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Despite COVID Restrictions, World Saw Increased Displacement

Ukraine War, Conflict, Climate Adds More to Displacement

Even when the world was halted due to COVID 19 travel restrictions, it saw a dramatic increase in internal displacement due to disasters, conflict and violence, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that launched its flagship World Migration Report 2022.

The report, the eleventh in IOM’s World Migration Report series, draws upon the latest data from around the world to explain key migration trends as well as issues that are emerging on the migration policy horizon. IOM’s Director General António Vitorino was of the opinion that the world was witnessing a paradox never seen before in human history. “While billions of people have been effectively grounded by COVID-19, tens of millions of others have been displaced within their own countries,” he said.


Europe and Asia hosted about 87 and 86 million international migrants, respectively, which comprised 61 per cent of the global international migrant stock. North America followed with almost 59 million international migrants in 2020 or 21 percent of the global migrant stock. Africa came next at 9 per cent, Latin America and the Caribbean at 5 per cent, and Oceania at 3 percent. With respect to size of the population in each region, international migrants in 2020 were highest in Oceania, North America and Europe, where migrant representation was 22 per cent, 16 per cent and 12 per cent of the total population.

Asia and Africa (1.8 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively) and Latin America and the Caribbean (2.3 per cent) had a relatively small share of migrants or displacement. However, Asia experienced the most remarkable growth from 2000 to 2020, at 74 per cent (around 37 million people). Europe experienced the second-largest growth during this period, with an increase of 30 million international migrants, followed by an increase of 18 million international migrants in North America and 10 million in Africa.

The report finds internal migration as more evident than people migrating across borders. In some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, over 88 per cent of the population are international migrants (displacement).


The World Migration Report said that available data reflected an overall increase in remittances in recent decades, from 126 billion dollars in 2000 to 702 billion dollars in 2020. “Despite predictions of a large decline in international remittances due to COVID-19, 2020 saw only a slight drop (2.4 per cent) from the 2019 global total,” it added. The UN agency said that India, China, Mexico, the Philippines and Egypt in 2020 were the top five remittance recipient countries. India and China were above all countries with total inward remittances exceeding 83 billion dollars and 59 billion dollars, respectively. The United States has consistently been the top remittance-sending country with a total outflow of 68 billion dollars in 2020, followed by the United Arab Emirates (43.2 billion dollars), Saudi Arabia (34.6 billion dollars), Switzerland (27.96 billion dollars) and Germany (22 billion dollars).


Overall, COVID-19 travel restriction measures – both internal and international – were quickly put in place by majority of countries around the world, with the peak occurring in late March to early April 2020. Some countries stopped all entry of foreign citizens, some banned citizens of specific countries, while even further, some countries completely closed borders to stop departure and entry of all people, including their own citizens. Some countries even introduced quarantine measures.




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