Filipino Migrant Domestic Workers An Overview Top by jennyyingdi

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									Filipino Migrant Domestic
Workers: An Overview

Top 10 occupational groups (by sex)
Categories                   Percentage                   % Women
Household & related          29.7                         98
Factory                      14                           29
Construction                 14                           7
Building caretakers          5.8                          83
Hotel & restaurant work      5.1                          60
Caregivers                   4.7                          94
Medical                      4                            85
Engineer                     3.6                          4
Dressmakers, tailors         2.5                          95
OPAs                         2.5                          90

2006 Total Deployment: 1, 062, 567 (7.5% from 2005)

Policy reforms in recruiting and deploying domestic workers
Top 10 destinations (2006)
Destinations                   % change, ‘05-’06 new      % change to total, ‘05-’06
KSA                          15                           28.4
UAE                          20.9                         12.6
HK                           -1.8                         12.3
Kuwait                       18.9                         6.1
Qatar                        45.7                         5.8
Taiwan                       -16.5                        5.0
Singapore                    0.8                          3.6
Italy                        19.5                         3.2
UK                           0                            2.1
South Korea                  40.2                         1.8

Origin of remittances (2005-2006)
Origin                       2005 (US$)                   2006 (US$)
Asia                         1,172,373                    1, 496, 120
Middle East                 1,417,491                1,909,208
Europe                      1,433,904                2,061,067
Americas                    6,605,231                7,198,212
Trust Territories           -                        -
Africa                      4,546                    10,272
Oceania                     54,573                   85,610
Others                      887                      819
Land based total            9,019,647                10,812,018
Sea based total             1,669,358                1,949,290
Total                       10,689,005               12,761,308

Top 10 sources of remittances (2005-2006 in US$)
Country of origin            2005 (US$)              2006 (US$)
USA                         6,2424,848               6,526,429
KSA                         949,372                  1,117,915
Canada                      117,061                  590,627
Italy                       430,071                  574,662
UK                          300,725                  561,670
Japan                       356,659                  453,398
UAE                         257,429                  427,246
HK                          338,895                  413,723
Singapore                   240,149                  285,126
Taiwan                      86,551                   168,998

Total domestic workers from 1992- 2006 (new hires)

1992: 57,903
1993: 71,079
1994: 71,376
1995: 63,463
1996: 61,883
1997: 47,534
1998: 47,049
1999: 53,391
2000: 68,270
2001: 71,378
2002: 63,434
2003: 45,950
2004: 62,568
2005: 82,467
2006: 91,412

Top 10 destinations of Filipino domestic workers, new hires, 2005 (2006)

1. Kuwait: 19,707 (19,097)
2. Hong Kong: 17, 514 (19,532)
3. Lebanon: 11,735 (7,710)
4. KSA: 9,227 (11,898)
5. UAE: 9,113 (11,844)
6, Qatar: 4,998 (6,524)
7. Jordan: 2,748 (4,359)
8. Singapore: 2,429 (3,162)
9. Oman: 1,419 (2,068)
10. Cyprus: 982 (1,178)

Monthly Salary
Kuwait: 150-200 US$
Hong Kong: 3,400 HK$
Lebanon: 150-200 US$
Saudi Arabia: 150-200 US$
UAE: 200 US$
Qatar: 200 US$
Jordan: 150-200 US$
Singapore: 350 S$
Oman: 200-300 US$
Cyprus: 325 US$
Taiwan: 185840 NT$

Policy reforms in recruiting and deploying domestic workers.
Objectives of the reforms:
To ensure that only qualified, adequately protected and properly documented
household service workers are deployed to prequalified foreign placement agencies
and employers

1. Pre-qualification of foreign placement agencies
The Philippine Overseas Labour offices (POLO) are to issue a certificate, to address
the following factors:
 Attendance at an orientation seminar on Philippine’s culture, policies and their
 Sufficient holding and coordinating for domestic helpers.
 Authorized personnel to attend to the employment and welfare of the workers.

Oath of the undertaking of foreign workers:

 Worker treated humanely.
• Worker allowed to freely communicate with family.
• Upon request, FPA shall report on the whereabouts/condition of Highly Skilled
Workers (HSW).
• When required, FPA shall present the HSW to the PE.
• Worker custody of passport.
• PE allowed visitation of the holding facility and workers.
• FPA shall act and assist PE in resolving problems.

2. Verification of additional Job Orders for HSW and low/semiskilled female workers
and their individual employment contracts

General policies:
• No contracts shall be verified unless the names and signatures of the worker, the
employer, the Philippine and foreign agency are indicated in the contract.
• POLOS require the individual employers to personally appear for an interview and
to affix his signature in the contract and Undertaking.

Requirements for verification of individual EC shall include:
• Information sheet of the employer
• Police clearance or equivalent document of the employer.
• Undertaking by the employer.
- Confirm with PE the arrival of the worker in the worksite
- Passport custody by the worker
- Present the worker to embassy when required
- Provide separate sleeping room for worker
- Continuous 8 hour rest period
 Undertaking by the employer
- Worker not to work in other residence nor for any other jobs.
- Employer present the HSW to PE whenever required.
- The employer shall appear before the PE whenever required.

3. Pre-qualification of the Applicant HSW
• Possession of NC2 Certificate issued byTESDA
• Possession of an OWWA certificate of attendance or competency in a country-
specific language and culture orientation.

4. Minimum age requirement of 25 years old
5. Increase in Salary
• Increase to US$400 as the minimum monthly salary.

6. Exemption from the POEA placement fee policy
• No placement fee in any form including salary deduction.

7. No License Issuance for Applicants with HSWs as New Market
• Moratorium in the issuance of new POEA license for applicants using DH as its new

Also put in place is the POEA online verification system, where certificates and
contracts are verified.

Other Proposals:
• Inclusion of domestic work in the national labour and social legislation
• Bilateral agreements on terms and conditions governing the recruitment, selection
and hiring of Filipino workers
• Adoption of jointly approved Standard Employment Contract.
• Sharing of Data base
• Adoption of the alternative “corporate servicing scheme” or live-out arrangement for

Issues & Concerns on the New Policies
• General
– Process: exclusion of stakeholders
– Enforcemen & Enforcement Mechanism; Agency Coordination/ Cooperation
– Country Specificities
• Specific
– Pre-qualification for Employers & Applicant DW
– Minimum Age
– Minimum Entry Level Salary of US$400
– Exemption from Placement Fee

Initial Reactions/ Feedbacks
• GCC Committee may stop the Deployment of FDW pending clarification with
Philippine Government
• Recruiters continue to deploy FDW using other job category (e.g. dressmaker, etc)
• Recruiters deploy using tourist visas
• MOU between RPUAE
• Need to Assess implementation of New Policies
India’s Skilled Migration
Brief Picture:
An estimated 20–25 million stock of Indian migrants is recorded world–wide.
This is a function of flows of unskilled, semi–skilled and skilled workers from
India over last two centuries

SKILLED MIGRATION: Beginning in 1950s, and picking up as brain drain
(Defined as when large numbers of educated and very skilled people leave
their own country to live and work in another one where pay and conditions
are better, Cambridge Dictionary)
in 1960s, skilled migration to developed countries of the North became more
prominent with the recent 21st–century exodus of the IT workers.

UNSKILLED/SEMI-SKILLED MIGRATION: Beginning with the oil–boom of
the 1970s,
large numbers of unskilled and semi–skilled Indian labor have migrated to
Gulf countries in west Asia.

    According to a 1979 Indian Ministry of External Affairs estimate the
     number of persons of Indian extraction residing abroad was 10.7

    Early migrants who had formed the basis of this so–called Indian
     diaspora formation mainly involved (cheap) manual workers
     (SKILLED/SEMI-SKILLED MIGRATION) leaving India in large
     numbers to meet the enormous quantitative demand for indentured
     labor that arose in the nineteenth century plantations and mines in the
     colonies, immediately after the British abolished slavery in 1834 – in
     the Caribbean (Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad), the Pacific (Fiji), the Indian
     Ocean (Mauritius, South Africa, and East Africa), and south–east Asia
     (Malaysia, Singapore), as well as neighboring South Asian countries
     (Sri Lanka and Burma)

    Paved the way for (SKILLED MIGRATION) brain drain – the exodus of
     talent and skill, India’s cream of highly skilled professionals to the
     developed countries. These professionals comprised of doctors,
     engineers, scientists, teachers, architects, entrepreneurs, etc

    Beginning as a trickle in the 1950s, the skilled migration to the
     developed countries picked up in the post–mid–1960s, and became
     more prominent with the more recent migration of the IT workers, and
     nurses in the twenty–first century.

      However, these small–scale internal migrations within the sub–
       continent were replaced by large–scale external migration when the
       partition in 1947 created India and Pakistan.
 Immediately after the partition, about 5 million Hindus and Sikhs left
  Pakistan for India and about 6 million Muslims moved into Pakistan
  from India. As this politically–triggered exchange created very serious
  and long–term problems of refugee settlement and integration, the
  prospects of intra–south Asian migration to and from India gradually
  became more and more limited after independence

 Voluntary migration, attributed mainly to economic and social factors,
  although modest compared to that related to political cause, continues
  and seems to be on the rise. The principal flows have been the
             a) Immigration to Britain, which was a traditionally favored
                 for temporary migration and, later attracted permanent
                 settlers representing various social strata.
             b) The three traditional settlement countries, Australia,
                 Canada, and
                 the USA became more attractive destinations once their
                 highly selective immigration policies were modified.
                 These developed countries, later joined by the UK and
                 other EU countries attracted the highly skilled workers
                 from India.
             c) A new destination, that rapidly gained popularity, has
                 been the
                 Middle East. The oil–rich countries mainly attracted
                 semi–skilled and unskilled labor on a temporary
                 circulating basis. Some south–east countries like
                 Malaysia became such destination later on.

 In the developed countries today, the focus on the Indian skilled
  migration remains in the United States, with up to 80 per cent of Indian
  skilled migration to all developed countries

 In the US, which constituted a minuscule of less than 1 percent of
  global immigration from all countries during the 1950s and 1960s,
  crossed a mark of 7.4 per cent in 2004. Even in 2003, when security
  concerns in the post 9/11 phase had brought in a restrictive
  immigration regime in this country, Indian share amongst global
  immigrants thus continued to increase (from 6.7% in 2002 to 7.1% in
  2003). In the two top categories of skilled immigrants in 2001,
  professional and technical, and executive, administrative and
  managerial occupations, Indians occupied very high proportions of 23.8
  per cent and 11.1 per cent respectively. In 2003 and 2004, one in every
  four global immigrants with an occupation has been an Indian, 25% for
  2003, and 24.7% for 2004.

 The 1965 amendments to the US Immigration and Nationality Act
  remained the principal determinant of Indian skilled immigration into the
  US for one quarter of a century between 1968 and 1992.6 Within the
  overall kinship–emphasis in family–reunification clause of the 1965
     amendments, the new legislation gave priority to highly trained and
     educated professionals. As a result, urban, educated, and English
     speaking masses of Indian population became distinctly visible in the
     US, carrying a large share of India’s human capital to the U.S., and
     causing brain drain for India

   Almost a hundred thousand engineers, physicians, scientists,
    professors, teachers, and their dependents had entered the U.S. by

   The highly skilled Indians have migrated to the developed countries not
    only through the employment means; another stream of skilled
    migration has been taking place by means of academics.

   Data collated by the US Institute of International Education’s Open
    Doors 2005 survey revealed that in 2004–05 India retained its No. 1
    position in the US university enrolments (followed by China, Korea,
    Japan, Canada, and Taiwan) for the fourth year in a row. In 2005–06,
    the numbers of applications from Indian students have been reported
    to have registered a 23 per cent increase over the previous year

   The Indian immigrants’ average annual income in Canada is nearly 20
    per cent higher than the national average, and their educational levels
    are also higher

Indian Labor Migration to the gulf

   After oil was discovered in the Gulf region during the 1930s, the overall
    numbers were still small. Between 1948 and the early 1970s, these
    numbers gradually increased from about 1,400 to 40,000.

   When large scale development activities started following the 1973
    spurt in oil prices in the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), an
    upsurge in the flow of workers and laborers began from India to the
    Gulf. . India and Pakistan supplied most of such unskilled labor,
    registering almost 200 percent growth between 1970 and 1975. In
    1975, Indian expatriates constituted 39.1 percent

   A large majority of 70 per cent of the Indian migrants in the Gulf has
    comprised the semi–skilled and unskilled workers, the rest being
    white–collar workers and professionals

   The unskilled and semi–skilled workers have a high rate of turnover as
    their contracts are for short periods of employment and work, usually
    not more than two years at a time. Those completing their contracts
    must return home, although a large proportion of them manage to
   come back with new contracts which are not available before a gap of
   one year. This has facilitated the proliferation of recruitment and
   placement agencies

 An important aspect of Indian labor migration to the Gulf has been its
  lion’s share in the remittances (officially known as Private Transfer
  Payments in India’s Balance of Payments Account) sent home to India
  by the workers. Beginning in the mid–1970s, there was rapid increase
  in remittances11 coming from the developed countries, but as migrants
  to these countries were gradually joined by their kith and kin, these
  were gradually overtaken by larger proportions coming from the Gulf.
  Global remittances to India reached a level of US $2,083 million in
  1990–91, to US $8,112 million in 1994–95, US $11,875 million in
  1997–98, to US $ 12,290 million in 1999–2000, and eventually to
  21,700 million in 2004. In terms of share of GDP at market prices,
  these constituted 0.7 per cent in 1990–91, and 3.0 per cent in 1999–

 Remittances sent by expatriate Indians have supposedly contributed
  positively to the Indian economy. In the middle of 1991, India faced a
  serious balance of payments crisis. Foreign exchange reserves had
  fallen to a level hardly adequate to meet essential imports for just a few
  weeks. The Indian migrants in the developed countries withdrew their
  dollar deposits from Indian banks at an alarming rate. These problems
  warranted immediate action for India to avoid defaulting on its
  international obligations or a collapse of its economy for
  Binod Khadria

 The political perception of «brain drain» had suddenly given way to the
  perception of brain bank abroad. Through the 1990s, the gradual
  success and achievements of the Indian migrants in the US –
  particularly led by body shopping of the software professionals to the
  US from Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley, and working towards
  averting the looming global crisis of y2K – drew real attention of the
  developed countries in the West and the East alike. The paradigm shift
  in the perception about professional migrants leaving India, thus took
  place in phases – from the brain drain of the 1960s and 1970s to the
  «brain bank» of the 1980s and 1990s, and subsequently to brain gain
  in the twenty–first century. However, the IT bubble burst in the wake of
  the American recession and hordes of techies were sent back to India,
  having lost their H–1B visa contracts. This benefited the Indian
  economy when these talented and gifted ex-migrants were integrated
  back into the economy.
Migration is defined as a shift of people in location that is permanent or semi
permanent in nature (i.e. with a change in residence)
An overview of migration in India, its impacts and key issues

The sources of early migration flows were primarily agro-ecological, related to population
expansion to
new settlements or to conquests (e.g. Eaton, 1984).There is considerable information on
patterns of
migration during the British period.
They left for British, Dutch and French colonies to work in sugar
plantations and subsequently for the tea and rubber plantations of Southeast Asia (Tinker,
1974). Similar
demands for labour rose internally with the growth of tea, coffee and rubber plantations, coal
and, later, modern industry. The historical pattern of the flow of labourers persisted even after
In 2001, India’s population exceeded 1 billion.
Of the total workforce, 73.3% remained in rural areas, declining marginally from 77.7% in
and 79.3% in 1981; 58% remained dependent upon agriculture. The rural poor has gradually
concentrated in eastern India and rainfed parts of
central and western India, which continue to have
low-productivity agriculture.
Generally, India’s poor have meagre physical assets
and human capital and belong largely to socially
deprived groups such as scheduled castes (SC) and
tribes (ST). Women share an extraordinary burden of
deprivation within households. The poor rely on
different types of work to construct a livelihood;
wage labour and cultivation are the most important.
Earlier studies have shown that poor households
participate extensively in migration (Connell et al, 1976).
More recent studies have reconfirmed that migration is
a significant livelihood strategy for poor households in
several regions of India.

Existing structures for policy implementation
The Ministry of Labour and the Departments of Labour,
at state levels, are responsible for formulating and
implementing measures to protect migrant workers.
Certain existing labour laws aim to improve the
conditions of migrant workers and prevent their
exploitation. The important ones are: the Inter State
Migrant Workmen (Regulation and Conditions of
Service) Act, 1979; the Minimum Wages Act, 1948;
the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act,
1970; the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976; and the
Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation
of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996.
Concerns of migrant labourers are also the responsibility of the relevant
Social Sector Ministries (Health and Family Welfare,
Human Resource Development, Food and Consumer
Affairs, Urban Affairs, Social Justice). However, there
are no separate departments in these ministries dealing
exclusively with migrant labour. The Ministry of Home
Affairs has the responsibility for immigration.
India regulates external labour migration flows, for
which the 1983 Emigration Act provides the necessary
legal framework. The office of the Protector of Emigrants,
Ministry of Labour, is empowered by law to regulate
the deployment of Indian nationals seeking foreign
employment. The main objective of state intervention is
to ensure that nationals obtain legally valid employment
abroad under acceptable conditions. This is achieved
mainly by setting minimum employment standards and
verifying employment contracts; regulating recruitment
through licensing the agents; issuing emigration
clearances for certain categories of emigrants, especially
those considered less able to protect their own interests;
and handling public grievances related to violation of
employment contracts and recruitment abuses.
Two other ministries concerned with the emigration
of Indian workers are the Ministry of External Affairs
(MEA) and Ministry of Home Affairs. Indian diplomatic
missions abroad come under the MEA. They often have
a labour attaché posted to the mission, responsible for
monitoring and reporting on the conditions of Indian
nationals and liaising with host government authorities
on matters such as employment conditions, welfare
and repatriation of migrant labour
The Immigration Department under the Ministry of Home Affairs is
responsible for the control of exit of Indian nationals.
The Police Department under the Ministry of Home
Affairs is responsible for investigating complaints
lodged on recruitment abuses in India.

The two main secondary sources of data on population
mobility in India are the Census and the National
Sample Survey (NSS). These surveys may underestimate
some migration flows, such as temporary, seasonal
and circulatory migration, both due to empirical and
conceptual difficulties. Since such migration and
commuting is predominantly employment oriented,
the data underestimate the extent of labour mobility.
Furthermore, migration data relate to population
mobility and not worker mobility, although economic
theories of migration are primarily about worker
migration. It is not easy to disentangle these, firstly
because definitions of migrants used in both surveys
(change from birthplace and change in last usual place
of residence), are not employment related. Secondly,
migration surveys give only the main reason for
migration, and that only at the time of migration.
Secondary economic reasons could be masked, as in
the case of married women, who would cite other
reasons for movement. Another problem is that
migration data relate to stocks of migrants and not to
flows, although different policy concerns relate to
stocks (of different ages) and flows. Many of these
concerns can be handled only by micro surveys,
which have their own problems.

