Forced migration

A disaster the world prefers to forget

Published: Tuesday 30 September 2003

-- Humanitarian aid tends to favour high-profile emergencies at the expense of less visible long-term suffering. Forced migration is one such invisible disaster

Forced migrants could be refugees, internally displaced persons, environmental migrants, development-induced migrants, human traffickers, and economic migrants

According to the United Nations, over 175 million people now live outside their countries of birth. These 'international migrants' have steadily grown from 75 million in 1965, to 105 million by 1985, 120 million by 1990 and now, 175 million

Natural disasters/environmental degradation has created 25 million environmental migrants. They are expected to grow because of desertification and extreme climatic conditions

Post 9/11, movement of migrants is being restricted. In the us, foreign nationals from 25 designated countries (mainly Islamic) are required to register with immigration authorities

Migrants remit about us $80 billion per year to developing countries, which is more than the us $50-55 billion of official development assistance that flows from rich to poor countries every year

The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families has failed due to non-ratification by significant blocs, and nations (the US, the EU, India)

Terrorism and trafficking are big threats. Security must not, however, be used as an excuse to prevent forced migrants from reaching safety.

Source: Jonathan Walter (ed) 2003, World Disaster Report 2003, Focus on ethics in aid, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Switzerland.

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