processes. Reducing social tensions in some regions fuelled economic development in others. As for potentially negative impacts, he said that unless there was proper regulation and oversight, migration would increase the flows of smuggling and human trafficking. It was therefore imperative to tackle the challenges associated with migration and human trafficking in a comprehensive way, he said, adding that success in one area was bound to produce success in others. Belarus was interested in taking full advantage of migration in order to slow down emigration and preserve its intellectual and labour capacities, he said. At the same time, the Government was keen to bring in foreigners with high skills. The policies and measures it had undertaken included monitoring and analysing migration so as to see clearly where and how many immigrants were needed to offset the national population decline. The Government also encouraged emigrants and members of the diaspora to return home and put their capacities to full use. Belarus was also seeking to integrate migrants into society through legal, organizational and financial measures, he said.
CHUA HOON HWA, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development of Malaysia, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that with appropriate policies in place, migration could have a positive impact, but the issue’s complexity exacerbated its challenges. “One glove cannot fit all,” he said of migration policies. As a developing and relatively young country, Malaysia’s population was growing, but its growth rate was decreasing, and the country must therefore ensure continuing economic growth while effectively managing migration. Most immigrants to Malaysia were employed mainly in the manufacturing, agricultural and related sectors, working for relatively low wages. The Government was putting measures in place to ensure their rights, he said, adding that Malaysia was particularly concerned about women and children, and had therefore revised its anti-trafficking and anti-smuggling laws. Malaysia was also experiencing “brain drain”, with more than 1 million skilled workers living abroad, and had put measures in place to attract them back home.
YAROSLAV GOLITSYN ( Ukraine) said it was estimated that his country’s current internal migration situation was stable, but there was a trend towards significant volumes of international labour emigration. Like many other countries, Ukraine was facing visible social and demographic developments such as declining population, the gradual decrease in the numbers of young and middle-aged people and rise in that of the aged, as well as noticeably falling fertility rates. In addition, there was a trend towards the emigration of highly educated and skilled workers and an influx of illegal immigrants, he said. Ukraine sought to contribute to the global process of eliminating inequalities affecting migrants, displaced persons and refugees, while combating criminal inflows and human trafficking, both domestically and internationally.
SUDIBYO ALIMOESO (Indonesia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that, as the world’s fourth most populous country, population issues were of the greatest importance to Indonesia. It was projected that the national population would grow to 290 million by 2030 and to 305 million by 2035. The population was affected by both internal and external migration. Internally, opportunities for migration were increasing, and the number of commuters and seasonal migrants was rising. There was also an increased inflow of international migrants, he said, noting that Indonesia was changing from a largely rural to an increasingly urban society. There was a large income gap between the local population and highly skilled immigrants. The Government was paying attention to the plight of migrants, including by promoting their access to sexual and reproductive health, he said, also pointing out that a large number of Indonesians, 77 per cent of them women, were making a living as migrant workers outside the country. It was important to protect such overseas workers, especially in terms of their placement and training, he added, concluding by noting that Indonesia’s long-term development plan put people, its greatest resource, at its centre.
PAUL SEGER (Switzerland) said migration could often be a net positive, as in the case of the many millions of international migrants who supported family members through remittances sent to the global South. They sent an amount estimated to be three or four times higher than official development assistance (ODA), but it also involved trade-offs and costs to migrants, their families and society. Xenophobia, discrimination and exploitation, including through human trafficking, of women and girls in particular, were among the risks, he said. International migration was important to Switzerland, the population of which was 26.4 per cent foreign-born. The entry into force of the new Foreigners Act in 2008 had brought concrete improvements for immigrants. Briefly describing his country’s foreign migration policy, he said Switzerland had created the innovative instrument of migration partnerships, the aim of which was to ensure a comprehensive approach to migration and to achieve an equitable balance between its own interests, those of its partner countries and those of the migrants themselves, in order to promote opportunities while creating synergies between the different players involved. So far, Switzerland had established migration partnerships with Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria and Tunisia, he said.