Population mobility
In one view, population mobility in India is low (Davis,
1951; Kundu and Gupta, 1996). Migration statistics
to the early 1990s also suggest a decline in mobility.
In the 1991 census, using the change in residence
concept, 27.4% of the population is considered to
have migrated (that is, 232 million of the total 838
million persons), which shows a considerable decline
from 30.6% in 1971 and 31.2% in 1981. This is true
for male and female migrants. In the case of males,
it declined from 18.1% in 1971 to 14.7% in 1991.
In the case of females, it declined from 43.1% in
1971 to 41.6% in 1991.
However, recent evidence based on NSS figures for
1992–1993 and 1999–2000, and indirectly supported
by the census, suggests an increase in migration rates –
from 24.7% to 26.6% over that period. This evidence
suggests the proportion of migrants of both sexes, in
both rural and urban areas, increased during the last
decade of the 20th century.
A significant proportion of women
migrates over short distances, mainly following marriage.
The proportion of male lifetime migrants is low in
most poor states except Madhya Pradesh and high in
most developed states.
Rural areas are still the main
destination for migrants, but urban destinations are
more important for male migrants
Between 1992–1993 and 1999–2000, NSS data
indicate an increase in urban migration, but this is
mainly due to urban-urban flows (Srivastava and
Bhattacharya, 2002).

Migration for work
The primary motive for migration, recorded by the
census as well as the NSS, is an important indicator of
how mobility is influenced by conditions of the labour
market. Of the 27.4% who changed place of residence,
as per 1991 census, 8.8% moved for employment
reasons and 2.3% had business motives
The proportion migrating for economic reasons is
greater among long-distance migrants; most male
migrants moving between states did so for economic
reasons. Again, economic motives are more significant
in urban migration streams, especially for males.
A distinct regional variation emerges in the work
pattern of migrants. In the northeastern states and some
others, migrants are mainly employed in the tertiary
and secondary sector of the economy. Elsewhere, the
primary sector attracts the migrant most .
In the tertiary sector,
significant proportions of male migrants are engaged
as sales workers, followed by clerical and related work.
All the western states have a significant proportion of
male migrants in secondary activity and in the southern
and north-eastern states they are mainly engaged in
the tertiary sector. In the case
of female migrant workers, 40% are in production
related works and a significant proportion are in
technical and professional activity.
Migration for work in the 1990s
Comparing activity status before and after migration
for all migrants, we find that migrants in general show
much higher work participation rates for both urban
and rural areas In the urban areas, the NSS 55th round
figures show a significant transition towards regular
employment and self-employment among males,
with a small decline in the percentage of casual labour.
In the rural areas, there is an increase in all three
categories including casual labour, but the most
significant shift is towards self-employment. In the case
of female migrants, however, along with an increase in
the percentage of workers to population in all three
categories after migration, there is also an increase in
casualisation both in rural and urban areas, but quite
significantly in the former.
These results, along with the decline in short
duration migration, which we discuss below, suggest
that the 1990s may have provided greater opportunity
for labour mobility to those who were better positioned
– males in urban areas and in the non-agricultural
sector. However, these results are still tentative and
need to be corroborated with further analysis from
other sources.

Short duration labour migration
Our special interest is in temporary, short duration
migration, because such migrants lack stable employment
and sources of livelihood at home and belong to the
poorer strata. These migrants find work in agriculture,
seasonal industries, or are absorbed in the amorphous
urban economy, either as casual labourers or as selfemployed.
In terms of the duration of migration, Census of
India estimates 56.2% of the migrants in 1991 were
of more than 10 years standing, while 21.4% were of
1 to 9 years duration.
in 1992–93 the total number of estimated short
duration migrants was 16.75 million, suggesting a
sharp decline in the intervening years.
These flows might be
underestimated in national surveys. The National
Commission of Rural Labour (NCRL) made a quick
estimate of such labourers based on their numbers
in industries employing migrant workers. According
to the NCRL, there were approximately 10 million
seasonal/circular migrants in the rural areas alone.
This included an estimated 4.5 million inter-state
migrants. There were large numbers of migrants in
agriculture and plantations, brick kilns, quarries,
construction sites and fish processing.
A number of field studies over the 1990s also
provide rough estimates of the magnitude of seasonal
migration in different parts of India. These attest to the
considerable scale of such migration. Empirical
research on the scale and pattern of seasonal
migration of workers to the rice-producing belt of
West Bengal carried out in 1999–00 suggests that the
number of seasonal migrants, drawn from tribals,
Muslims and other low castes, moving to Bardhaman
district during aman harvesting season exceeds
500,000 and this volume has been growing since the
1980s (Rogaly et al, 2001).
Other studies in the
tribal areas in MP, Rajasthan and Gujarat also indicate a
very high rate of outmigration, in some cases involving
60 to 80% of households (Mosse et al, 2002;
Haberfeld et al, 1999; Rani and Shylendra, 2001).
Significant number of tribals, mainly from drought
prone areas of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and
Maharashtra, migrate to work in construction, tile
factory, brick kiln and crop cutting in Maharashtra
(Pandey, 1998). Saora, Munda and Santhal tribes have
a long history of migration, with male only migration
among the Saora (plantation cultivation in Assam and
Arunachal Pradesh), whereas Mundas and Santhals
migrate as household units, mainly to NALCO site in
Denkanal district of Orissa (Menon, 1995). The
construction industry mainly depends on migrant
labour (90% of the labourers are migrants in one
estimate (Vaijanyanta, 1998). Around 40,000 girls
migrate from Kerala annually to other state to work
in the fishery industry (Sarodamoni, 1995).

Profile of migrant workers
Migration encompasses enormous economic and social
diversity. Migrants are concentrated in different types
of work in rural and urban areas. In the rural areas,
self-employment is the predominant activity for both
male and female migrant workers followed by casual
work which, according to the NSS 55th round findings,
engaged 33.4% of male migrant workers and 44.2%
of female migrant workers in 1999–00. In urban areas,
regular employment engaged 55.6% of the male
workers while self-employment and casual work
engaged 31.1 and 13.3% of male migrant workers
The NCRL report suggests that labourers and landpoor
farmers have a high propensity to migrate as
seasonal labourers.
Data on individual migrants gleaned from micro
surveys shows a significant clustering of migrants in
the 16–40 year age group (Conell et al, 1976). This is
even more the case with poorer semi-permanent or
temporary labour migrants (Srivastava 1999, and
forthcoming). With respect to education, migration
rates are high both among the highly educated and the
least educated, and among seasonal migrants there is
a high preponderance of illiterate people (Connell et al,
1976; Rogaly et al, 2001; Haberfeld et al, 1999).
The pattern of labour migration (whether males
alone, males and females, or females alone) is related
to the social structure, the pattern of demand, and the
nature of the migration process. In some sectors such
as construction, brick kiln and sugarcane cutting,
family migration is prevalent as it is more economical
for employers.
On the whole, however, females
move smaller distances for work compared to males.
Causes of migration
Migration is influenced
both by the pattern of development (NCRL, 1991), and
the social structure (Mosse et al, 2002). The National
Commission on Rural Labour, focusing on seasonal
migration, concluded that uneven development was
the main cause of seasonal migration. Along with inter
regional disparity, disparity between different socioeconomic
classes and the development policy adopted
since independence has accelerated the process of
seasonal migration. In tribal regions, intrusion of
outsiders, the pattern of settlement, displacement and
deforestation, also have played a significant role.
At one end of the migration spectrum, workers
could be locked into a debt-migration cycle, where
earnings from migration are used to repay debts
incurred at home or in the destination areas, thereby
cementing the migration cycle. At the other end,
migration is largely voluntary, although shaped by their
limited choices.
The landless poor, who mostly belong to
lower caste, indigenous communities, from economically
backward regions, migrate for survival and constitute a
significant proportion of seasonal labour flow (Study
Group on Migrant Labour, 1990).
The growth of intensive agriculture and
commercialisation of agriculture since the late
1960s has led to peak periods of labour demand,
often also coinciding with a decline in local labour
deployment. In the case of labour flows to the riceproducing
belt of West Bengal, wage differentials
between the source and destination have been
considered as the main reason for migration.
Moreover, absence of non-farm employment, low
agricultural production has resulted in a growth of
seasonal migration (Rogaly et al, 2001).
Where migration is essentially involuntary, it makes
little sense to use voluntaristic models to explain the
phenomenon. In Dhule region (Maharashtra) sugarcane
cultivation leads to high demand for labour, but
landowners recruit labourers from other districts for
harvesting as they can have effective control over the
labour. Local labourers are thus forced to migrate with
their households to South Gujarat (Teerink 1995). In
Kerala, trawler-fishing has depleted marine resources.
With unemployment in other industries like cashew
and rubber, this has led to large scale outmigration
of girls (Sardamoni, 1995)

The impact of migration
Living conditions: migrant labourers, whether
agricultural or non-agricultural, live in deplorable
conditions. There is no provision of safe drinking water
or hygienic sanitation. Most live in open spaces or
makeshift shelters in spite of the Contract Labour Act
which stipulates that the contractor or employer
should provide suitable accommodation (NCRL, 1991;
GVT, 2002; Rani and Shylendra, 2001).
Slum dwellers,
who are mostly migrants, stay in deplorable conditions,
with inadequate water and bad drainage. Food costs
more for migrant workers who are not able to obtain
temporary ration cards.
Health and Education: labourers working in harsh
circumstances and living in unhygienic conditions
suffer from serious occupational health problems and
are vulnerable to disease. Those working in quarries,
construction sites and mines suffer from various health
hazards, mostly lung diseases. As the employer does
not follow safety measures, accidents are quite frequent.
Migrants cannot access various health and family
care programmes due to their temporary status. Free
public health care facilities and programmes are not
accessible to them. For women workers, there is no
provision of maternity leave, forcing them to resume
work almost immediately after childbirth. Workers,
particularly those working in tile factories and brick
kilns suffer from occupational health hazards such as
body ache, sunstroke and skin irritation (NCRL, 1991).
As there are no crèche facilities, children often
accompany their families to the workplace to be exposed
to health hazards. They are also deprived of education:
the schooling system at home does not take into
account their migration pattern and their temporary
status in the destination areas does not make them
eligible for schooling there (Rogaly et al, 2001; 2002).
In the case of male-only migration, the impact on
family relations and on women, children and the elderly
left behind can be quite significant. The absence of
men adds to material and psychological insecurity,
leading to pressures and negotiations with wider family
(Rogaly et al, 2001; 2002). Given the patriarchal set up, women
may have to cope with a number of problems which
are exacerbated due to the uncertainty of the timing
and magnitude of remittances on which the precarious
household economy depends. This, in turn, pushes
women and children from poor labouring households
to participate in the labour market under adverse
conditions. Thus, the impact of migration on the women
can be two-sided but the strong influence of patriarchy
restricts the scope of women’s autonomy (cf. Teerink,
1995; Menon, 1995; Rogaly et al, 2001). The impact of
male migration can be especially adverse for girls, who
often have to bear additional domestic responsibilities
and take care of younger siblings. The absence of male
supervision further reduces their chances of acquiring
education (Srivastava, 2001, and forthcoming).
There are several cases where women participate in
the migration streams along with male members of
their households. It is usual in such cases for younger
siblings and older children to accompany their parents
and to work along with them. Family migration usually
implies migration of the younger members of the family,
leaving the elderly to cope with additional responsibilities
while at the same time fend for their subsistence and
other basic requirements (Mosse et al, 1997).
The increased
awareness which migrants, especially in urban areas,
gain often helps them realise the importance of their
children’s education.

Impact on source areas
The major impacts of migration on source areas occur
through changes in the labour market, income and assets,
changes in the pattern of expenditure and investment.
Although seasonal outmigration potentially has the
effect of smoothing out employment over the annual
cycle, rural outmigration could cause a tightening of
the labour market in some circumstances. However,
empirical evidence from out-migrant areas does not
often attest to this (Connell et al, 1976; Srivastava,
1999). This may be because outmigration often takes
place in labour surplus situations. There is also evidence
of the replacement of outmigrant male labour by
female and even child labour (Srivastava, forthcoming).
Srivastava’s (1999) study of seven villages in Uttar
Pradesh showed some variation over regions. While
the situation in the study villages in Eastern and
central Uttar Pradesh conformed to a situation of
labour surplus, this was not the case in Western Uttar
Pradesh where seasonal migration coincided with
the agricultural peak season (Rabi) and employers
complained of labour shortages. Significantly in all
the regions studied, labourers on their part gave
uncertainty of employment along with employment
conditions and poor relations with their agricultural
employers as the major reasons for outmigration.
First, there is the well-documented
impact of migration on attitudes and awareness as
migrant labourers and return migrants are more
reluctant to accept adverse employment conditions
and low wages. Secondly, outmigration leads to a
more diversified livelihood strategy. Combined with
some increase in the income and employment
portfolio of poor households, this may tend to
push up acceptable level of wages (reservation
wages) in rural areas and may make certain forms of
labour relationships (as for example, those involving
personalised dependency) less acceptable (Srivastava,
ibid; cf. also Rogaly et al, 2001).
Outmigration as a result of debt at home, or
debt-interlocking (i.e. the repayment of debts through
advance labour commitment) involving employers in
the destination areas or their middlemen, is quite
common. Such outmigration may or may not eliminate
the causes of debt. The reduction of personalised
dependencies or interlocked relationships may also
accelerate labour mobility and migration as labourers
seek out alternative sources of cash income (Srivastava,
1987; Breman, 1974, 1985; Mosse et al, 1997).

Impact on destination areas
There are clearly multiple rationales for the use of
migrant labour in destination areas. While shortages
of local labour provides one important rationale
(Singh and Iyer, 1985; Oberai and Singh, 1983),
virtually all available evidence shows that recruitment
of immigrants is as much motivated by strategies of
labour control and wage cost reduction.
are preferred because their labour is easier to control
and it is easier to extract labour from them under arduous
conditions. Moreover, the supply of labour can be easily
increased or decreased with little cost to employers and
migrants can work for long and flexible hours.
Finally, the wage payment systems which grow
around industries based predominantly on migrant
labour are eminently suited to side-stepping minimum
wage legislation. Thus migration reduces labour cost
to employers.
The labour market outcomes generated by labour
immigration facilitate a certain kind of growth and
accumulation in the destination areas, although this is
via what can be described as a ‘low road’ to capitalism.
Labour immigration is one of the strategies
favoured by entrepreneurs to shift both risk and cost
of production on to workers. Another reason for
continued informalisation is to keep businesses away
from state surveillance. Thus most enterprises in the
informal sector escape regulation of any kind.
Furthermore, in such destination areas, employers
rarely provide anything other than wage subsistence
requirements. Migrant labourers have to fend for
themselves to meet their health, shelter and other basic
requirements. Although the poor condition in which
labourers subsist is a result of employers not internalising
the legitimate costs of hiring labour (contravening
numerous laws), to society the resulting urban congestion
appears to be result of unplanned mobility. The costs of
population mobility have been, as a result, considered
in theory in the context of large costs imposed by
population concentration in large cities. The social,
political and other consequences of immigration,
especially where such migration is by linguistically,
ethnically or regionally distinct groups, has not been
considered in the growing economic literature on
internal migration, but figures prominently in the corpus
of sociological and political literature (cf. Weiner, 1978).

Government legislation and policies
Labour laws and policies
The Indian Constitution contains basic provisions
relating to the conditions of employment, nondiscrimination,
right to work etc. (e.g., Article 23(1),
Article 39, Article 42, Article 43). India is also a
member of the ILO and has ratified many of the ILO
conventions. These provisions and commitments,
along with pressure from workers’ organisations,
have found expression in labour laws and policies.
Migrant labourers face additional problems and
constraints as they are both labourers and migrants.
Many of the problems faced by migrant labourers are
covered by laws and policies in as much as they cover
all labourers in a particular sector or industry These
laws include the Minimum Wages Act,1948; the Contract
Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act,1970; the Equal
Remuneration Act,1976; the Building and Other
Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and
Conditions of Service), Act,1996; the Workmen’s
Compensation Act 1923; the Payment of Wages Act
1936; the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act,
1986; the Bonded Labour Act, 1976; the Employees
State Insurance Act, 1952; the Employees Provident
Fund Act, 1952; and the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.
The last three Acts cover only organised sector workers
and thus preclude temporary migrants.
In addition to the above laws, Parliament passed
the Inter State Migrant Workmen (Regulation and
Conditions of Service) Act 1979 specifically to deal
with malpractices associated with the recruitment and
employment of workers who migrate across state
boundaries. The Act followed the recommendations
of a committee set up by the Labour Ministers’
Conference in 1976. The Act covers only interstate
migrants recruited through contractors or middlemen
and those establishments that employ five or more
such workers on any given day. Under the Act:
• Contractors and establishments are required to be
licensed and registered by a notified registering authority.
• The contractor is required to issue a passbook to every
worker, giving details about the worker, including
payments and advances, and pay each worker a
displacement allowance and a journey allowance.
• Contractors must pay timely wages equal to or
higher than the minimum wage; provide suitable
residential accommodation, prescribed medical
facilities and protective clothing; and notify accidents
and casualties to specified authorities and kin.
Labour laws aiming to protect migrant workers
have remained largely on paper. In the case of the
1979 Act, few contractors have taken licences and
very few enterprises employing interstate migrant
workers have registered under the Act. The record of
prosecutions and dispute settlement has been very
weak. Migrant workers do not possess pass books,
prescribed by law, and forming the basic record of
their identity and their transactions with the contractor
and employers (NCRL 1991, GVT, 2003).
A study conducted on the status of migrant
workers in the Punjab by the Centre for Education and
Communication (CEC) pointed out gross violations of
the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation Act 1986),
the Minimum Wages Act (1948), the Contract Labour
Act (1970), the Inter State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979
and the Equal Remuneration Act (1976). The violation
of these laws was found to be most rampant in the
case of brick kilns. Different kinds of harassment were
meted out to migrant workers by the police, postal
department, owners of the establishments, owners of
workers’ dwellings, shopkeepers, labour contractors
and the railway police during their journey.
This system lends itself to abuses – working hours are
not fixed and workers have to work under extremely
harsh conditions (

Role of non governmental organisations
As in governmental policy, migrants have low visibility
in the work of political organisations, trade unions and
non-governmental/voluntary organisations. Regional
political parties and organisations often ascribe
economic and social problems to the presence of
migrants. Trade unions also sometimes emphasise
the negative role of migrant workers (in dampening
wages or being instrumental in strike breaking) and
are relatively less active in organising these workers
to protect their own rights.
Nevertheless, some organisations are actively
engaged in helping to improve wages and working
and living conditions of migrant labourers, and, in
the source areas, to improve the flow of information
and credit to migrant workers, protect their entitlements,
and to develop these areas so as to curb distress
• In West Bengal, the bargaining power of migrant
labourers has improved due to the intervention of the
Krishak Sabha and panchayats. These organisations
have settled local disputes between labourers and
employers and worked to close the gaps between
immigrant and non-immigrant and male and female
wages (Rogaly et al, 2001, 2002). The Krishak Sabha
has negotiated between employers and workers at
the district level so that that migrant wages do not
undercut local wages and employment, thereby
reducing friction with local labourers.
• A few organisations like the Nirman Mazdoor
Panchayat, the National Campaign Committee for
Construction Labourers, and the National Federation
of Construction labourers, are working to improve
the wages and working conditions of construction
labourers, many of whom are migrants. Nirman has
also started mobile crèche for children of
construction workers (Vaijanyanta 1998).
• The Mobile Crèches organisation was created in
1986 in Mumbai to meet the needs of children of
migrant construction workers, giving children basic
literacy and numeracy skills, together with health
education. The Child-to-Child programme within
Bombay Mobile Crèches introduced specific health
messages covering personal hygiene, environmental
cleanliness, safe water, prevention of accidents,
nutrition, polio, measles, diarrhoea, scabies, leprosy,
tuberculosis and bad habits (e.g. alcohol abuse). A
similar Mobile Crèches programme also operates in
Delhi with the support of the Aga Khan Foundation
• The Western India Rainfed Farming Project is a sevenyear
development project covering village clusters in
seven districts of three states (MP, Rajasthan and
Gujarat). The project is being implemented through
Gramin Vikas Trust (GVT) and Indian Farm Forestry
Development Co-operative (IFFDC). Migration involves
more than two-thirds of the households in the region
and more than two-fifth of the working adults. Nearly
42% of the migrants are women. Development
interventions (mainly soil and water conservation)
have reduced the intensity of migration, although
with mixed impact (reduced outflow of working
males). Both GVT and IFFDC have developed
extensive multi-pronged strategies to deal with
migration, with some differences in emphasis (IFFDC
continues to put greater stress on local asset creation
and employment generation to reduce migration).
One major dimension of the GVT strategy is to increase
returns to migration by upgrading skills, improving
awareness, enhancing negotiation skills, and providing
better information flows to migrants and potential
employers, and strengthening linkages with government
organisations and other service providers. The other
dimension is to reduce the costs of migration through
interventions both in the source and destination areas.
Interventions in the areas of origin include improving
communication with families, providing identity cards,
setting up of shelters for the elderly and children, and
pooled arrangements for taking care of cattle. Institutional
initiatives include the strengthening of self-help groups
to address the concerns of migrants, recruitment of
jankars, for awareness building, setting up resource
centres, and liaising with panchayats and other
agencies and organisations. In order to carry the
migrant support activities forward, partnerships are
being developed with organisations supporting
migrants in urban areas.


