The global recession presents an opportunity to come up with a new deal for the world's migrant workers, a UN report suggested Monday.
The 2009 Human Development Report said "the recession should be seized as an opportunity to institute a new deal for migrants — one that that will benefit workers at home and abroad while guarding against a protectionist backlash."
Some destination countries are trying to turn back migrants amid growing unemployment, but the report calls for governments to lower barriers to movement and improve policies towards those who move.Mexican workers in Manitoba: The UN says remittances from foreign workers back to their home countries totaled $305 billion US in 2008. (CBC)
"With recovery, many of the same underlying trends that have been driving movement during the past half-century will resurface," lead author Jeni Klugman said, "attracting more people to move." Nearly one billion — or one out of seven people on the planet — are migrants.
Almost three quarters of that number are people who move within their own country to get work. The report found less than 30 per cent of migrants move from developing to developed countries.
The report also found those from the poorest countries, on average, experienced a 15-fold increase in income, a doubling of school enrolment rates and a 16-fold reduction in child mortality after moving to a developed country.
Those benefits come at high cost, though. It costs a lot to move to take a job somewhere else, and the move involves separation from family. "Some women," the report said, "end up in trafficking networks, lose significant freedoms and suffer physical danger."
The report comes on the heels of another UN study released last month that said remittances from migrants back to their countries of origin grew 8.8 per cent last year, despite the economic downturn. The study by UN Trade and Development predicted remittances will continue to be a bigger factor in foreign exchange in developing countries than official development assistance, despite the economic downturn.
Remittances totaled $305 billion US in 2008, despite a sharp contraction in construction and service sectors in countries that received large foreign worker populations.
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