ALINA POTRYKOWSKA, Secretary-General, Government Population Council of Poland, described her country’s recent demographic trends, saying that the population of 38.5 million was largely homogenous, with 92 per cent ethnic Poles. Nevertheless, Poland had a large number of emigrants, and since 2004 the number of Poles residing temporarily outside the country had doubled. They made up about 6 per cent of the total population, she said, noting that the consequences of such a significant population outflow in such a short time were very complex. It was therefore crucial to create conditions suitable to their return. Indeed, the recent changes would have specific consequences for the labour supply and other key areas. Migration policy should supplement family policies aimed at increasing fertility rates, she said. In 2012, the Council of Ministers had adopted the Migration Policy of Poland, the main themes of which included adapting migration to labour needs, controlling irregular migration, protecting migrants, as well as issues relating to citizenship, repatriation and monitoring migration processes.
GILLES RIVARD ( Canada) said international migration produced benefits in both origin and destination countries, in the form of greater educational and economic opportunities, enhanced safety and security for those fleeing danger and persecution, as well as significant transfers of skills, knowledge and ideas. Internal migration was also an important factor of economic development and remained a key driver of urban growth. Yet for too many people, migration was not taking place by way of choice, but by way of force, intimidation or coercion, he said. Recognizing that, Canada was taking strong action to prevent and eliminate human trafficking in all its forms, and remained gravely concerned about the worsening plight of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons. By supporting international humanitarian organizations, the Government helped to ensure that those forced to flee disaster- or conflict-affected situations were physically safe, received adequate health care and education, and could gain access to food, water and shelter. Through its National Action Plan for the Implementation of Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, Canada also supported projects that integrated the needs and interests of women and girls into relief and recovery efforts, he added.
To end its morning meeting, the Commission held a panel discussion on “migration and development”. Moderated by Tobias Billström, Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy of Sweden, it featured the following panellists: Aderanti Adepoju, Coordinator, Network of Migration Research on Africa and Chief Executive, Human Resources Development Centre, Lagos, Nigeria; Marcela Cerrutti, National Council of Scientific and Technical Research, Center of Population Studies, San Martin National University, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Marek Okólski, Professor of Demography, University of Warsaw, Poland.
Mr. BILLSTRÖM, in opening remarks, said the last 20 years had seen major changes in the size and complexity of migration. Women, for example, were migrating more frequently as heads of households. Emphasizing the need for rights-based, gender-sensitive and coherent policies, he said migration was a key driver of human progress, but it could also have negative consequences if not properly managed. Migration could contribute to both origin and destination countries while benefitting the migrants themselves.
He then asked Mr. Okólski a question relating to changes in major migration patterns between the final decade of the last century and the beginning of the current one.
Mr. OKÓLSKI replied that, among other trends, more migration was taking place by choice than by necessity. Additionally, the stock of migrants had increased while that of refugees had decreased from 9 per cent to 7.6 per cent between the two decades. The diversity of movement had also changed, with the top 10 destination countries receiving a smaller share of migrants. There had also been less regular migration in the more recent decade, largely due to the freedom of movement allowed through European Union countries.
He went on to say there had also been a drop in irregular migration between the United States and Mexico due to strict controls, the economic and financial crisis in the former and the rapid development and declining fertility rates in the latter. Migrants were now better educated and more skilled, and there were also more diversified forms of movement, such as circularity and temporary migration, in addition to greater employment- and education-related migration. A million people had migrated for education in 1990, a number that had risen to 4 million in 2009, with most foreign students coming from China. He also touched on the effects of the Arab Spring on migration, and on the significant rise in internal migration within China.
Mr. ADEPOJU also described several new trends in migration, including the increased migration of professionals as a result of the growth of international companies; “reverse brain drain”, with highly educated workers moving back to such countries as India and China; increasing circular migration; exorbitant increases in the cost of migration since the past decade; increases in transit migration; and a new migration paradigm resulting from the global economic and financial crisis.
Ms. CERRUTTI added that despite the recent changes, opportunities were still unequally spread across the world. However, there had been some interesting changes at the global level, including in the policies of industrialized countries, which had become more restrictive. Certain countries, such as Spain, were not as attractive as they had been a few years ago. In the global South, meanwhile, many countries had shown significant progress and were attracting more migrants. New intra-regional flows, supported by bilateral agreements, were being seen between countries of the South, she said, pointing out that South America’s Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) countries specifically had a migration policy that favoured mobility and protected of the rights of migrants.
