Let’s be transparent about refugee and IDP statistics

By Justin Schon, Postdoctoral Associate, University of Florida

refugeesIn March 2018, the Expert Group on Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Statistics (ERGIS) released detailed reports on the status of refugee and IDP statistics and challenges in compiling these statistics. The reports made many valuable recommendations for how to increase the quality and quantity of migration data, but several recent developments highlight the need to also be more transparent about the types of uncertainty that exist in our measurements.

Uganda announced in October that a recent census had revealed that it currently hosts 1.1 million refugees, not 1.4 million as had previously been believed. IOM data on displacement from Mosul in Iraq during the 2016-2017 military offensive to retake the city from ISIS forces show a sudden jump in the estimate of IDPs due to a counting adjustment. Fabrice Balanche notes that UNOCHA decreased its estimate of Syrian IDPs from 7.5 million to 6.5 million during the fall of 2015, simply due to blatant overestimates that it knew were being provided.

Uncertain estimates even exist in refugee camps, where there are large numbers of humanitarian personnel. Officials in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp have significantly revised its estimated population multiple times after new counts. For example, the REACH initiative conducted a camp census from December 30, 2014 through January 18, 2015, and counted 7 954 fewer people in the camp than during the June 2014 count. On July 10, 2018, UNHCR deactivated nearly 11 000 camp registrations due either because they were absent from the camp, they were bailed out, they had registered elsewhere in an urban location, or they had returned to their country of origin. Continue reading

Understanding South-South migration

By Jason Gagnon, PGD1 coordinator, OECD Development Centre

Uganda-bus-station-PGD.jpg

Migration is the talk of the moment. Last week, I participated in the 11th GFMD2 Summit and the Intergovernmental Conference on the GCM3, where experts debated migration’s place in today’s global context. The outcome: 163 member countries of the United Nations pledged their support for a ground breaking document establishing migration – and migrants – as a vehicle for good.

Amongst the many debates, much talk was on South-South migration (SSM) and on the future particularly of Africa in this regard. But why this focus? Most studies on SSM fail to clarify what is different about SSM and why we should pay attention to it. Arguments are good for why SSM may be similar or different to what we’ve come to expect from previously studied migration corridors. But there are also many misconceptions on SSM – particularly in Africa. So what do we know?

Most of this misconceived perception lies in how we measure stocks, which currently tells us that more migrants born in the South live elsewhere in the South (than in the North): 53% to be exact in Africa. And the numbers are indeed much higher when we dig more locally: 71% in sub-Saharan Africa. Dig down deeper and the rate increases even more: up to 79% in Middle Africa.

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Gender and Skilled Immigration: Challenges and Recommendations

By Dr Anna Boucher, University of Sydney

woman-looking-forwardWith population ageing occurring in all advanced industrial nations, immigration policy is one key way to augment the skill base of domestic labour forces. Though the economic benefit of skilled immigration for receiving states has been a central policy focus globally, the equity considerations of such policies have attracted less attention. Yet, in the global race for human capital, gender equality matters.

Research demonstrates that while women comprise an equal proportion of migrant stock globally, they are underrepresented within skilled immigration flows (Brücker et al 2013 and Piper and Yamanaka 2008). This is particularly true of women from key developing countries in the global South (i.e. Sharma 2006: 129). These data stand despite the increasing educational achievements of women globally, which suggests that governments utilise factors other than educational status to assess “skill” within selection criteria (Brücker et al 2013). As such, labour migration is segmented by both country of origin and by gender. Considering these factors is important for understanding intersectional equality as gender discrimination can operate alongside other forms of disadvantage.

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Is migration good for development? Wrong question!

By David Khoudour, Head of the Migration and Skills Unit, OECD Development Centre

This summer’s conference in Addis Ababa acknowledged migration’s positive contribution to development. The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now take the next step of announcing migration-related targets. The SDGs recognise the need to protect the rights of migrant workers, especially women migrants, adopt well-managed migration policies and reduce remittance fees. However, international migration remains a very sensitive issue for most countries, as the current refugee crisis reveals. Such apparent schizophrenia between the international development agenda and the national policy one raises one important question: Can migration be good for development in countries migrants leave behind? Continue reading

Don’t just pay lip service to migrants’ contributions – back them with policies

By David Khoudour, Head of the migration and skills unit at the OECD Development Centre

The new development goals recognise migrants’ huge economic contributions in remittances and taxes, but we need flexible migration policies that support them.
The international community no longer considers migration a threat. This, at least, is what an optimistic observer could infer from the final document adopted at the conference on financing for development in Addis Ababa this month. The accord signed at the end of the meeting – the Addis Ababa action agenda – acknowledges the positive contribution of migrants to the development of countries of origin, transit and destination. Continue reading