International migration from independent India
Two distinct types of labour migration have been
taking place from India since independence:
• People with technical skills and professional expertise
migrate to countries such as the USA, Canada, UK
and Australia as permanent migrants (since the
early 1950s).
• Unskilled and semi-skilled workers migrate to oil
exporting countries of the Middle East on temporary
contracts, especially following the oil price increases
of 1973–74 and 1979.

Occupational distribution and skill composition
During the 1950s and the 1960s, a significant
proportion of those who migrated to the UK and, to
some extent, to Canada, were unskilled or semi-skilled.
During the 1970s and the 1980s, however, much
emigration was made up of people with professional
expertise, technical qualifications of managerial talents
and of white-collar workers who were also educated.
Such skill composition continued to dominate migration
flows during the 1990s as well.

Migration to the Middle East: magnitude and
The oil price increases of 1973–74 and 1979 led to
enormous growth in the demand for foreign labour in
the oil exporting countries of the Gulf. In response,
labourers from India began to migrate in large numbers
and the flow still continues. The scale of labour
movements into the Gulf was intimately linked to the
escalation in oil revenues, the unprecedented rate of
investment in domestic industry and infrastructure of
the oil states, and the shortage of domestic labour.

Trends in the annual outflow of migrant labour
from India to the Middle East for the period 1976 to
2001 based on the available statistics, although an
underestimate. The data
shows that outmigration increased at a phenomenal
rate through the late 1970s, peaking in 1981. From
1979 to 1982, nearly 234,064 persons per annum had
migrated from India to the Middle East for employment
purpose. The period during 1983 to 1990, however,
witnessed a significant reduction in the number of
Indian workers migrating to the Middle East with the
average number of persons migrating per annum
declining to 155,401. Such a decline could mainly
be attributed to the reduction in demand for migrant
workers in the Middle East emanating mainly from
the oil glut of the early 1980s.
Viewing this trend, apprehensions were expressed
in many quarters as to whether Indian labour
migration to the Middle East would be sustained in
a significant manner in the next couple of decades.
These apprehensions were further aggravated by the
events relating to the Gulf crisis of 1990 which forced
nearly 160,000 Indians to return home from the warzones
in distressed conditions (Sasikumar, 1995).
Contrary to apprehensions of declining outmigration,
evidence indicates that labour migration from India to
the Middle East has picked up substantial momentum
since the initial hiatus in the early1990s. During
1992–2001, nearly 360,000 persons per annum
migrated from India to the Gulf countries. This is
significantly higher than the quantum of labour outflows
from India attained even during the ‘Gulf boom’ of
the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The data on emigration clearances by country of
destination, for the period 1990 to 2001, is presented
in Table B10. It shows that Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
have been the principal destinations during the last
two decades. In fact they account for about 55% of
total Indian emigration to the Middle East.
The state-wise distribution of emigration clearances
granted during 1993–2001 shows that nearly 16 states
contribute to the process of emigration to the Middle
East, with varying degrees of
. Three states, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra
Pradesh together contribute to about 60% of those
who have obtained emigration clearance.

Return flows
Return migration is an inevitable aspect of temporary
or contract migration. In the case of Indian labour
migration to the Middle East, return migration has
assumed important dimensions since the mid 1980s.
During the 1970s, employment possibilities in the
Middle East were more or less assured. Under such
market conditions, displacement of labour from labour
importing countries was minimal. But the scenario
changed towards the beginning of the 1980s as
demand for imported labour declined and supply
grew. The effect was to force intending migrants to
return to their native countries. It is not that labour
migration to the Middle East was reduced, but the
labour flow started taking place in both directions.
The net result was that ‘return migration’ emerged
on a significant scale.
There is almost total lack of information on aspects
like occupational structure, skills acquired, resource
position, investment capabilities and investment plans
of the return migrants. This has severely impaired the
formulation of any purposeful reintegration plans for
the return migrants underscoring the need for further
research in this area.

Economic impact of labour migration
At the aggregate level, labour emigration affects the
sending country’s economy through its impact on the
labour market, on macro-economic variables (savings,
balance of payments and so on), and social relations.
These impacts are summarised below.
Impact on labour markets
In fact, total
emigration to the four industrialised countries (USA,
UK, Australia and Canada) constituted a mere 0.13%
of the population of graduates in 1991. Similarly
considering the large reservoir of educated unemployed
in India, it may be reasonable to presume that
permanent migration to the industrialised countries
could have hardly created any supply shortages in the
labour markets. In such a situation it may be prudent
to assume that the aggregate labour market effects of
permanent migration is negligible in the Indian context.
However, it is important to mention that such
migration has given rise to considerable debates
on costs and benefits of emigration of certain
categories of highly skilled workers through ‘brain
drain’. Abella (1997), for example, highlights the
important implications of the brain drain phenomenon
as follows. The first is the need to avoid exacerbating
the problem, which happens when the state facilitates
the emigration of skills wanted at home. The second
is the need to remove rigidities in the labour market
which may be constraining timely supply response. The
third implication is the challenge of including return
through programmes that compensate for some of the
comparative disadvantages of less developed countries.
Even though the magnitude of temporary migration
from India to the Middle East is much larger than the
quantum of migration to the industrialised countries,
as a proportion to the total workforce in the country,
it is again negligible.
Although at the pan Indian level the repercussions
of migration on the labour market is not significant,
as migration to Middle East takes place from specific
regions, the labour markets of these regions are
affected. For instance, Kerala’s labour market
experienced considerable shortage for semiskilled
labourers such as carpenters, welders, plumbers,
drivers, electricians, motor mechanics and other
crafts men (Nair, 1998). As a result of this, wage rates
have multiplied and yet there is continued shortage
of such workers (Sasikumar and Raju, 2000).
The most
recent evidence in this regard is reported by the Kerala
Migration Study of 1998 (Zachariah et al, 2002).
The study notes that the unemployment rates in the
state has declined by about 3 percentage points as a
consequence of migration.

Impact through financial flows
The most widely recognised immediate benefit from
the international labour migration remains the flow of
remittances, which not only augments scarce foreign
exchange but also provides a potential source of
additional savings and capital formation. Remittances
have direct bearing on the balance of payments accounts
as they meet a substantial part of the import bill.

shows a substantial increase in the value of remittances
during the mid 1970s to the late 1980s and subsequent
stagnation till the beginning of the 1990s. It is more or
less certain that this trend is closely related to the size
of labour migration from India to the Middle East. It
also highlights the major role played by remittances
of Indian migrant workers from the Middle East in
augmenting foreign exchange resources.
An examination of trends in value of remittances
during the 1990s (Table B19) reveals a significant
growth remittance flows in the Indian economy. This
spectacular increase could mainly be attributed to the
general liberalisation of the foreign exchange regime.
A certain proportion of remittances is channelled
through informal means and thereby is undocumented
in the official data. Here again, lack of reliable estimates
makes meaningful inferences difficult. However, based
on the findings of certain micro level studies, it could
be ascertained that such undocumented remittances
were fairly prominent in the late 1970s and 1980s.
Apart from these policy measures, the arrival of
e-banking, which provide instantaneous transfer
also encourages migrants to use formal means for
remittances. (Zachariah et al, 2002b)
In terms of the macro level impact, the impact
of remittances is most significant in the context of
balance of payments.
Remittances, however, have had a considerable
impact on regional economies within India. Here
again, the most striking case in point is that of Kerala.
A recent study (Kannan and Hari, 2002) concludes
that remittances to the Kerala economy averaged
21% of state income in the 1990s. This study also
reports that an increase in per capita income as a
result of remittances has contributed to an increase
in consumption expenditure in Kerala. Although the
average per capita consumption in Kerala was below
the national average until 1978–79, by 1999–2000
consumer expenditure in Kerala exceeded the national
average by around 41%.

Social and demographic impacts of migration
Empirical evidence to assess the demographic
consequences of international migration from India
is limited. Evidence available in the case of Kerala
highlights the following:
• Migration has had a direct effect in reducing the
population growth in the state since the 1950s. In
1981–91, nearly a fifth of the natural increase of
population was removed from the state through
• Migration has reduced the working age population
in the state and consequently increased the proportion
of children and the elderly. Migration has contributed
to the prevalence of large numbers of very small
families in the state. Single member households have
increased by 33% and two member households by
42% as a result of migration. (Zachariah et al, 2002b).
Research studies report that migration has had
significant consequences on poverty levels.
The study notes that the proportion has declined by
over 3 percentage points as a result of remittances
received by Kerala households from abroad. It is
important to note that the largest decline has been
in the case of the relatively economically backward
sections of people belonging to the Muslim community,
the decline being over 6 percentage points.
Another prominent impact, which migration,
especially, male migration to the Middle East, has had,
is in relation to the effects on women left behind. This
is especially so in the case of those who are married.
A number of studies conducted during the past
three decades have concluded that one of the major
problems encountered by wives of emigrants is
loneliness. The extent of such loneliness is reported to
be more severe among younger wives whose husbands
migrated immediately after the marriage. Such solitude
had given rise to mental tension in the wives of those
migrated during the 1970s and 80s. Such mental
tensions seem to have been reduced in the 1990s. This
could mainly be attributed to the availability of quicker
means of communication, new responsibilities, roles,
and leisure activities for women (Zachariah et al, 2002 b).

Policy regime governing international labour
migration from India
The overseas employment policy regime in India mainly
addresses temporary and contract migration. The
most important policy instrument, the Emigration Act
1983, deals with the emigration of Indian workers for
overseas employment on a contractual basis and seeks
to safeguard their interest and ensure their welfare.
Prior to the Act of 1983, the Emigration Act of 1922
governed the migration of Indians across national
boundaries. The main purpose of this Act was to
regulate and control the recruitment and emigration
of unskilled agricultural workers. The Rules of the Act
stipulated procedures for emigration and the steps to
be taken by the foreign agents in India for the welfare
of such emigrants. According to the Act, emigration
of unskilled workers involved notifications for specific
countries. However, since no such notification was
issued by the government, the emigration of unskilled
workers progressively declined between 1923 and 1947.
The Act did not specify any regulations governing the
emigration of people with technical qualifications or
professional expertise and therefore permanent
migration to the industrialised countries, which began
from the 1950s, was hardly regulated or monitored
by the policy regime in India.
The Act aims to safeguard the interests of Indians
migrating abroad for employment by stipulating
emigration clearance and registration of recruiting
agents, and by setting up mechanisms for redressing
grievances of migrants.
The policy regime has also not been
concerned with migration of persons with technical or
professional qualifications. The Emigration Act has
considerably reduced the problems encountered by
migrant workers. However, there is little policy influence
on the forces of market supply and demand which still
largely determine the emigration of workers from India.

Problems encountered by migrants
Problems encountered by the migrant workers may be
examined at two levels. First in relation to recruitment
violations and the second in relation to working and
living conditions in destination countries. Commonly
reported violations are delayed deployment or nondeployment
of workers, overcharging or collection of
fees far in excess of authorised placement fees and
illegal recruitment. Delayed deployments are often
caused by factors beyond the control of the recruitment
agency, such as visa delays or when the employer
requests a postponement. Non-deployment is however
a serious case and the magnitude of its implications
are amplified if an excessive placement fee is collected
from the worker. Overcharging is a serious offence and
is prevalent in all labour-sending countries in Asia.
What makes overcharging doubly serious is that the
workers end up paying huge amounts equivalent to
many months salary (Sasikumar, 2000). Minimising, if
not totally eliminating, overcharging poses a serious
challenge to overseas employment administrators.
Illegal recruitment is another serious violation of the
rules as workers get recruited and deployed overseas
without the government knowing about them. Being
unlicensed, illegal recruiters are beyond the reach
of the normal regulatory machinery of the national
overseas employment policy.
Migrant labourers seldom lodge any complaint
against the erring employers for the fear of losing their
jobs. In cases where migrant workers decide to complain
against the erring employer, they have some options. First,
the employee may inform the home embassy in the
country of employment. This is mainly done by people
lacking the means to return home. Embassy officials
sometimes seek the help and assistance of the local
government to take actions against the erring employers.
Apart from that, the Embassy also passes information
about the complaints made to it to the Protector of
Emigrants (POE) offices in India. If a registered recruiting
agent recruited the complainant, then the POE refers
the complaint to the concerned agent seeking explanation.
In most cases the agents maintain that it was the
foreign employer who committed any violation.
However, if the POE office finds the explanation
unsatisfactory it proceeds with further action.
Employers against whom the complaints have
been made, if found guilty through preliminary
investigations, are blacklisted and this information is
passed on to embassies and registered agents in order
to ensure that in future labourers are not supplied to
these employers. Apart from this, generally no action
can be taken against foreign employers as they are
governed by laws of another nation state.
Population Movements within UK

Internal migration is a very important component of population change for local areas within the UK,
both because it changes the total numbers of people resident in each area and because it may alter the
composition of the population. Internal migration is a ‘zero-sum game’: any net migration gain in one
area can take place only through a net loss somewhere else, with consequences for labour supply and
the need for housing, schools, shops and other services.

How many people are moving?

According to the 2001 Census, over seven million UK residents were migrants in the sense that they
were living at a different usual address from that of 12 months earlier. As 407,000 of these had been
living outside the UK, the total number of residents who had moved from one address in the UK to
another during the pre-census year was just under 6.7 million.
Who moves and how far?

Gender is one of the most fundamental of demographic characteristics, but it is not a major
discriminator of migration behavior except in certain contexts such as the movement of armed forces

Turning to age, there is a marked contrast between the migration of younger adults and people aged 45
and over at the Census (Figure 6.2). For the latter, the propensity to move house falls with increasing
age up to around age 75. Above this age, the percentage migrating rises again, reflecting the greater
incidence of ‘defensive moves’ prompted by loss of partner or increasing frailty and involving getting
closer to relatives or moving into smaller dwellings or special accommodation.5 Although longer-
distance retirement migration takes place among people in their 60s, the increasing spread of age of
retirement means that the official retirement ages of 60 for women and 65 for men produce barely
perceptible blips in the profile. The highest levels of residential mobility are for those in their late teens
and early 20s,6 as seen in the peak in Figure 6.2. This peak represents people starting and leaving
university, as well as those leaving school and entering the labour market. It also includes people
leaving the parental home to set up by themselves or with partners and others. The higher rate for
women in their early 20s partly reflects the general age difference in partnerships, though women are
also more likely to move into a dwelling already occupied by their boyfriend than the other way round.
Marital status
• Single never-married people had the highest propensity to change address while the
widowed had the lowest.

Family type
• Cohabiting couples with no children had by far the highest propensity to migrate.

• More healthy people change address more often and move over longer distances.

• Full-time students come close to this migration rate (25.2 per cent of the group), with almost
one-third of these moving 50 km or more.
• Higher professionals (excluding self-employed) saw one in five of their number moving in
the pre-census year, over a quarter of whom had moved 50 km or more.
• Health professionals, those in culture, media and sport occupations, those in customer
service occupations and those in protective service occupations such as security staff all had
migration rates of at least 18 per cent. The proportions moving 50 km or more were
particularly high for protective services (42.1 per cent) and health professionals (36.0 per
• At the other extreme, migration rates were lowest for people in agricultural occupations, for
people in skilled metal and electrical trades and for transport and mobile machine drivers and

• People who changed address the least were those with no qualifications at all.
• Generally, the higher the qualification level, the higher was the proportion moving long

Geographical differences in migration behaviour

People’s propensity to change address varies not only between types of people but also
between places, though the two may well be connected in the sense that places differ in the
makeup of their populations by age, ethnicity and the other dimensions associated with
migration behaviour (as outlined in the previous section). This section examines variation
across the UK between places defined at three different geographical levels:

• Regional/country level, defined in terms of England’s Government Office Regions and the
countries of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland;
• District level, defined in terms of the local and unitary authorities of England and Wales, the
council areas of Scotland, and the local government districts of Northern
• ward level, using the 2001 Census standard wards.
Student migration

-Not surprisingly, the districts gaining students on balance are those containing places of
higher education. Oxford and Cambridge led the way in 2001, with their net migration gains
of full-time students from elsewhere in the UK being equivalent to 3.5 and 3.3 per cent
respectively of their total populations aged 16 to 74.

Higher managerial and professional occupations

- The attraction and retention of more skilled elements of the workforce is seen as vital to
regional growth and urban regeneration.

Both census and NHS-derived data have shown that the year leading up to the 2001 Census
was characterised by relatively high levels of residential mobility in comparison with that at
the time of the two previous censuses. Among the main findings from this mainly census-
based review is that some types of people change address much more often than others. This
is especially so for young adults, including people moving to, at and from university (treated
as migrants by the 2001 Census unlike previously). Second, some areas have a much higher
population turnover than others. Third, changing address is very largely a short-distance
process. Only students moving to and from higher education institutions and members of the
armed forces are strongly associated with long-distance moves. Other groups moving above-
average distances include people who at the census (that is, after their move) were married
couples with no children at home, outright owner-occupiers, the retired, the unemployed and
higher professionals. These are all patterns that have been observed in previous work,
allowing confidence in the quality of the 2001 Census migration data, as well as suggesting
that there have been no major changes in individual people’s migration behaviour in recent
years. The net impact of this within-UK migration on the distribution of the population
between areas has varied rather more over time.
Internal migration and disparities in India


Internal migration is now recognized as an important factor in influencing social and economic
development, especially in developing countries. According to census 2001, the total population of
India is 1028 million consisting of 532 million males and 496 million females. India is geographically
divided into 28 states and 7 Union Territories.


- address mainly the following aspects of spatial mobility within India during the last intercensal
decade of 1991-2001.

1. Reasons for migration
2. In-migration, out-migration and net migration levels of all states.
3. State to state migration flows.
4. Some insights on the determinants of internal migration in India.