Mr. OKÓLSKI cited two other recent immigration phenomena, saying there had been a decline in migration to highly developed countries, such as those of the European Union. There had also been a larger influx of migrants than expected from Eastern to Western European countries as a result of the European Union’s free-movement policies.
Mr. ADEPOJU, asked about good practices for diaspora communities, said their members could send capital, knowledge and ideas back to their origin countries. They were a positive resource that could help to address poverty and other problems in their homelands. He cited about 50 diaspora organizations, as well as Government ministries created to deal specifically with such communities. Singling out the best practices of a few countries, he cited particular policies in China, Ghana, Mexico, Thailand, El Salvador, Mali and South Africa, in addition to India’s attracting skilled labour — “reverse brain drain” — Venezuela’s expatriate-exchange programme and Nigeria’s annual Diaspora Day. There must be a match for particular skills in order for them to be useful at home or in receiving communities, he stressed.
Ms. CERRUTTI noted the impact of remittances on Latin American and Caribbean countries, saying that in various countries of the South, States were investing in scientific and technological programmes, which helped to repatriate scientists from diaspora communities. Regional agreements in Latin America favoured the circulation of skills and talent through educational initiatives, among others. She noted the growing interests of countries in their diaspora communities, but cautioned that for such initiatives to work there must be an organized and mobilized civil society of migrants, as well as significant commitment by origin countries to provide financial support for diaspora communities.
Mr. OKÓLSKI, responding to a question from the floor about how to ensure migration by choice rather than necessity, said migration was not an exogenous process and no migration policy could change that on its own. Policy could modify existing patterns, but State interference in advance of recognized patterns often made the situation worse. Further, the line between voluntary and involuntary migration was blurred, which made it difficult to formulate policy. Political or natural disasters, of course, caused involuntary migration, he said, adding that better monitoring and aid were needed in such instances. Most political migration resulted from undemocratic and corrupt States, and measures were needed to democratize the political system concerned. Fostering national development was one means to do so, he said. Wealthy and democratic States would have to give up some things, including their control of the international arms trade and their active recruitment of highly skilled workers who were needed at home. However, that would be tantamount to untying the Gordian Knot, he warned.
Mr. ADEPOJU, noting that about 10 per cent of the world population migrated internationally or nationally, said most people did not migrate. Policies, such as for local and national development, were needed to keep potential migrants from feeling the need to leave. Some causes of migration were fluid, making it difficult to determine whether migration was voluntary or involuntary. Migrants should be made aware of their rights, but also of their obligations, for example, abiding by the rules and regulations of destination countries. Adequate education and access to decent jobs for youth and women would help ensure that migration was by choice. For migration to be voluntary in the face of natural disasters, the disequilibrium among the three “Ds” — demography, democracy and development — must be addressed.
Responding to a question about migrants’ contributions, he said the focus should be placed on remittances, skilled migration and brain drain, brain circulation and brain gain. Diaspora bonds, diaspora transnational loans, diaspora philanthropy and direct investment should be encouraged, he said, noting that remittances had exceeded ODA in many countries of the South. The costs of remittances must be reduced, he added, before enumerating the many measures undertaken by Governments, among them pre-departure training programmes that would prepare migrants for life abroad and how to reintegrate when they turned home, as well as ways in which to disseminate investment possibilities.
Ms. CERRUTTI added that the benefits that origin countries enjoyed from migration must not replace Government efforts to improve conditions there. Migrants who were socially and economically integrated into destination countries but also had strong links to their homelands were major players in bringing about changes in their home societies, she said. Households that received remittances should enjoy their direct benefits, but the national impact of remittances should not be assumed. Further, she said brain circulation was one of the most useful tools for technology transfer and collaborative research. In contrast to brain drain, it served as a basis for people moving between countries to transfer technology and knowledge.
As the floor was opened for questions and comments, the representative of Mexico asked whether any indicators were available on the contributions of migrants to their destination countries. How could those contributions be made more visible? Meanwhile, the representative of Nigeria encouraged members of diaspora communities to contribute to development in their home countries, noting that the matter of sustainability had not yet been raised. In particular, how could Governments better ensure the security of lives and property, the lack of which often discouraged those who had emigrated from staying?
