HighlightsVol 25 No. 12 - December 2020

Pandemic expected to cause growth in global migration to plummet

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically affected all forms of human mobility. Around the globe, the closing of national borders and severe disruptions to international land, air and maritime travel obliged hundreds of thousands of people to cancel or delay plans of moving abroad, left thousands of migrants stranded or unable to return, and forced countless persons to return to their home countries earlier than planned.

While it is too soon to gauge the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on migration, the latest data suggest that the pandemic may have caused a severe disruption in the growth of the global number of international migrants. Further, the loss of remittances in low- and middle-income countries due to COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the lives and well-being of thousands of migrants and their families.

While high-income countries continue to attract the largest number of labour migrants, low- and middle-income countries absorb the majority of people displaced across national borders due to persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. These inequities in global migration governance call for a more equitable sharing of responsibilities in finding sustainable solutions to the plight of refugees and have important implications for sustainable development.

In the beginning of next year, UN DESA’s Population Division will launch the International Migration Highlights, which will include updated estimates on the global number of international migrants.

This December marks two years since UN Member States adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Since then, the United Nations Network on Migration, charged with coordinating United Nations system-wide support to implement the Compact, has established the Migration Multi-Partner Trust Fund, created a knowledge platform and connection hub, and set up regional and national networks. Currently, the Network supports the first round of regional reviews of the Compact, in close cooperation with the regional economic commissions. UN DESA is a member of the Network’s Executive Committee.

The report of the Secretary-General on international migration and development, prepared for the 75th session of the General Assembly, presents an overview of the latest activities by the United Nations system to assist countries in integrating migration considerations into national development plans. The report also assesses progress in measuring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets related to migration.

On 1 December, the Secretary-General will launch the first biennial report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Call-in details to join the event can be found here.

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