Internal migration in India

In 2001, 309 million persons were migrants based on place of last residence, which constitute about
30% of the total population of the country. This figure indicates an increase of around 37 percent from
census 1991 which recorded 226 million migrants. Out of the total migrants 91 million are males and
the rest 218 are females. Thus migrants constitute around 30 percent of the total population, male and
female migrants constituting 18 percent and 45 percent of their population respectively. Of the total
migrants, 87 percent were migrants within the state of enumeration while 13 percent were interstate
migrants. Among the male migrants, 79 percent moved within the state of enumeration while 21
percent moved between states. Among females, 90 percent were intrastate migrants and 10 percent
were interstate migrants. In all censuses, rural to rural migration stream has been the most important.
Females constitute a significantly higher proportion of rural ward migrants mainly on account of
marriage. As regards long distance (inter-state) movement in India, a clear sex differential is found
from census 2001. Among the male interstate migrants, rural to urban stream emerged as the most
prominent accounting for 47 percent. On the other hand, rural to rural has remained the major pattern
of female movement, with 36 percent of them migrating from rural to rural areas.

Reasons for migration

In census 2001, the reasons for migration have been classified into seven broad groups –

1. Work/employment
2. Business
3. Education
4. Marriage,
5. Moved at birth,
6. Moved with family
7. Others

It is observed that employment among males and marriage among females are the main reasons for
migration. Associational reasons – movement on account of accompanying parents or any other
member of the family is elicited second most important reason among both male and female intercensal
‘Moved with household’ as a reason also emerges as an important cause for both male and female
migration in all streams of migration during the intercensal period.

Inter – state migration flows 1991-2001

Although out-migration and in-migration are enough to measure the amount of net migration, the
direction to/from which the migrants moved can be used to explain the structure and pattern of internal
migration in a country. Flow matrices are not readily available from the census publications. However
a directional flow matrix (28 * 28) between the states can be developed from census data. From the
largest three or four magnitudes of out-migration proportions of each state, it is clear that majority of
the migrants have moved to neighboring states only. However there are exceptions for this. For Uttar
Pradesh, which constitutes 41 percent of all our migrants, migration to Maharashtra accounts for 32
percent even though Maharashtra is not a border state. Likewise, out migrants from Orissa preferred
Gujarat and Maharashtra as the destination even when these states are not border states. Out-migration
to these states made up to 34 percent of total out-migrants from Orissa.
A close look at the pattern of each state’s out-migration is as follows. 56 percent of out-migrants from
Uttar Pradesh have gone to Maharashtra, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. In the case of Bihar, nearly 50
percent out-migrants have moved to Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Out-
migrants from these two states made up to 70 percent of total out-migrants. More than one-third of
Tamil Nadu migrants moved to Karnataka. The rest of the out-migrants have chosen mainly Kerala,
Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. More than three-fourth of out-migrants from Andhra Pradesh have
moved to the border states namely, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. For the out-migrants from
Rajasthan, destinations are Maharashtra, Haryana, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Turning to Kerala,
about 48 percent have moved to the neighboring states, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. However, a
slightly more than one-fourth of the out-migrants from Kerala have moved to Maharashtra, which is
not a bordering state. Overall it is observed that majority of the out-migrants have moved to the
bordering states. Nevertheless, it is observed that migration to non bordering states has also been
significant. Here, one has to remember the enormous variations in the geographical sizes of Indian
states. With the distance covered by an inter-district migrant in state like Rajasthan, a migrant in
smaller states can reach another state, thus qualifying as interstate migration. From the flow matrix,
Maharashtra emerges the most favored destination for migration. Half of the entire interstate migrants
have moved to Maharashtra. Gujarat and Haryana are the other preferred destinations with nearly 30
percent of the migrants moving to these states. The three states, thus, attracted 80 percent of all
interstate migrants during the intercensal period 1991-2001.

Inter-state migration: socio-economic determinants.

There is growing evidence in India to suggest that the country is moving fast in the overall
development. Structural transformation in the 1990s has propelled the growth of the economy further.
The percentage of people below poverty line has reduced and per capita consumption has improved
simultaneously. Although Indian economy is predominantly agricultural, the proportion of work force
engaged in agricultural activities has fallen significantly. This reduction is perhaps, a sign of enhanced
job opportunities in other sectors.
With this scenario of an optimistic economic growth at the national level, an attempt is made to relate
the levels of migration of each state with some social and economic indicators. The following variables
have been considered for the preliminary analysis: - proportion urban, per capita income, proportion of
non agricultural workers, density, economic dependency ratio, average earnings of rural labor, sex
ratio, proportion age 15-59 and sex ratio of age15-49. Zero order correlation coefficients of these
variables with migration levels is expected to provide some insights on the mechanisms of push pull
factors of spatial mobility in India. The measurement errors in both the sets of variables, socio
economic variables as well as migration, cannot be summarily ruled out, although efforts will be made
to maximize the reliability. Further, from the host of socio economic variables, some variables are
considered for a linear regression analysis with the levels of in-migration. A quick look at the flow
matrix shows that the poorest states in terms of state’s per capita income have moved to states with
high per capita income. The mean per capita income of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the decade 1991-
2001 is Rs.3209 and Rs.6757 respectively. But the preferred destination states, Maharashtra, Gujarat
and Haryana have high per capita income of Rs.16254; Rs.13980 and Rs.15386 respectively. On the
other hand, Punjab with a higher per capita income of Rs.16765 has not attracted migrants in the
decade. In overall, it is found that states with less per capita income has migrated to states with higher
per capita income, higher wages and better opportunities
Migration case study: Poland to the UK
    o    Poland was one of the 10 nations joining the European Union. 8 of these countries
         (known as A8 by the EU) were Eastern European nations.
    o    The EU allows free movement of labours between its member countries.
   o   There was an increase in migration into the EU’s more prosperous nations due to
       the accession of the A8 nations, most of which had higher unemployment rate s and
       lower standards of living
   o   The UK government predicted there would be 15 000 migrants from the A8 moving
       to UK

Migration from Poland
   o   Nationals from A8 countries who wish to work in the UK for over one month are
       generally required to register with the Home Office’s Worker Registration Scheme
   o   Instead 15 000 predicted, 447 000 people from Eastern Europe had applied to work
       in the UK.
   o   The total Polish migrant workers is 370 000 since April 2004
   o   An additional 150 000 people from the A8 nations migrated to the UK as self-
       employed workers (eg. Builders and plumbers) who need not register with the WRS
   o   According to the Polish embassy, the number of Polish workers in Britain was
       between 500 000 and 600 000.
   o   Poles are now the 3rd largest minority ethnic group in the UK.
   o   Most Polish workers are long-term migrants and they came into the UK in 2005
       more than citizens of other countries.
   o   The proportion of Poles within the A8 group migrating into the UK for at least a year
       increased from about 35% in 2004 to over 70% in 2005.
   o   Overall, estimated 64 000 more A8 citizens migrated into the UK for at least a year
       then left in 2004 compared with 49 000 in 2005
   o   In 2005, 16 000 A8 citizens left the UK, in 2004 only 3000.

Reasons for migration
   o   Push factors encouraging Poles to leave their own country and Pull factors attracting
       them to the UK
   o   Some of the factors are the desire to experience life abroad and to learn or improve
       their spoken English
   o   In Poland the unemployment rate averaged 18.2% in 2005, the highest
       unemployment rate in the 27 nations of the OECD, with some rural areas having
       unemployment rates of over 40%
   o   Young Poles, even with a high level of education, faced a youth unemployment rate
       of over 40%
   o   The UK’s unemployment rate is only 5.1%, and is experiencing significant skill
       shortages as well as a high demand for semi-skilled and unskilled labour
   o   The average number of job vacancies in the UK for the 3 months in January 2007
       was 607 900.
   o   In Poland annual GDP per head in 2006 was around $12 700 compared to $30 900 in
       the UK
   o   UK, Ireland, Sweden were the only 3 countries in the EU not to restrict immigration
       from the A8 following accession
   o   The remaining EU member states (including France, Germany and Austria) chose to
       retain restrictions on immigration for up to 7 years
    o   Polish migrant workers can earn 4-5 times as much pay in the UK, while cost of living
        is only twice as high
    o   Many plan to work in the UK for a few years then return to Poland with their savings

Characteristics of the Polish migrants
    o   Skilled and unskilled industrial workers and tradesmen form by far the largest social
    o   They are prepared to go to the UK in search of a better life as they are among the
        poorest in Polish society having to survive on £150 monthly and they often have
        young families too
    o   Another sub-group of migrants are Polish students taking a gap year before or after
        completing their university degree course
    o   Factory workers make up the largest group of A8 workers registered with the WRS
    o   Low-skilled jobs including cleaners, maids, farmworkers, kitchen assistants, waiters,
        building labourers and packers make up another 37%
    o   Labour Force Survey showed that in September 2005 less than half of those
        registered since May 2004 were still living in the UK. Thus for most migrants their
        time in the UK is limited

The distribution of Polish migrants within the UK
    o   Migration often follows a pattern of slow dispersal from the port of entry
    o   Capital cities and large industrial towns are traditionally attractive to migrants
    o   An interesting in-flow of A8 migrants has been their broad geographical spread
        across the UK, not simply across industrial cities but also across rural areas
    o   120 000 migrant workers registered in English rural areas between May 2004 and
        September 2006
    o   Herefordshire is the top rural district, with 8156 registrations
    o   3 economic sectors account for over ¾ of the WRS registration in rural areas,
        manufacturing (33%), agriculture and fisheries (25%) and distribution, hotel and
        retail (20%)
    o   While accounting for 78% of migrant worker employment in rural areas, only 36% of
        these sectors account for total rural employment
    o   Migration flow is assisted by growth in low-cost airlines, which operate from 9 Polish
        airports to 18 UK airports
    o   Regional employers seeking cheap and temporary labour can use agencies to bring
        people in more quickly due to flights to regional airports
    o   The growth in passenger number from Polish airports has been remarkable; in 2000
        there were 5.7 million international passengers using Polish airports, by 2006 this
        increased to 15 million
    o   Poland is the 2nd fastest growing air traffic market in the world
    o   Most of these growth is due to flights in the UK. Eg. Gdansk Airport’s international
        passenger numbers increased from 138 000 in 2000 to 960 000 in 2006

The impact of migration
    o   There are concerns in the UK ranging from costs of supporting poor Polish migrants,
        of Poles taking jobs from British workers, of young Poles behaving badly, of the
        growth of Catholicism in Britain, of road signs appearing in Polish etc
    o   New migrants are beneficial to UK in several ways:
        1. £2.54 billion is contributed to the economy annually by eastern European
           immigrants in the UK
        2. Migrants have contributed to 0.5 to 1% of UK’s economic growth in 2005 and
        3. 80% of new migrants are working people between ages of 18 and 35. This
           offsets tendency for the UK’s population to age, addressing difficulties in
           providing for an ageing population. National insurance contributions would have
           to be higher if immigration was lower
        4. Bank of England stated that migration had helped to prevent the rapid rise in oil
           prices from causing a damaging surge of inflation, which allowed interest rates
           to remain lower than they otherwise would have been
        5. The new migrants are stereotypically hard-working, enthusiastic, skilled and
           flexible. This has exposed some shortcomings in the UK workforce. Some
           employers prefer to employ Poles as they have had the initiative and strength of
           character to leave home and travel to UK rather than a young Briton with little
           enthusiasm and few skills.

        Issues of concern:
    1. Some Polish migrants have been exploited by employers and employment agencies
       in UK. Although paid the minimum wage, some workers had large deductions made
       for accommodation, transport, food etc. which have reduced their earnings
    2. The broad geographical spread of Polish and other A8 migrants has brought large-
       scale migration to areas which have not experienced it before, creating
       misunderstandings and tensions. There have been isolated incidents of abuse and
       attacks on migrant workers. Eg in Northern Ireland where migrant workers had
       bricks thrown through windows of their homes as the protestants perceive the
       Poles for taking their jobs.

Addressing these concerns:
The Yorkshire Bank has launched a telephone service in Polish, Lloyds TSB opened a Polish branch in
Manchester, road signs in Polish have appeared in several areas, and the British community groups
have welcomed Polish visitors in an effort to improve understanding.
    o   It is too early to assess the full impact, and much depends on what percentage of
        the immigrants intend to stay permanently in the UK, indications are that most
        intend to return home, and many have already done so.
    o   There are both advantages and disadvantages, the balance seems to be much in
        favour of this immigration into the UK.
    o   As Britain’s economy has high growth, low employment and interest rates, the
        arrival of Poles and the rest seems an unequivocal bonus, helping to fill skill
        shortages, boosting productivity and creating new taxpayers.
    o   Closing doors to migrants won’t help, better training and education might.
Recent trends in the international migration in Asia and the pacific (2001 to date)
    o   To ensure development of country of origin is not affected, more dialogue between
        countries of origin and destination on issues like ethical hiring practices, protection
        of migrants rights and co operation must be carried out
    o   As of 2000, there were 49.9 million international migrants in Asia and 5.8 million in
        Oceania and a total of 175 million international migrants worldwide
    o   Excluding refugees, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates 22.1
        million migrant workers were economically active in Asia and 2.2 million in Oceania.
    o   This is due to regional integration and broader process of globalisation
    o   In the pacific, migration from the Pacific Islands to core countries, especially
        Australia and New Zealand, has been a recurrent pattern in the past decades.

    Work and talents in motion (1970s to present)
    o   Large scale labour migration from and within Asia is due to demand for workers in
        capital-rich but labour-short countries in the Gulf region in 1970s
    o   Initially labour migration to oil rich countries (eg. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE etc)
        involved mostly male workers.
    o   India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, Philippines and Thailand supplied
        workers for infrastructure projects in the Gulf countries.
    o   Among the sending countries, only the Republic of Korea became a labour receiving
    o   Indonesia and Sri Lanka secured the labour market for domestic workers which
        spurred feminization of migration in the Gulf region
    o   Domestic work provides the major source of employment for women migrants
    o   NIEs in East and South-East Asia resort to labour importation to sustain economic
    o   As their economies soared, NIEs faced labour shortage in sectors deemed
        undesirable by local population eg. Construction, manufacturing and
    o   As more local women entered paid labour market, families and households
        experienced shortage of care workers.
    o   These were solved by importing migrant workers
    o   Demand for domestic workers in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and
        entertainers increased feminization of migration
    o   Filipino women migrants dominate domestic work sector in East and South-East Asia
        and legal foreign entertainers in Japan
    o   Concentration of women in domestic work and entertainment sectors, which are not
        covered by national labour laws render migrant women vulnerable to abuse and
    o   Problems include violations of basic rights that threaten women’s safety and erode
        potential migration to promote a better life for migrants; and to act as vehicle for
        empowering migrant women
    o   In Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, women comprise 62-75% of workers legally
        deployment annually
    o   Thai women predominate those in irregular migration or those trafficked eg. For
        entertainment as past registration efforts did not include domestic workers
    o    In Philippines, women were as likely as men to take part in unauthorized migration
    o   In Indonesia, men were predominant in unauthorized flows to Malaysia
    o   Migrants in Thailand’s fishing, agriculture and manufacturing industries were mostly
    o   Unlike in Western Europe which had a guest worker programme, the system in Asia
        involved minimal government-to-government discussions
    o   Except for government regulation of migration matters, recruitment is left largely to
        private recruitment agencies
    o   The protection of workers rest on contracts signed between workers and their
        employees, giving rise to irregularities, abuse and exacting costs on migrants and
        their families
    o   Unauthorised migrants and trafficked persons are rendered more vulnerable
        because they are seen as immigration violators and have limited/no access to
        support and redress grievances
    o   Until 1990s, labour migration in Asia involved mostly less skilled workers.
    o   Since then, migration of highly skilled and professionals increased in response to
        greater demand especially for IT workers and healthcare workers by more
        developed countries
    o   Highly skilled workers migrated to countries of settlement but from 1990s non-
        settlement countries like NIEs in Asia started vying for those wanted workers
    o   They (Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore) do so by offering permanent
        residence, which do not allow settlement to less skilled foreign workers
    o   Demographic factors (declining population growth, ageing of population) , lifestyle
        factors (eg some jobs becoming undesirable like nursing), mobility of the highly
        skilled, increase the migration of the highly skilled.
    o   Families or individuals of countries of origin have been influenced what would be in
        demand hence high enrolment in “marketable courses” eg. Nursing and IT
    o   Demand for less-skilled workers would not diminish either in more developed
        countries where certain jobs are identified as migrants jobs (dirty, dangerous,
        demeaning jobs)
    o   In Gulf countries, private sector jobs have been largely relegated to migrants
    o   Some receiving countries ( eg Hong Kong, China) are working at improving work
        conditions to attract locals or sell the idea of self-reliance to persuade locals to take
        up migrants’ jobs
    o   To realize the goal of reducing number of migrant workers to 300 000- 500 000 by
        2015, government in Malaysia admit and attitudinal change is required to entice
        local population to work in plantations and other undesirable sectors

Estimates of labour migration: legal and unauthorized
    o   Women migrants are estimated at 2 million or 1/3 of the total 6.3 million legal Asian
        migrants working in East and South-East Asian countries (year 2000), (or 7.5 million
        if unauthorized workers were included)
    o   Compared to estimates around the 2000s, the share of unauthorized migrant
        workers has gone down from 34% to 16% of the migrant population in more recent
    o   The problem of unauthorized migration is serious in Malaysia, Thailand and Republic
        of Korea as they all drew up a migration policy after numerous migrants arrived,
        they share a border with other neighbouring countries, and their migrant
        populations tend to be dominated by one or two groups who usually come from
        neighbouring countries
    o   The legal status of migrant workers is not exactly fixed and unchanging, hence
        posing legal migration and unauthorized migration as a dichotomy has its
Migration systems and labours markets
o   In general, the configuration of origin countries, destination countries and labour
    markets employing migrants have not changed much over the years.
o   In South-East Asia, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand draw
    migrants mostly from within the region while the major countries of origin are the
    Philippines and Indonesia.
o   Philippines continues to have the largest and most diversified migration profile.
o   Philippines set a target to deploy 1 million workers abroad annually but have yet to
    achieve that
o   Vietnam, a new comer in labour migration, plans to expand its overseas
    employment programme, aiming to send 70 000 workers abroad in the near future.
o   Demand factors and policy changes in receiving countries could affect deployment
    levels. Eg Philippines eyeing increasing demands for health-care professionals and
    workers as a growth area, Japan’s move to tighten the requirements for entertainers
    may presage a reduction of this lucrative but controversial market.