Ms. CERRUTTI replied that there were no clear instruments for measuring the contribution of migrants to destination countries. Such evaluations were very important for the social integration of migrants, as discriminatory practices were often based on ignorance about the important contributions of migrants. Government efforts were indeed required to raise the visibility of their contributions.
Mr. ADEPOJU cited studies that had shown that most migrants in developed countries spent most of their income on consumption, taxes and other financial obligations. In other words, they did a lot to contribute to the economies of their destination countries, in addition to doing work that nationals of those countries were unwilling to do.
GEIR O. PEDERSEN ( Norway) said migration could bring hope, but it could also mean losing everything one had ever known. “We all have a stake in this.” In particular, migration could pose serious risks to women, children and other vulnerable people. Those afraid of Government institutions were easy prey for exploitation and organized crime such as human trafficking, he said, adding that the global economic and financial crisis had created even more opportunities for such exploitation. To prevent that, Norway had long collaborated with other Governments, international organizations and civil society, he said, urging other countries to strengthen their migration frameworks and sign on to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol on trafficking.
Noting that young people made up a large percentage of the world’s migrants, he said they must have access to reproductive health care and be able to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Norway had once had one of the highest emigration rates in Europe, with about a quarter of its population moving to the United States, and its Government therefore understood that “brain drain” could have obvious negative consequences for origin countries. For that reason, Norway practised a policy of avoiding the recruitment of health-care workers from developing countries since they were needed at home. Remittances were another crucial component of the global economy, he said, describing a Norwegian remittance database designed to foster competition and ultimately reduce remittance costs.
ÁLVARO JOSÉ COSTA DE MENDONÇA E MOURA (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union, noted that 2011 census reports indicated that his country’s population had grown by 1.9 per cent, an increase resulting principally from immigration. Portugal’s integration policies promoted, among other things, secure long-term residency, labour-market mobility, and non-discriminatory access to health and education, in addition to being internationally acknowledged as a good example for the international community. About 66 per cent of Portuguese society agreed that “immigrants contribute a lot to the country, and that despite the economic and financial crisis” and job loss, immigrants were recognized as being equally affected. Portugal had also seen an increase in emigration, and the Portuguese diaspora played an important role in national development strategies, he said.
PETER SILBERBERG ( Germany) said that migration was prompted by demographics in developing countries, where populations were growing, and in industrial countries, where they were ageing. Germany received many migrants, and 20 per cent of its population was either of foreign origin or descended from those who were, he said, noting that migrants had strengthened the country. Migration must have a “triple-win” effect, for the migrants themselves, for their origin countries and for their host countries. Not only did migrants send remittances to their homelands, they also furthered relationships between host and origin countries, he said, enumerating a series of German technical aid programmes, including one that helped immigrants invest or start businesses in their home countries.
CHRIS STOKES ( Australia) said immigration was a defining feature of his country’s recent history, pointing out that more than 7.2 million people had migrated there since the Second World War, and that about one in four Australians had been born outside the country. With Indonesia and Italy, Australia had led efforts to lower global remittance costs, including by securing a commitment by Group of Twenty, in 2011, to reduce the global average cost to 5 per cent by 2014. “Every reduction in costs has massive benefits for migrants and their home countries,” he said, adding that reduced costs had delivered about $1 billion more to poor families each year, and that attaining the 5 per cent target would deliver an additional $15 billion each year.
In that vein, Australia had taken concrete steps to reduce remittance costs and was urging others to do the same, he continued. In 2011, it had contributed $3.5 million to the World Bank Remittances Trust Fund in order to help developing countries reduce remittance costs. Noting that more people were moving from more places — and through more places — more often, he said migration today was not only about moving permanently but also about mobility. In such an increasingly connected world, “the global effects of migration need not be considered only in zero-sum national terms,” he said. With many migrants not necessarily staying permanently in their destination countries, concerns about the flow of talent out of developing countries may now need to incorporate the idea of return benefits to origin countries. Migrants may travel abroad but then return home with new skills, expertise and an ability to build their home society in ways that had not been within their capacity prior to migrating.
