Record number of migrants in the world, failure of political responses
These migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were intercepted by Tunisian authorities on their way to Italy on October 4, 2022.
The number of migrants in the world has never been so high. The UNHCR puts them at more than 100 million, between refugees, internally displaced people, irregular migrants and asylum seekers.
The answers are far from certain, however. adapted, estimates the Mixed Migration Center (MMC) in its report on the year 2022.
On the contrary, the NGO says it observes an increase in deaths and disappearances along the migratory routes, the commodification of refugees and migrants, as well as a greater number of violent refoulements and expulsions.
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You see more and more conflict, more and more political instability, more and more civil wars, which causes displacement, says Martin Hofmann, senior adviser at the International Center for Migration Policy Development , in Vienna. It's not just in Europe, there is a global trend.
Added to this is the impact of climate change and extreme weather events, which are now the first global displacement factor.
In 2021, the last year compiled, there were nearly 24 million internal displacements due to natural disasters (mainly storms and floods) against 14 million due to conflicts. This year, the chronic drought in the Horn of Africa, which affects 20 million people, and the floods in Pakistan, which forced 33 million others to temporarily flee their homes, are part of this trend.< /p>
A third of Pakistan suffered catastrophic floods that killed more than 1,500 people.
In 2022, the invasion of Ukraine caused one of the largest and most sudden displacements of people since World War II. During the first days of the war, more than 200,000 people crossed the borders of neighboring countries daily. To date, nearly 8 million have fled Ukraine. In addition, 6.3 million Ukrainians have had to leave their homes and move within the country.< /p>
The number of displacements caused by the invasion of Ukraine is greater than that caused by the war in Syria in 2015, or the number of Venezuelans who left their country.
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Furthermore, conflict and violence continue to be a major source of displacement in several African countries, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Ethiopia. In many cases, these conflicts are caused by environmental stress and natural disasters, which lead to struggles over resources.
Africa is where the greatest number of persons falling within the competence of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers, etc.). They are 38.2 million, or 40% of the world total.
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The Americas follow, with 18% of globally displaced people, almost a quarter of whom are Venezuelans.
Because of the pandemic, conditions deteriorated in the countries where they had taken refuge. As a result, increasing numbers of Venezuelans are heading north. Just in October, 22,000 of them were intercepted at the border of Mexico and the United States.
On the southern borders of Europe, in Greece, Italy or Cyprus, tens of thousands of irregular migrants wait for months in unsanitary camps for their file to be finally processed by immigration authorities overwhelmed and in no hurry to accepting them on their territory.
This is part of a normalization of extremes that the Mixed Migration Center denounces: policies, actions and attitudes that were considered unacceptable a few years ago are increasingly standardized and integrated.
Thus, in several countries, refugees and migrants, including children, are separated, isolated and detained. In Mexico, 206,885 people were detained between January and July 2022. In the United States, where authorities carried out a record number of interceptions at the border with Mexico, 30,000 migrants were detained at the end of November. In Canada, approximately 8,000 migrants are imprisoned each year.
At least 23 people have died after trying to force their way into the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Moroccan territory. Following the incident, migrants demonstrated in Rabat on June 28, 2022.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of migrant deaths are recorded annually. Whether in the desert on the border of the United States and Mexico, in the Darien jungle, between Colombia and Panama, or trying to scale the fence that separates Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Melilla.
Others drown trying to cross the Mediterranean or the English Channel. Rescue operations at sea carried out by NGOs are increasingly coming up against obstacles, such as harassment of personnel and refusals to allow ships that have rescued migrants to disembark their passengers.
“There is a lack of humanity in the management of certain categories of human beings which is truly terrifying.
— Roberto Forin, Deputy Director of the Mixed Migration Centre, Geneva
In 2022, migrants faced an increasingly hostile environment. In countries like Lebanon and Turkey, which have taken in millions of Syrian refugees, inflation is making life harder for migrants, who have been the target of an increasing number of violent attacks there. The same is true in Latin America, where Venezuelan refugees have to deal with the growing hostility of part of the population.
Migration flows are not about to stop, however. opposite. Solutions must therefore be found to meet the challenges they represent, believes the Mixed Migration Centre.
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The treatment reserved for Ukrainians who fled the Russian invasion demonstrates that it is possible to do things differently. The Ukrainians were welcomed with open arms by several European countries which immediately granted them temporary protection, granting them residence permits as well as guaranteeing them access to education and the labor market.
It'sa population movement on a scale not seen since the Second World War, Roberto Forin points out, but it's not x27;did not cause a seizure; it generated a coordinated response and political consensus at European level. The response went beyond the crisis and focused on the solutions.
This welcome contrasts with the treatment received by asylum seekers from other parts of the world, who are tried to be prevented by all means from setting foot in Europe.
According to UNHCR data, 149,446 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe by Mediterranean sea and land routes in 2022.
“We manage to respond to 8 million Ukrainians, but we cannot manage to respond to 150,000 people who arrive from elsewhere… It does not fit.
—Roberto Forin, Deputy Director of the Mixed Migration Center
This corresponds to a phenomenon that has developed over the years: the problematization of migration, says Martin Hofmann of the International Center for Migration Policy Development. Even political parties or politicians who are more left-wing or progressive have accepted this idea that migration in itself is problematic, he adds. It seems to be paying off for them.
“All countries in the North share a certain skepticism towards immigration and consider it primarily as a challenge.
— Martin Hofmann, senior adviser at the International Center for Migration Policy Development
Yet, he believes, there are other ways to look at it the issue of migration, especially in the context of an aging population and labor shortages. Two situations that will worsen in Western societies over the coming decades.
According to a study by the Center for Global Development, by 2050, countries rich will have to fill a gap of 202 million workers to maintain the current ratio between workers and dependents. Africa will have 1.3 billion people of working age.