Attempts to manage migration:

o   Malaysia, being the world’s second-largest long term undocumented migration flow,
    carried out serious measures to curb unauthorized migration from Indonesia and to
    diversify the source countries of its migrant workforce (70% Indonesian). Malaysia
    pushed through with crackdowns and deportations after 28 febuary 2005; violators
    face a maximum of 5 years in jail with fines up to RM 10 000 and 6 strokes of cane.
    They succeeded in reducing number of unauthorized Indonesians, but departure of
    migrants also created labour shortages in key sectors like construction and
o   Thailand also carried out deportations and crackdowns, and conducted a
    registration process, to regularize unauthorized migration and extend more
    protection to migrant workers. Some 1.27 million migrant workers were registered
    in 2004, highest so far since the Government started conducting registrations in
    1992. 814 247 obtained a work permit which would allow them to work in Thailand
    from 3 months to a year.
o   Republic of Korean passed a law setting in place a work permit system that would
    allow employers to recruit migrant workers from 1 August 2004, and also grants
    foreign workers basic rights (minimum wage, union membership, industrial accident
    insurance). This system is expected to address the country’s perennial problem with
    uncontrolled unauthorized migration and to protect migrant workers’ rights.
o   Japan aims to halve the number of overstayers (250 000) in the next 5 years. In May
    2004, the parliament passed an amendment to the Immigration and Refugee
    Recognition Act which increases fines for overstaying from 300 000 yen to 600 000
    yen and lengthens the ban in re-entering Japan to 10 years. Fears of Japan becoming
    a target by international terrorist were a contributing factor in the country’s decision
    to implement those measures. It is now a tier-2 country in the watchlist in 2005
    Trafficking in Persons Report by USA Department of State.
o   Taiwan’s concerns revolve around absconding workers and unauthorized migration
    from Mainland China. To address problem with runaways, Taiwan requires countries
    of origin to meet certain conditions and imposes a ban if the conditions are
o   East Asia, China are a source of unauthorized migration to western countries.
o   The cost of migration to USA or Europe has gone up as much to US$70 000, but this
    has not deterred aspiring migrants to take the risk.
   o   Owing to rising incomes in China, other countries have relaxed restrictions on
       Chinese travellers to take a crack at the Chinese tourist market.
   o   South Asia is a largely sending region compared to migration systems in East and
       South-East Asia, with the Middle East looming large as the primary destination of
       their nationals.
Permanent migration:
   o   Permanent migration from Asia to USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand
       increased since 1970s due to dismantling of immigration policies that used to favour
       people from European background.
   o   Immigration reforms in those countries enabled Asian immigrants to be admitted
       under family, skills or humanitarian categories.
   o   The increasing emphasis on skills of immigrants suggests how permanent migration
       is increasingly turning into a means of boosting their human resources. Eg Australia,
       immigrants selected based on skills increased from 29.2% in 1995-1996 to 62.3% in
       2003-2004 of total immigrant intake. Australia also introduced temporary work visa
       to increase its stock of skilled workforce.
   o    Offering permanent residence in receiving countries to foreign students who
       completed their training in the receiving countries can also increase pool of skilled
       workers. This transforms the country into a qualified labour migration and/or
       precursor of subsequent migrations, mainly human resource in Science and
   o   80% of foreign students are concentrated in 5 countries- Australia, USA, UK of Great
       Britain, Northern Ireland, Germany and France. Asia-pacific countries are important
       countries of origin of foreign students.
   o   For countries of origin, prospects of student migration turning into labour or
       permanent migration raises brain drain issues, which may offset potential
       contributions such as knowledge transfer and other benefits from this migration.
   o   In countries of settlement, there is a need to pay attention to accreditation and
       skills-recognition issues, which pose barriers to the labour force participation of
       professional immigrants. Those admitted under skills category don’t automatically
       practice their profession in countries of destination owing to accreditation
       requirements, leading to a lose-lose situation as countries of origin lose
       professionals (brain drain) and countries of destination do not gain from
       immigration of skilled people due to restrictions to practice their profession (unmet
       need). Immigrants are forced to work at jobs that are not on par with their training
       and experience (brain waste).
Refugee Migration:
   o   Afghan refugee crisis started in 1979, 6 million fled Afghanistan following soviet
       military intervention. Those who fled to Pakistan and Islamic Republic of Iran (3.1
       million) were stranded in those countries as new conflicts, the rise and fall of the
       Taliban, drought, and US-led invasions in 2001 intervened, resulting in either fresh
       refugee outflows or stalling return migration. The UNHCR started a repatriation
       programme covering a period of March 2002 to March 2006. The UNHCR, host
       Government, and Government of Afghanistan signed an agreement to facilitate the
       return of Afghan refugees. Other western countries also implemented assisted
       return programmes to encourage return migration. The fragile peace and order
       situation in Afghanistan, the lack of jobs, the lack of basic services and the
       challenges of re-building a war-ravaged country do not encourage return, or staying
       for good for those who had returned. Over 2.3 million have returned to Afghanistan
       with UNHCR’s assistance, but about three million have yet to make their journey
    o   In the mid-1990s, citizens from North Korea fleeing famine and repression in their
        homeland arrived in China (estimated from 100,000 to 300,000.) From 1999, an
        increasing number of North Koreans have managed to leave China (by first getting
        into foreign embassies) and thereafter finding refuge in the Republic of Korea. China
        found itself in a dilemma because it is a signatory to the 1951 United Nations
        Convention on Refugees yet, it has ties with North Korea. For China, the North
        Koreans are not refugees; those who have been caught were reportedly repatriated
        and met harsh punishment or death.
    o   Australia’s handling of the refugees who arrived on its shores, transiting through
        Indonesia, brought to the fore the debates on refugee protection versus abuse of
        the system by unauthorized migrants, as well as smugglers and traffickers. The
        arrival of on-shore asylum seekers from the late 1990s – many of whom were
        Afghans and Iraqis – led to more stringent actions by Australia, which viewed the
        arrivals as economic migrants, abetted by money-making smugglers and traffickers.
        Australia turned away boats suspected of carrying unauthorized migrants; imposed
        mandatory detention for arrivals, including children, while their refugee status was
        under review; and introduced the Pacific solution. Despite criticisms, the
        Government of Australia stuck to the mandatory detention policy, arguing that this
        was an effective deterrent to the smuggling of migrants or queue-jumping asylum
        seekers. Australia also sought cooperation with sending or transit countries to curb
        those irregular practices. It actively participated in regional discussions on
        unauthorized migration and trafficking, particularly the Bali Process.
    o   The need for migrant workers has expanded to the highly skilled/professional
        workers. While receiving countries welcome the highly skilled and professional
        migrants, they continue to be restrictive towards the less skilled, maintaining a no-
        settlement policy towards them.
    o   With persisting economic-demographic differentials and the routinization of labour
        migration, we are looking at a future where migration will continue to matter. The
        interdependence and integration that this implies for countries of origin and
        destination require bilateral and/or multilateral approaches to migration.
    o   Inviting the public to report on-line suspected irregular migrants, empowering
        community volunteers to arrest irregular migrants or prohibiting migrant workers
        from forming associations – all done in the name of national security – infringe on
        privacy, due process and the freedom to form associations. The climate, thus, has
        become more hostile to migrants, stoking perceptions of migrants as the dangerous
        “other”. Asylum-seekers, for example, have been adversely affected by the
        association of migrants (particularly unauthorized migrants) with terrorism.
Many aspects about persisting and emerging trends of international migration have social
        1. Migrants rights:
    o   Global Commission on International Migration regional hearing for Asia and the
        Pacific held in Manila from 17 to 19 May 2004: “Participants characterized the
        labour situation in many parts of Asia and the Pacific as one of ‘benign neglect’,
        where migrants often work in deregulated settings to the advantage of employers
        and host economies.
    o   Civil society, migrants’ NGOs, migrants’ associations and international organizations
        have been working to address this “tenuous” situation. The way forward involves
        extending migration policies to workers’ protection, guaranteeing basic conditions,
        notably, wages, working hours and days off, safety in the workplace, freedom to
        seek better wages/employers, and freedom to form associations.
    o   The conditions of migrant women in domestic work require particular attention and
        urgently demand that are ensured workers’ protection in this sector. Domestic work
    is the biggest source of employment for migrant women and will continue to draw
    migrant women in search of employment. International instruments aimed at
    protecting migrants are premised on government-to-government arrangements,
    which have limited relevance in the Asian context where the migration industry is a
    major player.
o   The role of migrants’ associations in articulating the migrant sector cannot be
    overemphasized; their capabilities must be strengthened and their representation
    must be part of multilateral dialogue and processes
    2. Migration and Development:
o   The consensus among countries of origin to continue promoting labour migration
    and plans to send more skilled migrants in the future seem to suggest that a “culture
    of migration” and dependency on overseas employment have established a foothold
    in those societies.
o   more developed economies will not only be drawing less skilled workers but also
    highly skilled and professional migrants from the less developing economies. This
    trajectory suggests the need for more dialogue between countries of origin and
    destination on such issues as ethical hiring practices, protection of migrants’ rights,
    and cooperation to ensure that the development prospects of origin countries are
    not jeopardized.
o   Another highly feminized migration is marriage migration. In Japan; Taiwan
    (especially so) and the Republic of Korea, international marriages between local men
    and women from other Asian countries have increased alongside the increase in
    labour migration. As of 2004, foreign spouses – mostly women from China and
    South-East Asia – were estimated at 300,000, or about half of the total foreign
    population of Taiwan. In Japan, as of 2002, the marriages contracted between
    Japanese men and other Asian women increased to 4.7 %of all registered marriages.
Thailand has actively participated in two-way exchanges of investment, technology, trade and
tourism associated
with the present era of globalization.
The scale of international migration has been increasing steadily at the global and regional
levels. A regional
labour market is emerging in some occupations in East and South-East Asia, and Thailand
participates both by
furnishing workers and generating demand for labour. International migration, particularly that
into Thailand,
is driven by the large disparities between the country and some of its neighbours in levels of
economic and
social development, and in political climate.
As of November 2004, there were about 1,000 asylum seekers in Thailand, mainly in
Bangkok, whose cases
were being considered by UNHCR, and another 3,600 “urban refugees” who had been
determined by UNHCR
to be valid refugees and for whom resettlement was being pursued.
In recent years, Thailand has deployed approximately 150,000 overseas contract workers per
year and has
received about US$ 1.5 billion per year in remittances through official channels.
In a major effort to regularize unauthorized migration, the Ministry of Interior registered
1,280,000 workers
from neighbouring countries in July 2004.
the numbers involved, it is clear that the movement of migrants into Thailand has become an
important business
in itself.
Many of the older children are believed to be
working without permission and often in exploitative situations.
Female domestic workers, whether registered or not, are particularly vulnerable to abuse and
because they work in isolation in individual homes. Thai law makes no provision for the rights
and labour
standards of domestic workers, irrespective of nationality.
Many studies have concluded that migrants are especially vulnerable to HIV infection
because of their isolation
from the local community, separation from their regular partners, their anonymity and their
lack of access to
health services and information. Migrants trafficked as sex workers and seafarers have been
identified as
particularly vulnerable groups.

In April 1999, Thailand hosted the International
Symposium on Migration, the topic of which was
“Towards regional cooperation on irregular/
undocumented migration”. Ministers and other
representatives of several Governments in Asia plus
Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea
participated in the Symposium, which adopted the
Bangkok Declaration on Irregular Migration. The
Bangkok Declaration calls for a comprehensive analysis
of the social, economic, political and security causes
and consequences of irregular migration in the
countries of origin, transit and destination. The
Declaration also encourages countries to pass
legislation to criminalize the smuggling of and
trafficking in human beings, especially women and
children, including as sources of cheap labour.
Countries are encouraged to strengthen their channels
of communication to resolve the problem of illegal
migration and trafficking.

Disparities in the level of economic development
and wage levels between Thailand and Cambodia,
the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and
Myanmar largely account for the desire of workers
from the neighbouring countries to find
employment in Thailand. The per capita gross
national product of Thailand is six times as great as
that of Myanmar, seven times that of the Lao People’s
Democratic Republic and 12 times that of Cambodia
(table 3).
Of course, economic factors are not the only ones
driving international migration. The lack of social
services, particularly education and health, as well
as uncertain economic and political environments
can also induce persons to migrate. Improved
transportation and communication infrastructure also
facilitates international migration (United Nations,
2002). For many, migration to Thailand has
become institutionalized by government policies,
local officials, employers and private-sector
recruitment agents. For less than 10,000 baht,
a migrant can be virtually guaranteed a safe crossing
of the border and transportation to an employer in

Thailand is not a party to the key international
conventions concerning international migration and its
domestic policy development is not comprehensive;
as a result, its migration policies and programmes are
marked by omissions and ambiguities.
Although Thailand has long been providing
sanctuary to groups fleeing conflict or political
repression in nearby countries, it has not signed
the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of
Refugees or its 1967 Protocol. Thai law does not
make provision for the categories “asylum seeker” or
“refugee”. In spite of these lacunae, the Thai
Government cooperates closely with UNHCR in
dealing with asylum seekers and, in practice, considers
the individuals whom UNHCR has registered as asylum
seekers or refugees to be “persons of concern to
UNHCR” and accords them protection.

The Thai Government has also been attempting to
regularize labour migration from neighbouring
countries by signing bilateral MOUs with them.
The Government signed the first of these MOUs with
the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic
Republic in October 2002. It also agreed to similar
MOUs with Cambodia in May 2003 and with
Myanmar in June 2003. Only preliminary steps
towards the implementation of these MOUs have been
taken, however.

Thailand has long been providing refuge to persons
fleeing conflict or political repression in nearby
countries. Following the establishment of the People’s
Republic of China in 1949 about 13,000 defeated
nationalist (Kuomintang) army soldiers and family
members made their way to Thailand, where they
were permitted to settle. Nine thousand of those
subsequently moved to Taiwan Province of China but
the others and their descendants continue to reside
in northern Thailand.
Thousands of Vietnamese fled to Thailand first
when warfare broke out between France and the Viet
Minh resistance movement following the Second
World War and second when the Democratic Republic
of Viet-Nam was established north of the 17th parallel
after the 1954 Geneva Accords. Those refugees and
their children in Thailand numbered 68,800 in 1959.
Between 1960 and 1964 about 34,750 Vietnamese
voluntarily returned to the Democratic Republic of
Viet-Nam but 36,000 remained in eastern Thailand,
more than half of whom had been born there
(Robinson, 1996:4-5).

Refugees, Asylum Seekers and
Displaced Persons1
Following the military rout of the Government of the
Republic of Viet-Nam in April 1975, approximately
158,000 Vietnamese made their way to Thailand as
refugees over the ensuing few years. During the
same period, 320,155 asylum seekers entered Thailand
from the former Laos (Amarapibal, Beesey and
Germershausen, 2003:229).
The Thai Government, UNHCR, the United
Nations Border Relief Operation (UNBRO), IOM and
NGOs cooperated to accommodate these refugees
and to resettle or repatriate them.
Between 1975 and
1992, more than 235,000 Cambodian refugees in
Thailand were resettled in third countries, including
150,000 in the United States (Robinson, 1996:159).
When stability returned, over 370,000 refugees were
repatriated to Cambodia from Thailand in late 1992
and early 1993, with UNHCR acting as the lead agency.

The increase in applications for asylum resulting
from a crackdown on illegal immigrants illustrates
the complementary nature of the migration
categories, as pointed out in chapter I. Migrants who
fear persecution or civil strife at home may be content
to be employed “registered migrants” or “irregular
migrants” if status in those categories is easy to obtain
and does not entail much risk. When migrants in
those categories are subject to deportation, however,
they are likely to apply for asylum and refugee status
in order to avoid it.

The social and economic impact of refugees, asylum
seekers and displaced persons in Thailand is limited,
especially relative to that of regular and irregular
migrants, because their numbers are smaller and
96 per cent of them (the displaced persons) are
ostensibly confined to camps. However, a population
totalling about 140,000 persons is clearly not without
Health services, including reproductive health, and
sanitation in the camps are provided by NGOs, which
in principle follow standards of the World Health
Organization (WHO). The camps provide both
in-patient and out-patient medical services. More
serious cases are referred to local hospitals.
There are concerns over the crowded conditions in
Tham Hin camp in Ratchaburi Province, fearing that
they lead to periodic health epidemics. The statistics
reported by the Bureau of Epidemiology reinforce this
concern. In September 2004, the rate of incidence
of diarrhoea equalled 22.7 per 1,000 population,
compared with 14.8 per 1,000 in all camps. The
incidence of malaria was 6.2 compared with 3.4 per
1,000 in all camps and that for STDs was 2.6 per
1,000 compared with the average of 0.9 per 1,000.
Of particular concern is the prevalence of dengue fever
in the Tham Hin camp. There was an outbreak of the
disease in April 2003. In September 2004, 64 cases
were reported, or 6.8 cases per 1,000 population. This
was the second most prevalent disease in the camp,
after diarrhoea. In contrast, the other eight camps
combined reported only two cases of dengue fever
that month.

In the border camps, education is provided in
schools run by the refugees themselves, with some
logistical support provided by NGOs. The NGOs
supply some school necessities, language training
(English, Karen, Burmese and Thai) and teacher
A drawback
of the education provided is that it does not extend
beyond tenth grade in most camps so that refugee
children face many obstacles in obtaining more
advanced education.
Although education is offered to all children in the
camps, its quality is limited by numerous factors. The
teachers are recruited from among camp residents,
provided training by ZOA Refugee Care (Netherlands)
and given a monthly subsidy of 500 baht. A visit to
the Ban Don Yang camp in Kanchanaburi Province
indicated that about 1,370 students receive instruction
in one large school building, without solid partitions
between classrooms.
Students who
complete tenth grade receive a certificate issued by
ZOA, but the certificate is not recognized by education
authorities in either Myanmar or Thailand.
As refugee children who do not speak Thai or English
face difficulties in gaining admission to public or
private schools, the Centre provides non-formal
education to newly recognized refugee children who
are awaiting enrolment in local schools. The Centre’s
English- and Thai-language courses are taught at the
primary level. Students wishing to take higher-level
language courses are encouraged to do so outside the
Centre nearer their homes in order to reduce travel
time and to minimize the possibility of arrest. The
Centre also offers courses in computers, electronics,
secretarial skills, hairdressing and dressmaking.

Refugee children
In this context,
separated children are defined as those under 18 years
of age who are separated from both parents or from
their previous legal or customary primary caregiver.
At the end of 2003, 1,997 separated children were
being actively monitored by the Catholic Office.
One reason for the
relatively high number of separated children in the
camps is the educational opportunities, which are
frequently better than those available in the area of
origin in Myanmar.
For example,
NGOs in Mae La camp in Tak Province offer teacher
training and curriculum development – courses not
available in other camps. UNHCR sometimes needs
to intervene with camp authorities to ensure that
children studying in another camp are not removed
from camp registers.
UNHCR made a systematic effort in 2003 to collect
information about the possibility of recruitment of
child soldiers in the camps and about the presence of
former child soldiers in or near the camps.
UNHCR worked with camp committees to
ensure that such children received protection within
the camps and would not return to military units in

Economic impact
The refugee and displaced persons population in
Thailand has relatively little impact on the host
economy because about 96 per cent of it resides in
the border camps. The camps would have small
positive and negative effects on the Thai economy.
The positive effects result from external assistance
coming into Thailand to assist the camp populations
and the purchase of camp supplies from Thai
companies. The negative impact would come from
the amount that the Thai Government must allocate
for its personnel to operate the camps and provide
security for them.
Although the presence of large camps may benefit
local businesses providing goods and services, the
camps can have a negative impact on the surrounding
environment. In January 2003, the population in the
camp at Ban Mai Nai Soi in Mae Hong Son Province
was relocated to Ban Pang Kwai camp, partially
because the refugees were blamed for illegal logging
near the former camp. The Mae Kong Kha camp in
Mae Hong Son Province is located in a national forest
reserve. In September 2002, heavy flooding and
mudslides killed many refugees and damaged
hundreds of houses. The Thai Government
subsequently relocated some of that camp population
to the Mae Ra Ma Luang camp. The environmental
impact of the camps for displaced persons would be
insignificant compared with those resulting from such
economic development activities as illegal logging,
and housing and business construction in those
The most significant economic impact of the camps
is borne by the displaced persons residing in them
owing to the fact that they are not permitted to work
legally. That means that the population of 135,000
has no regular means of income and is not gaining
useful work experience. The prolonged period
without employment or significant income must
hinder the ability of the displaced persons to return
and re-integrate successfully in Myanmar. The ban on
legal employment has more pernicious impacts as
well. The large numbers of unemployed persons
are natural targets for recruitment into armed
groups in Myanmar and for local employers
desiring labourers. As the work is illegal, the
employment situation can easily become exploitative.