FATOU ISIDORA MARA NIANG (Senegal), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said her country had seen high levels of migration, leading the Government to adopt reforms and measures to deal with the phenomenon. Amid rampant urbanization and the rapid growth in unemployment, many international migrants were young people, and 35 per cent were women. While migration remained important in terms of remittances and the transfer of ideas, “brain drain” remained a problem, she said. For example, more than half of Senegal’s trained doctors and many of its nurses had left the country. The Government was therefore implementing an integrated, coherent and coordinated national migration policy, and working with partners in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support migrants. In a rapidly evolving world, migration must be a dynamic and flexible process, and cooperation between origin and destination countries must be a core strategy, she emphasized.
STEPHEN KWANKYE (Ghana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, spoke of a wide array of migration issues, among them internal migration from rural to urban areas, particularly on the part of young people, and cross-border migration to and from neighbouring countries. Young people seeking employment in cities often contributed to the growth of poverty, especially when they lacked marketable skills and wound up living on the streets. Young women in such circumstances fell prey to unwanted pregnancies, abortions and other health issues. Noting the importance of overseas remittances, he said they had exceeded ODA in Ghana. Migration was therefore a good way out of poverty in some cases, but a contributor to poverty in others. A comprehensive draft policy on migration was awaiting Government action, he said, adding that it recognized, among other things, gender equality and the importance of access to health services, especially for women.
Ms. STRAKHOVA (Russian Federation) said immigrants played an important role in her country’s demographic development, having compensated for more than half of the national population lost over the last two decades. International migration would continue to contribute to national population growth, and was particularly important in attracting working-age migrants due to a decrease in that segment of the population over the past 15 years. A demographic priority for the Russian Federation was to attract Russians back home from abroad, she said, adding that the Government was simplifying immigration to attract highly skilled foreign workers. Regions throughout the country were working to stimulate immigration in accordance with labour needs, she said, adding that attention was also paid to integrating migrants into society.
TALAIBEK KYDYROV ( Kyrgyzstan) said almost a fifth of his country’s population was made up of external working migrants, and the Government had therefore put a strong system of protection in place. Kyrgyzstan had a large discrepancy between the demand and supply for jobs, and many young people were seeking work abroad, he said. Indeed, migration was the best choice, and sometimes the only one. Kyrgyzstan’s migration policies were aimed at: increasing opportunities for employment abroad through organized programmes with destination countries; ensuring social insurance and protecting the rights of working migrants; increasing the competitiveness of workers through education and training; developing norms and regulations to support migrants; and improving the labour market to create opportunities, both domestically and abroad. Kyrgyzstan’s Plan of Action for 2013-2020 aimed to create new areas of employment, to ensure the social and economic protection of migrants, and to provide workers with professional training.
BÉNÉDICTE FRANKINET (Belgium), associating herself with the European Union, said her country had recently improved its asylum-application review procedures in order to make the process speedier, and participated closely with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on several programmes. Belgium had long attached importance to combating human trafficking and, to that end, was working through various initiatives — including prevention, assistance to victims, prosecution of traffickers and partnerships with other countries — which had led to good results. She underscored the country’s policy of integrating migrants, which was focused primarily on new arrivals. One specific measure was to ensure that immigrants were aware of both their rights and their duties, she stressed.
GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI ( Iran) stressed the importance of enhancing coherence at all levels to support the positive aspects of migration while reducing the negative ones. He called upon all Member States to address the root causes of migration resulting from foreign occupation, as well as those of trafficking in persons, among other areas. Condemning racism, xenophobia and religious intolerance, he emphasized the need for a holistic approach to migration at the national and international levels. Large numbers of highly skilled Iranians were living abroad, he noted, urging States not to inhibit contacts between highly skilled migrants and their origin countries because they enhanced the transfer of knowledge.
CHARLES THEMBANI NTWAAGAE (Botswana) said that before independence in 1966, his country’s citizens had crossed international borders, especially to neighbouring countries, in search of employment. That had helped to generate much-needed foreign exchange through remittances at a time when the country had been classified as being among the world’s poorest. However, rapid post-independence economic growth and urbanization had led to a significant rise in the number of migrants coming into Botswana. Today it was a net receiver of migrants, he said, attributing the influx of thousands of immigrants to rapid economic growth, coupled with a peaceful and stable political environment. As for internal migration, Botswana continued to see the movement of people from rural to urban areas, driven mainly by the search for employment and education opportunities. That pattern strained the Government’s capacity to provide infrastructure, services and resources. For that reason, Botswana periodically undertook national population censuses in seeking the appropriate development policy interventions to address unique challenges brought about by changes in demography. To that end, rural development remained a priority for the Government, which had put a number of policies and programmes in place with the aim of enhancing standards in rural communities, he said.
