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Increasing Migration:TIME FOR CONCERTED ACTION, by Dhurjati Mukherjee,7 September 2009 Print E-mail

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New Delhi, 7 September 2009

Increasing Migration


By Dhurjati Mukherjee

Migration is one of the major problems being faced today, with millions of people leaving one place to another in search of a better living or opportunities. According to an ILO report, close to 86 million adults or half of all migrants and refugees worldwide are economically active or employed. However, the number of migrants crossing borders in search of employment and human security is expected to increase rapidly in the coming decades due to the failure of globalization to provide jobs and economic opportunities.

There can be no denying that migration has been one of the most complex policy challenges for Governments and the report has called upon member-States to consider the adoption of a comprehensive action programme designed “to improve the condition of migrant workers and promote more orderly forms of migration”.

Migration is driven by differences and imbalances among countries which have grown with globalization. While it may be beneficial to some, to others it could be a strain. In the case of developing countries, nearly four lakh scientists and engineers are working on research and development in the industrialized West, which benefits the latter.

Migrants provide huge flows of remittances, running into billions of dollars, to their countries annually or the second largest funding for developing countries, according to a World Bank data. But this ‘brain drain’ is a cause of concern for the Third World countries, some of which have been greatly affected. Jamaica and Ghana have more of their locally trained doctors outside the countries than inside them, says the report.

In recent years, more women have migrated on their own as their family’s primary income earner. In fact, women account for 49 per cent of the world’s migrants. On the other hand, the ILO has revealed that 15 per cent of migrants are in irregular status, a phenomenon not confined to developed countries. These types of migrants “face the gravest risks to their human rights and fundamental freedoms when they are recruited, transported and employed in defiance of the law”.

The problems of migrants and refugees the world over have been prevalent for some time now though recent figures of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) show a decline. Armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Angola, Algeria, Burundi, Guatemala, Lebanon, Myanmar, Iraq, Turkey, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Zaire etc. have created millions of refugees (which at one time was estimated at 23 million excluding the mass exodus from Afghanistan to Pakistan).

Out of this, half are children and adolescents who have been brutally uprooted and exposed to dangers and insecurity. As per UNCHR statistics, each day 5,000 children become refugees and one in every person in the world is a child or adolescent who has been forced to leave his or her home. However, recent reports reveal that millions of Afgans have returned home from Pakistan and Iran since 2001 while many people are returning to Iraq and Libya.

As per the 1951 UN Convention (the first international meet on the status of refugees), the term refugee is used to define any person who owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of particular social group or political opinion flees from a particular country to another (usually neighbouring) country to save his/her life. For children specially, their specific circumstances in life as that of a refugee, adds to their vulnerable status. These children suffer from deprivation, separation from loved ones and sometimes the loss of family and/or home. Many have struggled through extensive periods in refugee camps and resettlement colonies where, far too often, they have been subjected to harsh conditions.       

The influx of migrants or refugees from one country to another in South Asia has had grave dimensions in recent years. While the influx of refugees from Afghanistan to Pakistan at one time created problems for the latter, India has been facing a similar situation with a continuing flow of migrants from Bangladesh. While a whole range of push and pull factors – religious, political and economic – has been responsible for the unmitigated influx from Bangladesh, the State Governments of West Bengal and Assam have exacerbated the problem by indirectly promoting immigration as part of their cynical strategy to augment minority vote-banks. The problem has assumed serious dimensions and warning against illegal immigration and cross-border terrorism, whenever India decides, has gone unheeded, with the he ruling clique in Dhaka blatantly ignoring it.  

According to sources, there are around 20 million infiltrators. But in the 16 years between 1985 and 2001 only around 9000 could be identified and very few among them deported. The regular influx, which is still continuing, has put a severe strain on the economy of these two States. Apart from the influx from Bangladesh, India is faced with people coming from its western frontiers, Pakistan. Most of these migrants come to preach Islamic fundamentalism and jihad against India. Though authorities claim that cross-border infiltration has come down in recent times, the influx has not stopped completely.

However, India needs to worry about a new form of migration in recent times i.e. to preach religious fundamentalism and align with anti-national forces. This has clearly posed a threat to national sovereignty and upset the socio-economic and cultural balance of the country. Much more needs to be done worldwide to stop countries from sponsoring such activities. It needs to be noted that lack of proper education and understanding of religious and social values have forced a section of people to abandon normal life and fall into the trap of certain perverted fundamentalists with narrow sectarian considerations. 

All forms of illegal migration have to stop and international efforts must be taken in this direction. Apart from the UNCHR, regional forums like SAARC and ASEAN would need to play a crucial role in tackling and curbing illegal migration and controlling refugee influx. Moreover, the countries themselves would have to take better care of its citizens, specially the children, so that they do not cross borders. In a world where the Convention of the Rights of the Child has been ratified by nearly every nation, children must be cared for and prevented from leaving the country.

Clearly, it is necessary that countries, directly or indirectly, aiding or abetting migration should be brought to book. An international strategy may have to be evolved in this regard to put an end to all forms of illegal migration. India along with other Third World countries such as Brazil, South Africa and China should take the lead and if required seek help and support of the US, the UK and Russia. ---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)






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