Refugees who deliver
at home or in NGO medical facilities do not receive
a delivery certificate and, thus, are unable to apply
for a birth certificate.
Prior to May 2003, delivery certificates were not issued
for births occurring in the camps for displaced
persons. After prolonged negotiations between the
Government and UNHCR, MOI gave instructions to
issue delivery certificates for children born to
registered camp residents in Mae Hong Son, Tak,
Kanchanaburi and Ratchaburi provinces. Medical
NGOs in the camps are to issue the delivery certificate
and it is to be endorsed by district officials. Problems
remain in many cases, however. The MOI instruction
applies only to children born after 1 March 1999 and
only to registered persons in the camps. Thus, many
children born in the camps remain unable to receive
delivery and birth certificates.
Many children from the camps look for work outside
them in order to gain some monetary income for their
family. Boys and young men may find jobs in
agriculture or on fishing boats while many women and
girls work as domestic servants. Because it is not legal
for camp residents to be employed outside the camps,
they can easily enter exploitative work situations and
have no recourse. The families of children in
exploitative work situations are often reluctant to
report them because they need the income provided.
Because camp residents may not be employed
legally, they are vulnerable to being trafficked for
employment, with traffickers operating both within
and outside the camps. UNHCR is attempting to
gain more information about trafficking from the
camps in order to develop programmes to prevent,
raise awareness about, respond to and monitor such

Population profile
The migration of Thai nationals for overseas employment
increased rapidly during the early 1990s, from
63,200 workers officially deployed in 1990 to a peak
of 202,300 workers in 1995 (table 8).
The age range of Thais going overseas to work is
relatively broad, although about 56 per cent of them
are between the ages of 26 and 35 (table 9). The
great majority (82 per cent) are males and most have
low levels of education, although the average level of
education has been increasing in the recent past
(figure 1). Fifty-six per cent of Thai workers
deployed abroad officially in 2004 had only
a primary school education. However, the women
workers have higher levels of educational attainment.
For example, 46 per cent of the female workers had
completed at least lower secondary school or were
graduates, compared with only 34 per cent of the
males (table 10).
Taiwan Province of China is by far the major
destination of Thais migrating for employment, with
more than half of such workers going to that area
(figure 2). About 88 per cent of the migrants to

Regular Migration
Taiwan Province of China are males. Singapore is the
second most important destination and also attracts
mostly male workers (table 11).
Thailand has created a niche market for workers in
Israel and the occupied territories. In 2001, over
12,000 Thai workers (7 per cent of the total) were
deployed there. About 90 per cent of those workers
are males. The number of Thai workers being
deployed to Israel now exceeds the number deployed
to all other Middle Eastern countries combined.
The fourth and fifth most important destinations for
Thai workers are Brunei Darussalam and Hong Kong,
China (table 11). The latter is the only major
destination where the majority of Thai workers are
female. In 2001, nearly 90 per cent of the workers
deployed to Hong Kong, China were females, mostly
working as domestic servants.
Given the low educational levels of Thai workers
overseas, it is not surprising that they work in relatively
low-skilled occupations. Less than half of the workers
deployed were considered skilled workers.
Government policies
International labour migration from Thailand is
governed by the Recruitment and Job Seekers
Protection Act, B.E. 2528. The 1985 Act, amended
in 1994, covers recruitment for both local and
overseas employment. The Act does not prevent the
migration of any Thai national with proper travel
documents. Its main purpose is to regulate
recruitment so as to prevent the cheating or
exploitation of prospective migrants and to curtail
illegal migration. It also offers some protection to
workers after deployment in terms of their contracts
and wages.
Thai workers are sometimes
victimized by unscrupulous individuals or
companies recruiting them for overseas employment.
Sometimes fees are collected but the individual
or company disappears without providing overseas
employment. Often companies charge fees in excess
of those stipulated by the Government.
In 2003 the House Committee on Labour compiled
a list of 800 influential persons in the job placement
business, by province, for the Government to
investigate any dishonest or illegal activities. The
Chairman of the Committee estimated that the
“labour mafia” had cheated 43,807 Thai workers
of almost 2.3 billion baht between 1996 and 2002.
The dishonest practices were concentrated in the
north-eastern provinces (Bangkok Post, 2003).
Social and economic impact
Thais working overseas may encounter a number of
difficulties with their employment conditions or
remuneration. Sometimes the contract is changed by
the employer so that the worker receives lower wages
and other benefits.
Employers may not provide the
appropriate benefits or health-care services when
workers fall ill (IOM, 2003b:173-174).
While these violations are a cause for concern for the
Thai Government, the Government at the destination
and especially for the workers concerned, the vast
majority of workers deployed overseas find the
conditions and remuneration acceptable.
Apparently two main factors mitigate the effect of
family separation because of international migration.
First, families with members working overseas usually
receive remittances, which support the education and
well-being of children. Second, the extended family
in these Asian societies tends to assist in caring for
children of migrants and largely compensates for the
absence of a parent.

Population profile
Estimates of the number of foreign population residing
and working in Thailand, by their immigration
status, were presented in table 1 and discussed in the
first chapter.
MOL statistics are not disaggregated by sex but
women constitute a large majority of workers in
seafood processing and domestic services.
While large numbers of migrants from neighbouring
countries work in border provinces or
provinces on the coast, close to half (43 per cent)
of them work in Bangkok or provinces in the
Central Region (table 14 and map 2). The central
area attracts large numbers of migrants from each of
the three neighbouring countries. More workers from
the Lao People’s Democratic Republic are employed
in Bangkok than in any of the other regions, with the
Central Region being the second most important

Government policies
The International Convention on the Protection of the
Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their
Families, adopted by United Nations General Assembly
resolution 45/158 of 18 December 1990, entered into
force on 1 July 2003. Of the 30 countries that have
ratified, or acceded to, the Convention, only three are
from the Asia-Pacific region: the Philippines, Sri Lanka
and Tajikistan. In addition, Bangladesh has signed,
but not yet ratified, the Convention (Piper and Iredale,
2004:1). Although Thailand has not signed the
Convention, it has recently actively taken steps at
the national, bilateral and regional levels to strengthen
its control and management of migration. Those
steps represent considerable accommodation and
regularization of labour migration between Thailand
and three of its neighbours, as described in the
following sections.
Although, in principle, the process of registering the
migrant population and issuing work permits is
designed to enable Thai nationals to be offered
employment in jobs they would accept, in practice,
little attention is devoted to attracting Thais to
the jobs being filled by migrant workers. In the
registration process, employers were first asked to
indicate the number of jobs they wanted to fill with
migrant workers. Nationwide, employers requested
to employ 1.6 million foreign workers; provincial
committees set up to evaluate the requests granted
quotas totalling 1.5 million. In fact, employers
then registered fewer than 1.3 million migrants with
MOI, and they had applied for only 814,000 work
permits in the first 51/2 months of the registration

Social impact
Health, education and family status
It is widely perceived in Thailand that migrants,
particularly from Myanmar, have diseases that have
Regular Migration
been eradicated or are rare in Thailand and, therefore,
pose a public health risk. It is also believed that
migrants place a burden on government hospitals near
the border by using services for which they are not
able to pay. Before applying for a work permit,
migrants are required to undergo a medical
examination that tests for tuberculosis, leprosy,
elephantiasis, syphilis, drug addiction, alcoholism and
pregnancy. Of approximately 817,000 migrants who
underwent the medical examination in the second half
of 2004, a total of 9,532 (1.2 per cent) tested positive
for one of the diseases but would be allowed to work
if treated (based on statistics provided by MOL).
Among these, 5,399 had tuberculosis and 3,092 had
syphilis. Another 809 persons (1 per 1,000) were
found to have a contagious stage of one of the
diseases and would not be allowed to work. For these,
the Government should provide medical care but also
deport them.

The main obstacle to receiving medical care that
migrants face is that they are not permitted to be
away from their jobs. Most employers make no
provision for sick leave; if a worker is absent the wages
for the day are not paid. Workers in town may be
able to seek medical care after work hours, although
that can also be difficult when working 12 hours or
more a day. Domestic workers and agricultural
workers generally live at their place of employment
and are often not allowed to be away elsewhere.
Language differences often serve as a barrier to
communication between Thai health workers and
migrant clients, and hospital forms are generally
available only in the Thai language.

Education for migrant children and the children of
migrants is a particularly troublesome aspect of
cross-border migration to Thailand. There were
93,000 persons under age 15 among persons who
registered as migrants with MOI in July 2004.
Included among those were 63,000 children from
Myanmar who were under age 12. They accounted
for 6.9 per cent of the number of persons from
Myanmar who registered with MOI, a much higher
percentage than among migrants from Cambodia
(3.3 per cent) or the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
(2.7 per cent). Persons who are registered have
a right, in principle, to social services in Thailand,
including attending local public schools.

Domestic workers
Female migrant domestic workers are particularly
vulnerable to exploitation and abuse because they
often work in isolation and are not covered by
labour regulations. During 2004, approximately
129,000 persons applied for work permits as domestic
servants and it must be assumed that nearly all of
them were women (table 13). If unregistered
migrants are taken into account, the number of
foreign women employed as domestic workers may be
between 150,000 and 200,000. About two thirds of
them are from Myanmar and one quarter from the Lao
People’s Democratic Republic (table 13). Although the
majority of the migrant domestic workers probably
currently possess work permits, prior to July 2004
Panam and others (2004:3) estimated that only one
third of the migrants in Thailand were registered. This
proportion was probably lower for domestic workers.
Although domestic workers may hold work permits,
their situation remains precarious because of the lack
of legal protection.

Economic impacts
The impact of international labour migration on
Thailand and its neighbouring countries occurs
through the contribution to production made by
the workers; the wages the workers earn; the
amount of money remitted to countries of origin;
and the fees paid for registration, border crossings
and sending remittances.
Migrant workers make a significant contribution to
economic growth in Thailand in that there may be
between 1.2 million and 2.3 million such workers
(including unregistered migrants and visa overstayers)
employed in the country. While their wages are low,
their impact on the economy is valuable because
many of the migrants help to produce or process items
for export, such as agricultural products, seafood and

Migrant workers support the industry that enables
them to travel to Thailand, to be authorized to
work and to send remittances, with high fees at
every step. Reports on the amounts paid to travel
from Myanmar to a destination in Thailand vary from
5,000 to 10,000 baht. Usually the migrants pay an
agent to bring them across the border and to deliver
them to their destination. Alternatively, an employer
may pay an agent to deliver an agreed number of
workers. The employer then recovers the cost by
deducting the payment from the migrants’ wages. At
5,000 baht per person, the estimated 1.4 million
foreign workers in Thailand paid a total of 7 billion
baht to enter Thailand and to find employment.
If the average cost is 10,000 baht per person
(as reported by some migrants), the migrants now in
Thailand would have paid a total of 14 billion baht.
Thus, the recruitment and transport of migrant
workers is a business worth approximately 10 billion
baht. While the business is well established and
operates rather routinely, it is technically illegal. The
great majority of migrants cross at border checkpoints
Regular Migration
without permission to stay in Thailand. Technically,
they are being smuggled into the country but there
is nothing clandestine about the operation.

Thus, recruiting and facilitating the movement of
migrant workers to Thailand has become a lucrative
business. However, because much of it is informal and
unregulated, it gives many indications that it is
exploiting the migrants.

International migration provides an opportunity, albeit
one associated with many risks, for Thai workers and
for those in neighbouring countries with relatively low
levels of education and skills to earn considerably more
than they could at home. Because most Thai nationals
migrating abroad for employment have a low level of
education, they work primarily in low-skill and
low-wage occupations. Most of the male workers
are employed in some type of manufacturing.
While many of the female migrants also work in
manufacturing, the largest single occupational
category for women is service work, primarily as
domestic workers.
The number of Thai nationals officially deployed
overseas for employment has fallen steadily from
202,000 in 1999 to about 150,000 in 2003, owing
to increased competition from more populous
countries that supply low-wage labour and because of
greater regulation of labour migration in Thailand and
in destination countries. In spite of the reduced
volume of migration, it still remains a valuable channel
for individuals to improve their earnings and for
their families and communities to benefit from
remittances. Thai workers overseas still remit close to
US$ 1.5 billion per year through official channels.
In spite of often-harsh working conditions and
discriminatory treatment, approximately 1.2 million
workers from Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic
Republic and Myanmar are currently registered with
MOI as migrants in Thailand. There could be as many
as another 700,000 foreigners working in Thailand if
one takes into account an unknown number of
persons from these three neighbouring countries who
have not registered with MOI and the number of
persons from other countries who have overstayed
their entry visas (table 1).

Research from many parts of the world has
indicated that some community-level
trafficking interventions that appear successful
may simply lead to the problem appearing
elsewhere. Rescue and repatriation programmes
can also be subject to this problem,
as without measures to stop those who had
placed the victim in an exploitative situation,
the rescued victim is likely to be replaced by
another trafficked person.
_ The causes of trafficking are wide-ranging.
They include poverty, lack of education, lack
of awareness and gender-based discrimination,
but can also include civil conflict
and consumerism.
_ Because of wide disparities in income among
the countries in the Mekong subregion,
trafficking cannot be addressed on the supply
side alone; efforts to reduce demand are also
_ Effective law enforcement requires better
support for victims because they are essential
as witnesses in criminal prosecutions.
_ Trafficking is not only for prostitution but also
for sweatshop labour, domestic work, fishing,
plantation work, begging, forced marriage
and adoption.
_ Men    are also trafficked for many of these
_ Evidence has shown that tighter migration
controls, rather than reducing trafficking,
push migrants into more organized and
dangerous forms of migration, placing them
at greater risk.
Irregular Migration
_ Enforcing labour standards reduces trafficking
demand. Demand for trafficked labour is
virtually absent in sectors where labour
standards covering working hours, health,
safety and wages are well established,
monitored and enforced.
_ Different responses are required for women
and children. Combining women and
children into one group in discussions,
statistics and programmes tends to underestimate
women’s abilities to make major life
choices, while overlooking the special needs
of children.
_ It is difficult to develop project impact
indicators for trafficking because of variations
in definitions; it is a clandestine activity, the
mechanisms for data collection are absent;
and impact may be measured too narrowly.

Cross-border programme interventions may be
especially successful in tackling the prevention of
HIV and the promotion of developmental activities
among migrant populations. The Program for
Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), with the
support of NGOs, WHO and the Global Fund to Fight
AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, initiated a project
called “Promdan” in 2000. PATH had found that
many of the migrants in Rayong Province on the
eastern coast of Thailand came from Prey Veng
Province in Cambodia. The project links origin
communities with the migrant communities in
Thailand. The first phase of the project (2001-2002)
consisted of interventions aimed at increasing
individual knowledge and skills in the prevention of
sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS,
and assessment of the risks of migration. The second
phase (2003) focused on livelihood and social wellbeing
improvements at five levels: the individual, the
family, communities in both countries, organizations
in both countries and regional networks. In the third
phase (2004-2007), the project intends to integrate
the project’s strategies into various phases of migration
(pre-departure, sojourn, return and re-integration)
while promoting savings and useful investment in the
origin community (Kantayaporn, 2005).
UNESCO Bangkok has developed radio soap opera
programmes in minority languages, intended to
reduce trafficking in humans, HIV/AIDS and drug
abuse. The pilot programme was produced and
broadcast in northern Thailand for both home listeners
and cross-border minority peoples in northern Lao
People’s Democratic Republic, northern Myanmar
and south-western China. Since 2003, UNESCO
Bangkok has expanded the radio soap opera
activities to production and broadcast in the Lao
People’s Democratic Republic and Yunnan Province of
UNESCO has also established the Clearing House on
Preventive HIV/AIDS Education for the Greater Mekong
Subregion. UNESCO Bangkok has also used the
geographic information system which was initially
established to monitor human trafficking in highland
villages in northern Thailand (described in the above
section on trafficking) in order to monitor trends in
HIV infection in Thailand at the district level (UNESCO,
In January 2005 the ILO/IPEC office in Bangkok
announced that its Mekong Sub-regional Project to
Combat Trafficking in Children and Women had
launched a series of partner-driven programmes to
fight human trafficking in the provinces of Chiang Rai,
Chiang Mai and Phayao (ILO press release, 17 January
2005). Although aimed largely at preventing
trafficking of women and children from those
provinces, the Project should also assist in reducing
international trafficking by measures to address the
demand for trafficked individuals.
At the global level, IOM has signed a cooperation
framework with UNAIDS. The organizations cooperate
in the areas of advocacy, capacity-building,
mainstreaming of HIV/AIDS and dissemination of
research and information (IOM, 2004d).

Most of the Thai nationals working in an irregular
status overseas departed Thailand and entered the
destination country legally. Their status became
irregular only if they overstayed their visa or took
employment not permitted by their visa. Some have
entered the destination with a valid employment visa
but changed jobs without authorization. Because of
the irregular nature of such employment, no reliable
data exist from which to estimate the number of Thai
nationals working overseas or even to determine the
trend in the number. Most of those in an irregular
status chose to follow an unofficial route to overseas
employment because it was faster and required less
documentation. Wages for irregular employment are
often higher than for regular employment. A small
number of persons, mostly women, migrate in debt
bondage because they lack the resources to pay for
their own transport and placement costs.
Because the Thai Government regularized much of the
labour migration to Thailand during 2004 through
registration of migrants by MOI and the issuance of
work permits by MOL, an ironic result has been that
less is now known about unregistered workers than
was the case before. The fact that the number of
detentions of unregistered migrants declined
substantially following the registration process implies
that a high percentage of migrants in the country had
registered. Reliable estimates of the number of
unregistered migrants in the country are not available.
The estimates offered are no more than speculation
without a scientific basis.
All such estimates are a multiple of 100,000, however,
which means that even the low estimates imply
a cause for concern for many reasons. As the
registration carried out by MOI was at no cost to the
migrant, an understanding of why some migrants did
not register would be useful. The unregistered
migrants are in a vulnerable position from many
perspectives. They are illegal immigrants, subject to
arrest and deportation. They do not have health
insurance or access to health care except that for
which they can pay out of pocket. The children of
irregular migrants do not have access to government
schools, and it is believed that very few of them are
receiving any form of education.
Many of the older migrant children are no doubt
working. If they are under age 15, their employment
is illegal. While Muntarbhorn (2003:17) argues that
all workers are covered by the Labour Protection Law
of 1998, irrespective of whether or not they are
registered, in practice, the authorities will not enforce
labour standards for unregistered workers. Any
attempt to file a complaint would most likely meet
with arrest.
Another group among the irregular migrants that is
in a vulnerable situation consists of domestic workers
(mostly housemaids). Thai labour law makes no
provision for labour standards for domestic workers,
Thai or foreign, but foreign workers are especially
vulnerable. In a study of domestic workers from
Myanmar, Panam and others (2004) reported that
such workers feared arrest and harassment from local
authorities. Eighty per cent of them worked at least
12 hours a day, 85 per cent earned under 3,000 baht
per month and only 30 per cent had a private room
for their accommodation. Most had poor access to
health services because their employers were reluctant
to allow them to leave the house and most employers
required the workers to pay for their own medical
Irregular Migration
The migrant workers who are most vulnerable are
those who have been trafficked for employment.
Studies appear to indicate that only low percentages
of those trafficked have been subjected to threats or
coercion while being recruited in their home country
or during transport to Thailand. In most cases the
coercion and exploitation occur at the time of
recruitment or employment in Thailand. One study
that made a systematic attempt to measure coercion
and deception (WVFT/ARCM, no date) among migrant
workers in Thailand found that 5.3 per cent reported
being forced into prostitution and another 5.8 per
cent reported doing forced labour, working like
a slave, or being sexually exploited. When these
percentages are applied to the 1,280,000 registered
migrants alone, they imply at least that tens of
thousands of the migrant workers in Thailand
have been trafficked, including being forced into
Because, for most of the migrants who have been
trafficked for employment, the coercion that defines
such migration as trafficking occurs in the workplace,
better enforcement of labour standards would be
expected to reduce the demand for trafficked workers.
Stricter immigration controls are likely to push
migrants into more organized and dangerous forms
of migration. It is essential that strategies to prevent
trafficking in humans take into account the gender
aspects of the practice. In order for livelihood
interventions to prevent trafficking to be effective, they
must, at a minimum, offer opportunities that are
competitive in terms of earnings and working
conditions, and be sustainable.
Research has demonstrated that migrant workers are
often particularly vulnerable to HIV infection, although
studies on the actual prevalence of HIV among
migrants are few. Strategies to prevent HIV infection
among migrants and to provide protection to those
with HIV must be tailored to specific work
environments. Such strategies should involve
employers and NGOs, and use a variety of channels
for communication that is culturally specific.
While the issue of nationality for residents in Thailand,
including the system of coloured cards for permanent
residents, is, strictly speaking, not a migration issue,
it does emphasize some of the outcomes that are
to be expected when migration is not placed in
a comprehensive policy framework and managed
accordingly. An examination of the nationality issue
suggests many parallels with international migration
and highlights warning signals.
It is likely that significant numbers of the more than
1.3 million migrants in Thailand will want to remain
in the country indefinitely, given the lack of economic
opportunities and civil rights in their own countries.
Current policies and practices do not accord full rights
to migrants, including such basic rights as education,
movement and free association. The lack of rights for
migrant workers often leads to abuse, exploitation and
trafficking. In addition, some of these tensions were
exhibited in the treatment of migrant workers in the
aftermath of the tsunami that affected several southern
provinces in December 2004.