EDUARDO PORRETTI (Argentina), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, called for a “change of paradigm” on migration, a move away from security and border controls and towards a more comprehensive approach. Migrants were particularly vulnerable and their vulnerability could be exacerbated on the basis of their health, status, sexual orientation and other factors. It was crucial that the international community step up to support that vulnerable group, including by signing on to relevant international conventions, he said. Argentina had set a new paradigm, with a new law preventing any type of discrimination against migrants, who enjoyed full and equal rights, regardless of status. All States should implement clear policies in that area, providing migrants, among other things, with quality services for sexual and reproductive health.
CHRISTOPHER GRIMA ( Malta), associating himself with the European Union, said migration must be well-managed through legal means so that people’s movements would be transparent for origin, transit and destination countries, and so that migrants would travel with full awareness of their rights as well as a clear understanding of their future prospects. Malta had an emigrant population abroad, which contributed to social and economic growth in host countries and in Malta, he said, warning, however, that migration was often also a source of abuse. The Government had a long-standing commitment to protect those who needed protection, he said. As one of the world’s most densely populated countries, Malta faced serious challenges from irregular immigration, and was working towards resettling beneficiaries of international protection, assigning priority to voluntary returnees and providing reintegration assistance to those who took it up.
JUDITH KING ( Israel) said the successful integration of immigrants was a priority for her country. In the first three years of Israel’s existence, more than 650,000 immigrants had arrived from the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, and by the end of that decade the country had almost 1 million immigrants. No State had ever contended with such a large number of immigrants and such a high rate of population growth in such a brief period, she stressed. A second wave had arrived in the 1990s from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. Those immigrants had created a heterogeneous population. She described the absorption policies developed to meet their needs, including various forms of financial and educational assistance and an “absorption basket” that allowed immigrants to postpone employment and focus on learning Hebrew.
EASTON WILLIAMS, Manager, Population Unit, Planning Institute of Jamaica, said his country had long been characterized by high levels of migration. Between 60 and 80 per cent of Jamaica’s tertiary graduates had left the country, but due to a high fertility rate, it retained a large working-age population. Internal migration rates were high, with large movements towards urban centres. Moreover, Jamaica enjoyed a comprehensive approach to migration, which touched on a number of issues: diaspora and development; remittances; return migration and reintegration; and the human rights of migrants, among others. Finally, he stressed that his country strongly supported the explicit incorporation of migration and its links to development into the post-2015 development agenda.
SHAHZAD AHMED MALIK, Chief, Population, Planning and Development Division of Pakistan, said that some 7 million Pakistanis, out of the national population of 184 million, lived overseas. The country’s population was young, mobile and rapidly urbanizing, he said, adding that they enjoyed a high growth rate. However, the economic benefits of international migration were accompanied by the loss of human capital and “brain drain”. Outlining migration-related themes tackled by the Government, he said they included supervising the activities of overseas employment promoters; managing internal migration; paying special attention to rural development; and building public-private partnerships focused on irregular settlements, among others.
JOSÉ MANUEL CASTILLO PÉREZ GÓMEZ ( El Salvador) said his country experienced dynamic migration and was also a major transit point. In 2012, for the first time under law, the Government had created an organization comprising Salvadoran migrant organizations, which had enabled them to make their concerns known. Further, coordinated efforts were being taken to protect Salvadoran migrants abroad, and a campaign was under way for those planning to emigrate so they could make informed decisions before leaving. In exploring conditions that could help migrants return, the Government had sought the views of civil society and academia, he said. Recognizing the contribution of Salvadorans abroad, it was making arrangements to enable them to vote from abroad in the 2014 presidential elections. They would receive special identity documents which could also help them regularize their situations in host countries.
