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UN Migration report marks ''sea change'' in attitudes

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:59 pm    Post subject: UN Migration report marks ''sea change'' in attitudes Reply with quote

The report is here:

NEW YORK, 8 June (IRIN) - Marking the release of a new United Nations report on the impact of migration patterns on development, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday called for a standing forum to encourage governments to take an integrated approach to the migration issue.

Annan told the General Assembly that migrants could be highly beneficial for their countries of origin and of destination. He said the report clearly showed that the world was "in the midst of a new migration era, and that international migration today [was] indeed a global phenomenon."

The report, which followed an independent Global Commission on International Migration in 2005, was produced to help inform the debate ahead of a high-level dialogue on migration at the General Assembly in September.

Hani Zlotnik, director of the UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the report reflected a major shift in how migrants were perceived by many governments.

"Governments have started to focus on the beneficial aspects of migration. There has been a sea change in how they approach migration, as compared to 10 or 20 years ago. Previously, migration was seen as a negative thing, but in the last 15 years countries have realised that migrants are an asset, and they have taken steps to facilitate migration," said Zlotnik.

"The message by these governments is 'we value you and want to remain linked to you'," she said. The rise in overseas consulates and measures allowing for proxy voting and dual nationality are evidence that governments are now trying to facilitate the migration process.

The report found that migration had become a major feature of international life, with more than 191 million people living outside their home countries in 2005, remitting an estimated US $232 billion back home, more than double the estimate a decade earlier.

A UN official involved with the report told journalists on Tuesday that over the course of history there had always been concerns about migration. Addressing specific movements "such as the recent influx of migrants into Spain from Northern Africa, or into the United States from Mexico" was a sovereign issue, he said. "But with this report, we can contribute a clear understanding of what the positive benefits of migration are, to help inform the debate."

For example, a 'brain drain' of skilled migrants from a developing country had been often perceived as negative, because it took qualified people out, he said. In fact, recent research shows that this very process can stimulate education, as, for example, younger generations see older counterparts going overseas for work, remitting funds back and in some instances returning to the country with assets and resources. So what was perceived as a net loss to the country, can often be a longterm net gain, he said.

There was a downside to migration, however. Annan cited the "all too familiar abuses" to which many migrants were subjected, such as falling prey to traffickers, exploitation and xenophobic reactions by a resident population.

Zlotnik said a key question was whether migration was actually leading to big benefits in terms of development. "The report has identified some positive aspects, and some negative, too. We don't pretend that the current world of migration is perfect - it's not. But this shift in perception that migration is not all bad is an important one," she said.

From irin:
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