It is known that 93,000 persons under age 15
registered with MOI in 2004 and were deemed
ineligible to apply for work permits. Essentially
nothing is known about that group, however, except
that the proportion under age 11 years is higher
among migrants from Myanmar than among migrants
from the other two neighbouring countries and that
there are slightly more females than males in the age
group 12-14. In order to formulate appropriate
policies and to provide needed social services, it would
be essential to know more about the situation of these
children. It would be necessary to know the numbers
of those children who are studying in either formal or
informal schooling. It would be necessary to know
how many of the children are working, albeit illegally,
by type of employment.
There are no data on the compliance with labour
regulations by employers of migrant workers because
MOL inspects a workplace only if a complaint has
been filed. As foreign workers are not permitted
to form labour unions, there is no mechanism to
assess and seek redress for violations of contracts
or labour regulations.
1. Trends in Migration
Since the Cairo Conference, much has happened
in the world to influence migration
patterns and recast the environment in which
people migrate. After several years of uninterrupted
prosperity, profound economic crises
hit the economies of East Asia in 1997-1998,
followed by the United States (US) in 2001, and
Europe soon thereafter. From the mid 1990s
onward, the global community has suffered from
the repercussions of extraordinary humanitarian
crises and emerging threats to global security.
Millions of individuals have been indiscriminately
slaughtered, raped, brutalized and displaced due
to conflicts around the world, including those
in Rwanda, Timor-Leste, Kosovo, Sierra Leone,
Sudan, Burundi, Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq and
the occupied territories of the ongoing Israel-
Palestinian conflict. In addition, one set of events,
the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September,
2001, have led to a tightening of immigration
laws, particularly in the US, and a renewed skepticism
towards migrants.

All of these factors are affecting human mobility.
Between 1990 and 2000, the number of
migrants in the world increased by 14 per cent,
and the 175 million migrants in the world are
projected to reach 230 million by 2050. While
South-South migration persists, more migrants
are moving from developing to developed
regions with an annual average of 2.4 million
migrants moving from the less developed to the
more developed areas. Currently, 60 per cent
of migrants live in the more developed regions,
where migrants make up almost one in every 10
Between 1990
and 2000, net immigrants represented 89 per
cent of the population increase in Europe.3

Growing Scope and Complexity
The effects of the globalization process facilitate
human mobility by providing easy access to
information about life and opportunities abroad,
low cost travel, and quick communication with
diaspora family members.
In addition, migration patterns are more complex.
It is no longer possible to draw a simple trajectory
between points of departure and arrival of
migrants or to classify countries and their migration
priorities into just one of these three categories;
States are exhibiting the characteristics
of countries of origin, transit and destination with
implications in terms of how they perceive and
address migration issues.

Women Migrants
There has been a steady increase of female migrants
over the last five decades.
to the ILO, women now constitute more than
half of the migration population worldwide and
between 70 and 80 per cent of the migration
    population in some countries.4 While migration
    can lead to female empowerment this does not
    always occur. Women’s opportunities to migrate
    legally have been more limited than men’s often
    because legal, official recruitment efforts are
    frequently aimed at male-dominated employment
    in construction and agriculture.
    They often work in gender-segregated
    and unregulated sectors of the economy,
    such as domestic work and entertainment and
    sex industries.

Demographic Shifts
With declining fertility rates and ageing populations
in developed countries, there is greater
demand for younger workers from abroad to
sustain their economies. The contrast can be
illustrated by the following example: population
growth in the 15 Member States of the
European Union (EU) was 300,000 for 2003;
in India, it took just seven days for a similar
population increase of 294,000! 5 In addition,
Japan and some of its neighbours in East and
Southeast Asia are leading Europe as rapidly
ageing countries. Interacting with these demographic
trends in the developed world are the
population pressures and poverty of developing
countries, which will add 700 million young
     people to their labour force in the next decade.
Irregular Migration
Although precise figures on irregular migration
remain elusive, irregular migration, like
legal migration, is on the rise. According to
IOM, people who have migrated without proper
authorization account for one third to one
half of new entrants into developed countries,
which is an increase of 20 per cent over the
past 10 years.7
Estimates suggest that in the US,
where the population totals approximately 294
million,8 the total number of irregular migrants
is as high as 12 million. The EU, home to approximately
454 million,9 is estimated to host
500,000 irregular migrants each year.10

Smuggling and Trafficking
Smuggling and
trafficking are major criminal enterprises that
fuel and enable irregular movement of persons.
Such groups have thrived and have
been able to create sophisticated channels of
irregular migration because of the demand for
illegal commodities. Until the entry into force of
the Convention against Transnational Organized
Crime in 2003, the sanctions for traffickers and
smugglers in human beings were low relative to
other forms of international criminal activity.
Smuggling and trafficking presently constitute
the third largest source of profits, for international
organized crime, behind drugs and guns.
According to recent estimates, between 600,000 and 800,000
persons are trafficked across borders annually.12
The most likely victims of trafficking are women
and children.

Migration and Health
Increasing levels of migration have engendered
a new focus on migrants’ health. Migrants can
suffer from health and reproductive health (RH)
problems associated with nuclear disasters (ex.
Chornobyl), or natural calamities such as earthquakes,
droughts and floods. Migrants also may
be exposed to health risks relating to the migration
process; trafficking victims, for example often
experience long-term physical and psychological
afflictions. And, due to legal, procedural,
linguistic and other barriers, migrants often face
difficulties in obtaining access to health services
Many countries
have been successful in containing and
eliminating diseases through strong detection
and treatment programmes. Nevertheless, infectious
diseases constitute a significant and
growing threat, due in part to rapid and diverse
population movements and the lengthy incubation
periods associated with some infectious
diseases. For example, according to the World
Health Organization (WHO), 2003 was marked
by the largest number of countries with populations
suffering from polio due to importation
of the disease, a phenomenon which translated
into costs exceeding 20 million USD in
“emergency mop-up activities.”13 In addition,
there are significant and growing concerns
related to migration and diseases such as,
Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome/Acquired
Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), tuberculosis,
and hepatitis B, and diseases transmitted
through insects and animals such as the
West Nile virus and Mad Cow disease.

2. Developments in Migration Policy:
  National, Regional and International
Legislation: On the legislative front, many
countries have signed international legislation
addressing migration issues, such as the
ILO Conventions No. 97 and 143 and Migrant
Workers Convention (MWC) (1990). However,
integrating their provisions into national legislation
and ensuring compliance is proving to be
more difficult.
Structures : In terms of structures, for many
countries around the world, migration offices
constitute a new bureaucratic development.
Other structures also have emerged. For example,
due to the grave challenges posed by
human trafficking, many countries are adopting
national action plans to counter trafficking,
which include anti-trafficking units.
Training: A growing number of actors offer support
to countries in strengthening their migration
systems. Importantly international organizations,
including IOM, ILO and UNHCR, are providing
technical support, operational assistance, and
research on migration issues. NGOs also are
becoming key players in countries’ abilities to
address their migration challenges.

Regional Consultative Processes on Migration
(“RCPMs”): Over the past decade, countries
have been participating in non-binding regional
consultative fora. These have brought countries,
international organizations and NGOs together
to discuss migration issues in a cooperative
manner. The first such forum was established
in 1985, known as the “IGC” for Europe, North
America and Australia.15 Since that time, a number
have emerged in most regions of the world
including Northern and Central America through
the “Puebla Process,”16 in Asia through the
“Manila Process,”17 in Southern Africa through
the “Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa
(MIDSA) Process,”18 and in Europe with the
“Budapest Process.”19
As discussed in an IOM publication on this issue,
RCPMs are conducive to constructive discussions
in part because of their:
Informality- they are processes, not institutions,
meaning that working toward an eventual fi nal
goal is an important aspect of the process;
Openness- since agreement on all issues
is not required, all options can be explored
openly, thus increasing the number of possible
solutions to issues; and
Efficiency- since there is a minimum level of
administration, direct communication is more
easily possible between high level offi cials and

At the international level, new initiatives to
strengthen countries’ dialogue, cooperation
and ultimately understanding of migration have
emerged, and are yielding concrete results.
Importantly, UN World Conferences
also have addressed migration issues, most notably
     of course, the ICPD in 1994.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA):            30
UNFPA supports activities relating to the collection
of data on migration and policy-oriented
studies on international migration.
In 2001-2002, UNFPA funded
IMP’s regional “Migration Data and Definitions
Projects” to assist governments in strengthening
their capacity to gather and analyze migration
data. This was achieved in part through
the use of the Recommendations of Statistics
on International Migration, Revision 1 (1998).
The Projects also facilitated data dissemination
between countries in the region. UNFPA also
funds IMP’s CRS.
International Migration Policy Programme (IMP):
Largely inspired by the ICPD PoA, IMP was created
in 1998 as a global inter-agency activity for
government capacity building and cooperation.
UNITAR, IOM, UNFPA and ILO are its co-sponsoring
partners and other relevant global and
regional organizations participate in its activities,
which include mainly organizing regional intergovernmental
meetings on migration priorities.
Within a period of six years, IMP activities have
benefi ted some 850 senior and middle level government
offi cials from 125 developing and
transition countries.
UN World Conferences
International Conference on Population and Development
(ICPD): Of course, the first attempt
to institutionalize international cooperation on
migration was initiated through the convening of
the ICPD and Chapter X of its PoA. This document
offers a comprehensive set of guidelines
for national and international action in the field of
international migration policy, management and
cooperation. Still today, Chapter X constitutes
the single global blueprint outlining how States
and concerned international institutions should
address the multiple causes, consequences and
long-term implications of international migration
and human displacement.32

The MDGs and Migration
In September 2000, all Member-States of the UNGA adopted a global development agenda
at the Millennium Summit in New York. The resulting MDGs, are inextricably linked to
as their fulfi lment both impacts and is impacted by efforts to effectively manage migration.
The eight MDGs are the global community’s commitment to:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development
In order to devise a strategy for achieving the MDGs by the target date of 2015, the UN
Secretary-General, with the support of the UN Development Programme, launched the
Millennium Project. The Project draws on the expertise of policy makers, academics, and
practitioners from both developed and developing countries to review existing practices,
analyze policy options, and evaluate fi nancing options. Moreover, since 2004, the Project
has been working to implement 3- to 5- year poverty reduction strategies in the following
countries: Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal,
Tajikistan and Yemen.
Source: Millennium Project Information Material at [
The “Berne Initiative:” In June 2001, the Swiss
Government, in cooperation with other entities,
launched what is known as the “Berne Initiative,”
a States-owned consultative process with the
goal of obtaining better management of migration
at the regional and global levels through
cooperation between States. It is intended to
enable governments from all world regions to
share their different policy priorities and identify
their longer-term interests in migration, and offers
the opportunity of developing a common
orientation to migration management based on
notions of cooperation, partnership, comprehensiveness,
balance and predictability.42

Civil Society
The International Metropolis Project: Launched
in 1996 by Citizenship and Immigration Canada,
Metropolis consists of a set of coordinated
activities carried out by a membership of research,
policy and NGOs, which share a vision
of strengthened migration policy by means of
applied academic research. The Metropolis
members are now from over 20 countries and
a number of international research, policy, and
intergovernmental organizations, representing a
wide range of policy and academic interests. The
underlying idea is that the members will work
collaboratively on issues of immigration and integration,
always with the goal of strengthening
policy and thereby allowing societies to better
manage the challenges and opportunities that
immigration presents. To this end, Metropolis
has: stimulated and funded empirical research on
important policy issues, some of it international
and comparative; organized major international,
national and regional conferences on migration
issues, involving representatives from policy, research
and civil society; organized highly focused
seminars, round tables and workshops; and
disseminated research results and policy discussions
in the Metropolis publication, The Journal
for International Migration and Integration, and in
     other print and electronic media.U
     3. Migration and Development                        RL:

Migrant Remittances
52Broadly speaking, remittances are private
transfers of money from migrants to family
members in the countries of origin. While the
average size of an international remittance may
be quite modest, when added up, the hundreds
of thousands of transfers occurring every month
reflect significant amounts of capital being
transferred from developed countries to the developing
Thus, remittance
transfers are having a profound impact on the
quality of life of millions of poor households in
Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East,
and experts generally agree that remittances
are one of the key aspects of the migration and
development linkage.
The World
Bank recently estimated that the global annual
flow of remittances to developing countries in
2002 was 88 billion USD.53 Remittances are
estimated to have exceeded 90 billion USD in
2003, although actual figures are much higher
when informal transfers are taken into account.
This implies that remittances exceed Official
Development Assistance (ODA) and constitute
the largest single source of financial flows
to developing countries after Foreign Direct
Investment (FDI), in some cases even exceeding
FDI flows in many countries.
In 2002, some of the biggest receivers of remittances
were India (11.5 billion USD), Mexico (6.5
billion USD), Philippines (6.4 billion USD), Egypt
(3.7 billion USD) and Morocco (3.3 billion USD).
In addition to their sheer volume, remittances
manifest several other key characteristics which
make them interesting as a development tool,
Stability: Remittance flows have been characterized
by experts as “counter-cyclical” in nature,
meaning that they appear to be less vulnerable
to economic up and down turns than other
sources of external funding, such as FDI, ODA

and capital market flows.
Growth: Global remittance flows are increasing
in tandem with growing migration. Because of
more global migration caused by persisting income
inequalities between origin and destination
countries, increasing temporary migration, greater
South-South migration, easier and lower cost
travel and other factors related to globalization,
remittances are projected to continue to increase
well into the foreseeable future
Lastly, remittances are unilateral transfers that
do not create liabilities unlike other types of
financial flows such as debt and equity flows.
Also, unlike foreign aid, remittances go directly
to the people who need them and to whom they
were directed without any intervening and costly

Poverty and Development Impacts
Emerging empirical evidence suggests that
remittances have significant impacts on poverty
and potentially also on long-term economic
development. In a study of 74 low and middle income
developing countries, the World Bank has
demonstrated a statistically significant correlation
between remittances and declines in poverty.56
Specifically, the study found that a 10 per cent
increase in the share of remittances in a country’s
GDP leads to a 1.2 per cent decline in poverty.
According to the ILO, remittances constitute up to
90 per cent of household income for recipients in
Senegal, and more than half of household income
for recipients in Bangladesh.58
Beyond significant poverty alleviation effects
in the developing world, remittances play a life
sustaining role in post-conflict settings where
migrants’ families with little or no other sources
of income depend on them for their survival. In
places like Somalia and Somaliland—recipients
of an estimated 1 billion USD a year59—remittances
have been critical in averting complete
humanitarian disasters.
At the individual and family levels, remittances
enhance economic security and well-being
of the poor by providing critical resources for
spending on immediate subsistence needs such
as food and shelter, as well as improved healthcare,
education and housing. Remittances also
provide income for investment; they support
purchases of land, entrepreneurial activities and
savings which in turn have stimulating effects
on local and national economies. At the national
level, remittances increase foreign exchange
receipts, finance imports and improve national
credit ratings.
Maximizing Benefits: Governments have long
recognized the benefits of remittances and have
encouraged remittance flows through proactive
legislative and regulatory policies. For instance,
governments have adjusted their foreign exchange
and other financial sector regulations,
and have provided a variety of incentives such as
tax breaks, investment options and preferences
on land purchases to stimulate flows.
Despite the advantages of formalized remittances,
migrants often face particular challenges
in accessing financial institutions. Host
country regulations often impose cumbersome
requirements relating to proof of identity and
domicile (“know your customer” rules) which
in many cases prevent migrants, even those
with valid status, from opening bank accounts
or using other formal transfer services. Recent
money laundering and anti-terrorist legislation in
western countries have made migrant access to
formal financial institutions even more difficult.
Some initiatives have been successful in responding
to this trend. The Mexican Government’s
initiative to issue identity documents through
their consulates (‘matriculas consulares’) to
enable Mexican immigrants in the US to open
bank accounts has been particularly successful
in boosting remittances, and several other countries
in Central America are now also considering
such identity card programmes.60
Regulating Transfers: In the wake of the 11
September, 2001 terrorist attacks on US soil,
national financial regulators in the Western
world have become increasingly concerned
about the potential security implications of
global financial flows especially with respect
to their potential use in terrorist financing and
money laundering activities. In this connection,
much attention has been focused on informal
remittance systems—commonly known as the
Hawala or Hundi systems—because of their
anonymous and unregulated nature. Informal
systems are still widely used because they offer
very efficient, low-cost and speedy services.
According to a recent International Monetary
Fund (IMF) study, it takes only 6 to 12 hours
to transfer funds between major international
cities, at the very low average direct cost of 2
to 5 per cent. These systems function well even
in post-conflict and other settings where formal
financial infrastructures are non-existent.64
Technological innovations
have contributed to this trend as well and have
improved outreach to underserved communities.
Nevertheless, universal access is still not
a reality.
On the remitting end, migrants’ access to the
formal financial sector needs to be improved
through increased outreach activities by all
concerned stakeholders including the private
sector. Thus “banking the unbanked” at both
ends of the remittance lifeline constitutes a
fundamental aspect of fostering remittances,
maximizing their long-term benefits to migrants
and enhancing development impacts for recipient
national economies.66
Protecting migrants’ human rights and ensuring
that labour standards are respected in host
countries is another often overlooked aspect
of the remittance equation; migrant workers
are more likely to fully realize their potential as
remitters in environments where, at minimum,
internationally recognized labour standards are
respected and domestic labour laws are adequately

