Migration sounding alarm bells in the West

Published: Sunday 15 August 1993

-- WESTERN nations are worried about increasing international migration. Says a 1992 document of Western nations, "Migration is now seen as a priority issue equal in political weight to other major global challenges such as the environment, population growth and economic imbalances between regions."

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in its The State of World Population 1993 report, points out there are about 100 million international migrants of all kinds -- about 2 per cent of the world's population. Of the 13 million "foreign residents" in European Community countries in 1990, about 4 million came from north Africa, Turkey and Yugoslavia. South Asia has been a major source of migrants to oil-producing countries. In the past two years, large numbers from the Indian subcontinent have migrated to Japan and South Korea.

Over the next 20 years, the Southern labour force will increase by 732 million, which is more than the North's entire 1990 labour force of 686 million.

International migration is a much smaller phenomenon than rural-urban migration within nations, for which most Third World governments are ill-prepared. Environmental degradation is becoming a cause of population movements. "Of the estimated 1 billion poor people in developing regions, some 450 million live in low-potential agricultural areas. A similar number live in areas susceptible to soil erosion, floods and other environmental hazards. These 'critical zones' cannot sustain current inhabitants, let alone future additions," says the UNFPA report.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.