Besides bringing discrimination and threats of job losses, the global
crisis has also restricted the movement of migrant workers the world
over, a United Nations official said.
This has reduced migrant workers’ opportunities, causing a slowdown in remittance flows, said Carlos Lopes, executive director of the UN Institute for Training and Research.
“Many countries which depend upon these flows will be adversely affected not only economically, but also socially," Lopes said at the opening of the 3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Greece on Thursday.
The 2nd GFMD was held in Manila in October last year.
Lopes, who also chairs the Global Migration Group, said that while remittance was relatively resilient, the World Bank forecasts that flows to all developing regions will decline between seven and ten percent in 2009.
“Too often this will negatively affect development outcomes, for example in the area of children’s and especially girls’ education and health," he added.
But Filipino economists project that the remittances from more than 8.7 million Filipinos living and working abroad would climb to $17 billion despite the crisis.
From January to July this year, remittances have risen 3.8 percent to nearly $10 billion, boosting consumption spending, which comprise 70 to 80 percent of the economy.
Lopes also said that many states have adopted restrictive requirements for foreigners obtaining entry, legal residence, and work permits.
“Additional restrictions can also reinforce the impression that migration is a questionable, criminal phenomenon, thereby contributing to anti-migrant, xenophobic reactions in destination countries," he said.
From October 2008 to March 2009 the Labor department noted that some 60,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) returned home, jobless.
Earlier, Emmanuel Leyco, a professor at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), said the US recession would create a domino effect all over the globe and cause millions of OFWs to lose their jobs.
“In a global recession, immigrants are the first to go," Leyco told GMANews.TV.
Leyco said newly-deployed OFWs would be the hardest-hit by an economic meltdown because most businesses implement a “last in, first out" policy in their human resources management.
He said foreign workers are also often seen as low-priority in employment retention.
“When factories or offices are closing (not even) seniority (counts)," he said.
Lopes echoed this observation in his opening remarks at the GFMD, adding that the continued layoffs of migrant workers slow down the process of recovery.
“From a development perspective, such measures risk slowing down the resumption of growth," he said.
The UN official said that States must be vigilant against xenophobic sentiments and discriminatory practices prompted by the economic crisis.
The recently released 2009 UN Human Development Report, entitled Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development, called for wide-ranging reforms to maximize the gains from migration and to protect the rights of migrants – now estimated to be one out of every seven persons in the world, Lopes added. - GMANews.TV
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