Although COVID-19 has disrupted all forms of human mobility, including the closing of borders, and the halting of travel worldwide, according to the UN International Migration 2020 Highlights, growth in
Although COVID-19 has disrupted all forms of human mobility, including the closing of borders, and the halting of travel worldwide, according to the UN International Migration 2020 Highlights, growth in the number of international migrants has been robust over the last two decades, reaching 281 million people living outside their country of origin in 2020, up from 173 million in 2000 and 221 million in 2010. According to the IOM, before the COVID-19 pandemic, international migrants, who made up 3.5 percent of the world’s population in 2019, contributed nearly 10 per cent of global GDP (roughly $ 6.7 trillion to global GDP). Moreover, according to the UNHCR, the persistence of extreme poverty in large areas of the world, the impacts of climate change, the continuation of internal conflicts, regional wars, and religious or sectarian inspired violence have forcibly displaced a record number of over 82.4 million people worldwide. At the same time, receiving and transit states keep closing their borders, forcing economic migrants and refugees to look for new routes and ways in search of a better life or a safe haven. Governments are struggling to balance their immigration and asylum policies between their obligations to uphold the fundamental human rights of migrants and the growing domestic pressures of xenophobic sentiments and nativist attitudes, including the increase in “white supremacist”, “far-right” or “extreme right-wing” groups around the world.
One thing is certain: international migrations will continue to increase and reshape the world as we know it. The way governments and societies decide to deal with the causes of migrations and their social, economic and political impacts will open new debates on redefining the existing international human rights instruments to protect the most vulnerable of our humanity.
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