JUAN CARLOS ALFONSO, Head, Centre for Population and Development Studies, National Statistics and Information Office of Cuba, said his country was demographically developed and its internal migration volumes had dropped, currently standing at 50 per cent less than in the first half of the 1990s. The population in the capital, for example, had decreased alongside its relative influence on the country’s total number of inhabitants, in comparison to the previous decade. On the other hand, small and medium-sized cities continued to grow, as did rural areas. Turning to external migration, he said Cuba had recently decided to relax its legislation in that regard, seeking to ensure that the movement of its citizens to and from other countries would guarantee them their full rights in a complete, organized and safe manner, and in accordance with current law. But despite its commitment to the organized, safe and regular flow of its migrants, the United States continued to implement a “cruel economic, commercial and financial embargo” against Cuba, he said, calling for the lifting of that “illegal and immoral” blockade.
CHARLES P. MSOSA (Malawi), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country’s population structure was changing very rapidly, with migration playing a pivotal role. Migration patterns were age- and sex-selective, with more young males aged 15-34 migrating from rural to urban areas than any other group. Socioeconomic challenges arising from that movement included land and housing shortages, poor sanitation, crime, HIV and AIDS infection as well as unemployment, he said. The Government had taken a number of measures aimed at addressing internal as well as international migration, including: the construction of more tertiary education institutions; the introduction of loan schemes to support small-scale enterprises; the drafting of a human-trafficking law to protect children and other vulnerable groups; and the introduction of incentives to retain workers in public sectors such as health. In addition, the Government had revised policy regulations governing banks and other financial institutions to enhance the flow of remittances from Malawians in the diaspora, he said.
REIKO HAYASHI, Director of International Research and Cooperation, National Institute of Population and Social Security Research of Japan, said Japanese society was slowly and steadily becoming more internationalized, with recent statistics showing that 1 in 25 marriages was between a Japanese person and his or her foreign partner, and that one in 50 children born in Japan had at least one non-Japanese parent. One of the steps that the Government had taken to cope with the increasing number of foreign-born citizens and foreign nationals was the “Basic Resident Registration System”, previously used exclusively to register Japanese nationals, but now extended since last July to cover foreign residents.
She went on to point out that the number of Japanese who went abroad had also been increasing recently. In 2011, some 1.8 million Japanese nationals had been living outside the country — a record high. They not only needed basic information or protection in emergency cases, but also services such as health care or basic education for their children, which required close coordination with each destination country. Looking at the broader Asian region, she said that while the rapid decline in fertility and the consequent population ageing could be seen as positive results of human development, on the other hand, they could trigger a shortage of manpower in labour-producing countries.
WILBERFORCE KISAMBA MUGERWA ( Uganda) said his country experienced internal rural-to-urban and rural-to-rural migration as well as international migration flows, particularly in the form of refugees from conflict in the Great Lakes region. About 85 per cent of the population continued to live in rural areas, but rural-to-urban migration had created rapid urban population growth, while urban infrastructure had not kept pace. Furthermore, rural-to-urban migration, principally by the young, left rural areas without manpower needed for crop cultivation, as it was principally the elderly and the weak who remained behind. Rural-to-rural migration also had its own set of problems, including environmental degradation and conflict situations. Uganda was host to more than 230,000 refugees from the Great Lakes region, he said, noting that porous borders with neighbouring countries made it difficult to distribute identity cards and keep track of the population. Even so, refugees enjoyed all the rights assured by United Nations and African Union conventions and protocols, he emphasized. On remittances from Ugandans abroad, he said they amounted to 4 per cent of gross domestic product.
GHEORGHE LEUCĂ, Deputy Director General for Multilateral Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova, said migration was a process which linked countries and borders, making them more transparent. As such, international cooperation must prevail with the aim of ensuring that the right to free movement was respected. Unquestionably, the effect of cooperation must envisage the balance between the right to movement and the rights of sovereign States to control their borders, he emphasized.
Sharing his country’s experience, he said several positive aspects of migration had evolved in recent years, including a significant positive impact on macroeconomic stability resulting from remittances. At the same time, however, the country faced several challenges with regard to its low fertility rate, the ageing population, children left without parents and shortages in the labour force. Addressing such demographic challenges at the domestic level required an integrative and comprehensive approach based on key human rights principles and ensuring a gender-sensitive perspective, he said, emphasizing in that respect the European Union-Moldova Mobility Partnership and the new Extended Migration Profile, issued with the support of the European Union and the International Organization for Migration.
* *** *For information media • not an official record