Do not turn hope into despair for migrants - GulfToday

Do not turn hope into despair for migrants

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The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Migrants are humans too. Fleeing poverty, conflict and persecution, they risk their lives looking for safer shores. Many of them have lost their lives while doing so, but the world does not seem to bother. That marks a blot on collective human conscience.

New data from the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has now indicated that the growing number of international migrants has now reached as much as 272 million, outpacing even the growth rate of the world’s population.

The figures reflect a jump from 2010, when the global number was at 221 million, and currently international migrants – defined as anyone who changes their “country of usual residence” – make up 3.5 per cent of the global population, compared to 2.8 per cent in the year 2000.

Europe hosts the largest number of international migrants, at 82 million; followed by North America, at 59 million; with 51 million in the United States alone — the largest number in a single nation.

North Africa and Western Asia host around 49 million migrants, and along with sub-Saharan Africa, are seeing the most significant influx in foreign populations.

With forced displacements continuing to increase, refugees and asylum seekers account for close to a quarter of global increases, which have risen by 13 million in number from 2010 to 2017.

The share of international migrants in the total population varies considerably across regions, as per the report, where foreign-born individuals comprise 21 per cent of the population of the Oceana region (Australia and New Zealand included), and 16 per cent of all people in Northern America.

The data is critical for understanding the important role of migrants and migration in the development of both countries of origin and destination, as UN official Llu Zhenmin points out.

Interesting facts have emerged on trends in migration into Europe. The European Union’s asylum office says the number of people seeking international protection in 30 European countries rose by a monthly 26% in July.

According to EASO, some 62,900 people applied for asylum during the month, taking the total number of asylum applications this year to about 400,500.

The number is higher than the same period last year but still much lower than the levels recorded in 2015-2016, when well over 1 million migrants entered Europe, most of them fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq.

Those arrivals sparked one of the EU’s biggest crises as countries bickered over who should take responsibility for the migrants and whether other members were obliged to help.

Migration has been a key issue for leaders including US President Donald Trump, Matteo Salvini in Italy and Marine le Pen in France, with many countries seeing a sharp shift to the right partly blamed on anti-immigrant sentiment.

Migration is a positive global phenomenon. It powers economic growth, reduces inequalities and connects diverse societies.

Just on Wednesday, stricken migrants attempting the perilous Mediterranean crossing pleaded for help, according to a rescue hotline that said one women on board might be having a miscarriage.

The 45 migrants sent an SOS signal to Alarm Phone, a volunteer-run Mediterranean rescue hotline, saying the wooden boat they were in had run into difficulty after two days at sea.

Shutting doors on migrants seeking help is a cruel act.

Collective and effective global measures to tackle the root causes of displacements are essential. Fair migration laws will benefit all and that’s what the international community should strive for.