“Brain Drain”
The cross-border movement of skilled and highly
skilled labour constitutes an integral aspect of
globalization. Driving this process is the enhanced
integration of regional and global labour markets.
Generally, it is argued that the loss of skilled
personnel widens the development gap between
origin and destination countries by slowing
GDP growth in the former.
Moreover, the establishment
of a highly skilled diaspora may give rise to a
vicious cycle of human capital flight by constituting
a pole of attraction for other highly skilled
workers, motivating them also to migrate.
The cost of losing qualified nationals encompasses
not only the lost future productivity of the
skilled migrant but also the loss of investment
in the education and training of the migrant
incurred by the country of origin. Quantifying
such a loss is of course speculative. However,
it has been calculated that with respect to brain
drain from the developing world to Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD) countries, it costs developing countries
on average 20,000 USD to educate someone to
a tertiary level. Consequently, the 3 million highly
skilled migrants in OECD countries constitute a
total loss to developing countries of 60 billion
USD in educational investment alone.68
Furthermore, brain drain is associated with
significant social costs, as it deeply impacts
families. In many cases, men pursue job opportunities
abroad, while leaving their wives and
children behind, effectively creating one-parent
families. According to a 2004 conference report
by the ILO, when mothers migrate, the consequences
can be even more serious as their
children oftentimes “drop out of school or find
themselves in vulnerable situations of neglect
and abuse, including incest.”69
In some regions, the proportion of skilled and
highly skilled manpower within the total pool of
migrants seeking opportunities abroad is particularly
high. In the African case for instance, ILO research
reveals that up to 75 per cent of persons
emigrating from Africa to the US, Canada or to
OECD countries have completed university level,
or equivalent technical training.71 By comparison,
the figure for the Asia-Pacific region is slightly
more than 50 per cent, and around 47 per cent
of migrants from Latin America have completed
tertiary level education.72 At the national level,
several smaller countries in Central America,
Africa and the Caribbean lost more than 30 per
cent of their skilled workforce to migration.
In some regions, certain sectors of the economy
are hard hit by skilled migration. The emigration
of health professionals (i.e. doctors, nurses)
within and away from Africa is one such example,
creating internal mal-distributions and
critical shortages of health professionals. This
is especially problematic because many African
countries already are experiencing national
health crises of tremendous proportions.
The consequences of these
shortages are clear; inadequate health coverage
for domestic populations which may lead to
even further degradation of the human capital
resource base when public health crises, such
as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, cannot be effectively
Recently, some developed countries have
become more attuned to the effects of such
recruitment and have taken various initiatives to
help address this problem. In 1999 and 2001,
the Department of Health of the United Kingdom
(UK) elaborated guidelines to better regulate recruitment
of foreign nurses. More recently these
policies have been supplemented with bilateral
labour agreements. For instance, the governments
of the UK and South Africa have signed
an agreement to allow South African doctors
and nurses to work in the UK on time limited
projects which have a focus on educational and
training elements.74 The agreement also contemplates
UK nurses and doctors working on a temporary
basis in South Africa.
A problem related to brain drain is that of “brain
waste” which occurs when highly skilled migrants
work as unskilled labour in host countries.
For instance, it is not uncommon for doctors and
engineers from Africa and Latin America to be
working as janitors or taxi drivers in Europe and
America. Tackling this problem requires more
concerted efforts by governments to establish
the educational equivalencies of foreign diplomas,
as well as efforts to effectively integrate
foreign professionals into domestic labour
forces so that their full potential is maximized. A
recent study conducted in Sweden shows that
the unemployment rate for migrants (defined
as persons born abroad) with a tertiary level
education is twice as high as that of the native
born population with similar qualifications. Also,
it shows that a considerable number of highly
educated migrants consider themselves to have
jobs for which they are overqualified.75
Also, others have suggested that since the
emigration of highly skilled creates incentives
for populations in origin countries to pursue
higher education in the expectation that it will
result in high returns through future migration
possibilities, the end result is that the overall levels
of human capital are enhanced since most
of the highly educated nevertheless remain in
their native countries. Indeed some countries,
such as the Philippines, have even promoted
migration of the highly skilled, including health
professionals, with the expectation of enhancing
flows of remittances and promoting skills acquisition
of labour abroad.
In the debate on brain drain, a number of policy
responses have been elaborated of which the
following three—retention, return, and resourcing—
tend to characterize the debate.76
Retention: From the perspective of developing
countries, retention of skilled labour appears to
be an optimal solution to the brain drain problem
although it might be the most difficult one to im-
plement successfully in the short— or mid—term
because it requires addressing the root causes
of human capital flight, namely, economic
under-development. Skilled workers migrate
in response to demands of overseas labour
markets offering job opportunities which better
match their skill levels, professional objectives
and financial expectations than those of their
domestic labour markets.
Retention therefore requires
creating attractive opportunities at home which
in turn entails economic development and possibly
also targeted development of specific sectors
including education, high tech, information
technology (IT) and health-care.
Interestingly, modern communications technology
may be reducing the need for highly skilled
workers to migrate by allowing them to provide
services through the Internet from their home
countries. An ILO study of migration from the
Philippines observes that “[t]he pervasive use of
the Internet as real time communications media
has effectively closed the gap between users
and suppliers of highly skilled work without actual
physical dislocation
Exploiting modern communications
technology to achieve virtual mobility
of the highly skilled may constitute one innovative
strategy worthy of future exploration.
Return: Return is often seen as a natural conclusion
to the migration cycle. A large portion of
migrants in fact intend to return to their home
countries when the purpose of their stay abroad
has been accomplished, whether that be at the
conclusion of their job contracts, educational
programmes, or when they have saved enough
capital to start anew in their home country or
simply retire comfortably. Skilled migrants who
return home bring with them enhanced skills,
ideas and knowledge acquired abroad, business
contacts, accumulated savings and other
human and capital assets thus making signifi -
cant contributions to local economies. However,
experience reveals that it is difficult to influence
a migrant’s decision to return through policy
intervention, and permanent return policies face
many of the same challenges as those aiming
at retention.
Policies to encourage return migration of skilled
migrants have had mixed results.Thus, for example,
IOM’s Return of Qualified African Nationals
Programme (RQAN) has recently been replaced
by the Migration for Development in Africa
(MIDA) programme. Building on the idea of mobility
of skills, IOM’s MIDA programme seeks to
match sectoral skill needs of African economies
with qualifications of African migrants of the
diaspora for consultancy and other temporary
missions requiring sequenced or repeated visits,
    teaching assignments and virtual/telework.
Resourcing the diaspora
Mobilizing the diaspora as a development force is an option gaining increasing currency
among policy makers. Beyond the signifi cant transfers of capital through remittance fl ows,
migrant diasporas have also been instrumental in channelling fl ows of FDI to their home
countries. According to a recent IOM study on migration and development in Asia the Indian
diaspora contributed 9.15 per cent of FDI fl ows to India in 2002. The Chinese diaspora
contribution to FDI in China was even higher. Flows of FDI from the highly skilled diaspora
also are closely linked with the emergence of high tech industries in developing countries.
For instance, the migrant Indian IT community in Silicon Valley, California, has been a driving
force behind the development of the Indian software industry. Similarly, the Chinese diaspora
has played a central role in the explosive growth of high tech industries in Taiwan and
China. Thus, through capital fl ows, exchange of information and a burgeoning
activity the diaspora is widely considered to have become an important driving force
behind economic development of countries of origin.
Governments are therefore seeking to enhance diaspora related contributions to their
economy through a variety of means. Principally, they have sought to cultivate ties
with their migrant diasporas by liberalizing dual citizenship and other immigration laws,
diaspora investments and fi nancial linkages with the home country.
Source: IOM, “Migration and Development: A Perspective from Asia”, IOM Migration
     Research Series, No. 14 (November 2003).

    4. Human Rights of
Civil Society
Three categories of NGOs deal with migration issues.
The first category is traditional operational
NGOs working on refugee, displaced person and
migrant assistance that have an advocacy branch
focusing on specific aspects of migration policy.
The International Catholic Migration Commission
(ICMC), an operational arm of the Catholic
Church, for instance, coordinates Catholic assistance
activities for refugees, migrants and other
displaced persons of all faiths. It also is involved
in advocacy work focusing on different aspects
of migration policy including human rights, racism
issues, international protection of refugees
and migrants and counter-trafficking.86
The second category is traditional advocacy
NGOs whose mandate covers a specific issue
and that are expanding their scope to include
different aspects of migration policy. Amnesty
International,87 for instance, has a “Forced
Migration Project,” Human Rights Watch88 covers
“global issues” including “Refugees,” and smaller
NGOs such as Migrants Rights International
(MRI)89 are developing their purview to cover different
aspects of migration policy including the
challenges of the “migration/asylum” nexus, the
“migration/trade” nexus, et alia.
The third category is based on networks that
have been created amongst civil society to
strengthen its voice, and to address migration
and refugee challenges. Umbrella NGOs such as
the International Council of Voluntary Agencies
(ICVA) consists of an advocacy network for humanitarian
NGOs and acts as a focal point on UN
bodies such as the UN Inter-Agency Standing
Committee, and within the Partnership in Action
(PARinAC) programme between NGOs and
UNHCR.91 Another initiative described in Chapter
2 on Migration Policy is entitled the FAM, headed
by the SID through one of its national chapters
based in the Netherlands. Though other actors, in
addition to civil society organizations (CSOs), are
members of SID, this initiative is largely perceived
as one emanating from civil society to “encourage
a positive view and international perspective
on asylum and migration matters.”92
Vulnerability of Migrants
In a resolution on
the Human Rights of Migrants in 2003, the UN
Human Rights Commission expressed its deep
concern “at the manifestations of violence, racism,
racial discrimination, xenophobia and other
forms of intolerance and inhuman and degrading
treatment against migrants, especially women
and children, in different parts of the world.”94
Migrants also face difficulties in enforcing
their rights. Many migrants are socially and
economically marginalized, living in poor, physically
segregated communities and oftentimes
without access to social services. Many migrants
work in what are commonly referred to as “dirty,
difficult and dangerous jobs.” They can be powerless
to obtain health-care services, which
is especially problematic because migration is
associated with an increased susceptibility to
health risks. Migrants are at much greater risk of
HIV/AIDS. A report by the Joint United Nations
Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) confirms
that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is particularly
high among migrant workers.95 Moreover, effective
access to the legal system is often hampered
by linguistic and cultural obstacles, fear
of public institutions and ignorance on their part
of human rights principles and State practice.
Where effective remedies are non-existent or
inaccessible at the national level, international
justice remains elusive because of the lack of
effective international enforcement mechanisms
and monitoring activities.

Women Migrants
While both men and women migrate for many of
the same reasons—for example, to improve their
access to social and economic opportunities—
women often have a very different migration
experience. During the migration process, they
are frequently at a much higher risk of gender
discrimination, violence, human trafficking and
sexual abuse. Upon arrival in their host country,
women are often relegated to gender specific
occupations, which translate into jobs in sweatshops
or as prostitutes.
Women, in particular, are physiologically at a
greater risk of HIV/AIDS infection than men.

Human Rights and National Security
The terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September
2001 and events that have followed have exacerbated
some human rights abuses by contributing
to heightened levels of xenophobia and
suspicion of migrants in a number of countries.
The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and
Xenophobia has documented changing attitudes
towards Muslims in the “Summary Report
on Islamophobia in the EU After 11 September
2001.” The report shows an increase in hostilities
directed at those who appear to be Muslim
or of Arab descent, as measured by several
indicators, including opinion polls, documented
physical and verbal attacks, and news media
In addition, greater security concerns have
translated into more restrictions on mobility
including more thorough checking of immigration applications against criminal and terror

International Human Rights Architecture
The United Nations Charter and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): The
UN Charter and UDHR form the basis of the
international human rights architecture. Both
of these documents reflect the international
community’s efforts, in the wake of the tragedies
of World War II, to extend fundamental human
rights protections to all persons—without distinctions
of any kind. Both the UN Charter and the
Universal Declaration reflect this principle.
The principles of equality and non-discrimination
are reflected in the three international human
rights instruments adopted in 1965 and 1966,
which were intended to give legal effect to
the UDHR, namely the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR): The ICCPR provides several
protections for migrants as it prohibits, inter alia,
torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,
slavery, forced or compulsory labour and retroactive
criminal penalties. In addition, it guarantees
the right to life, recognition as a person before
the law and freedom of thought, conscience and

International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights (ICESCR): The ICESCR guarantees
a comprehensive set of rights. It goes beyond
covering what traditionally are considered
basic human rights, such as freedom of religion
and association, and includes protections relating
to employment, just and favourable working
conditions, establishment of trade unions, social
security, adequate living standards, education
and participation in cultural life. More and more,
these non-first tier human rights are gaining
prominence in policy discussions, as evidenced
by the 19 countries that have ratified ICESCR
since the ICPD in 1994.
Under ICESCR, these rights are
guaranteed to “everyone without discrimination
of any kind,” as stated in Article 2, section 2.
International Convention on the Elimination of

“Managing” Economic Migration
Central features distinguishing economic migrants
are: their skills levels; length of stay in
countries of destination; and related to this, their
contractual arrangement, (i.e., the rules under
which they move).
Economic migration is often regulated through
a wide variety of policies adopted by countries,
including: temporary labour migration schemes
(bilateral agreements); regional agreements;
and multilateral agreements.
Temporary Labour Migration Schemes: In the
1960s, many countries experimented with
temporary labour migration schemes to satisfy
employers’ demand especially in sectors requiring
low skilled personnel. The Gastarbeiter
programme in Germany and the Bracero programme
in the US constitute past examples
of such initiatives. Today, the demand for low
skilled labour continues unabated with, for instance,
the recent proposed legislation, which
would allow foreign workers to fill jobs in cases
where American workers cannot be found. To-
day you also find recruitment of temporary but
highly skilled labour as the focus of such hiring
schemes. In Europe, the traditional emigration
of health-care professionals from ex-colonies
and Commonwealth countries in Asia and Africa
has witnessed a rebound.
Temporary labour migration schemes, if well
designed, carry significant advantages. Temporary schemes may
provide a solution to domestic labour shortages
which is politically viable to destination countries.
Secondly, the difficulties inherent in forecasting
labour market needs necessitate flexible approaches
to which temporary schemes may be
better adapted.
Opening up channels for legal migration
through temporary schemes also may provide
an important means of undercutting irregular
Nevertheless, temporary labour migration
schemes also have posed significant challenges
for migrants. In many cases, participants
have left their families, oftentimes for extended
periods of time, to pursue work opportunities
abroad. People in such programmes often fall
into a “circular migration” pattern by which
migrants enter a country to work, go home for
some time, and return again for work. Family
separation strains the family unit, particularly in
cases in which migrants remain in the destination
country for an indefinite period of time. In
addition, migrants also have experienced difficulty
in accessing all of the benefits included in
the temporary programmes. Some programmes
have led to the exploitation of its participants
where they were not fully compensated for the
work they performed.
Temporary labour migration schemes often are
formalized through bilateral agreements.
One example of such a
Short-term programme, widely regarded as being successful
for the 10,000 workers concerned in 2002,
is the Mexican Seasonal Agricultural Workers
Programme with Canada.117
In some cases, they also offer migrants the opportunity to further their skill
level thereby leading to significant transfers
of skills and technology to their home country
when they return.

Regional Agreements: The establishment of enlarged
“free labour movement areas” is noticeable
and gaining momentum in a number of regions.
The best example of this lasting trend has been
the creation and recent expansion of the single
European labour market. In a few years, total
internal freedom of movement will be granted to
the 450 million citizens of the EU. Bilateral agreements
also have been signed with the countries
belonging to the European Free Trade Areas
(EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA)
so that most of Western and Central Europe will
soon be integrated into a single labour market.

Migrant Workers Rights
International efforts to extend human rights and
labour rights protections to migrant workers
have met with limited success, in part, because
of the low number of ratifications of relevant ILO
and UN treaties, especially by migrant receiving
At the 2004 ILO International Labour Conference
(ILC), the responsibility of States to safeguard
the rights and well-being of migrant workers
under national laws as well as international
     agreements was emphasized.

    6. Refugee Protection
Challenges to Ensuring Protection
Despite continued international and regional
efforts that focus on the plight of refugees,
ensuring their protection is often difficult to attain.
This remains true because the granting of
asylum is effectively based on States’ prerogative
and is a matter within their sole domestic
jurisdiction. This is often further complicated by
local conditions particularly where refugees find
themselves in countries with limited financial
and material capacities to provide for them.
In addition, security considerations following the
terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 in the
US have resulted in significant challenges to
protecting refugees. In particular, discriminatory
policies targeted towards asylum-seekers from
specific regions and adopted in destination
countries have been criticized by human rights
groups as people are detained under inhumane
living conditions, sometimes for several years.136

Protracted Refugee Situations
Protracted refugee situations represent particular
challenges for the international community.
At ICPD+5, two main issues were identified
as requiring special attention: providing
assistance to countries hosting a protracted
presence of refugees and the needs of refugee
women and children.
Refugees can be regarded as being in a protracted
situation “when they have lived in exile
for more than five years, and when they still
have no immediate prospect of finding a durable
solution to their plight by means of voluntary
repatriation, local integration or resettlement.”137
These situations can be frequently identified,
but they are particularly common on the African
Continent, where around 3 million people find
themselves under these conditions. Examples
of protracted refugee situations in Africa include
Liberian refugees in Ghana and in Côte d’Ivoire,
Somali refugees in Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and
Yemen, Sahrawi refugees in Algeria, Sudanese
refugees in Uganda, Kenya, Chad and Ethiopia,
Angolan refugees in Zambia, Burundi refugees
in Tanzania, Eritrean refugees in Sudan and
Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea.
For various reasons, protracted refugee situations
often seem to be intractable. Armed conflicts,
often lasting many years, frustrate the repatriation
process. As repatriation is often seen
as the favoured solution138 (as opposed to local
integration or resettlement), refugees can find
themselves trapped in camps for many years.
Despite successes in repatriating refugees in
some regions, many are unable to make the
journey home because of continued security
fears, or lack of capital or because they are too
old, too young or too sick.
are often located in remote, insecure, socially
and economically marginalized areas. Refugees
tend to suffer from increased poverty and are
confronted with situations of physical insecurity,
attacks or recruitment by armed elements,
tension with local host communities, and other
types of violence.
Finding themselves without freedom of movement
and only limited economic and educational
opportunities, and progressively losing the hope
of finding a solution to their plight, young male
refugees, in particular, are prone to engage in
various forms of delinquent behaviour, exposing
the refugees to greater risks and hardships.

Strategies to Address Protracted
Refugee Situations
Long-term strategies to tackle protracted refugee
situations include conflict prevention, conflict
resolution, poverty reduction programmes
and development projects. In highlighting these
objectives, the Agenda for Protection calls on
States, intergovernmental organizations and
UNHCR to give greater priority to dealing with
the root causes of refugee movements. It encourages
support for the UN’s work on conflict
prevention, conflict resolution, peace-keeping
and peace-building in war-torn States.140
points to how reconstruction of countries in post
conflict situations can be a way of facilitating voluntary
repatriation and thus address protracted
situations. In conceiving poverty reduction programmes
and development projects, the Agenda
for Protection calls on States to include refugee hosting
areas in their development plans.141
Research undertaken by
UNHCR encourages a move away from a minimum
standards strategy (i.e., providing security,
shelter, water, food, health and sanitation) to an
essential needs strategy (providing elements
required to lead a safe and dignified life, which
go beyond minimum standards). This strategy includes
minimum protection and assistance standards,
as well as measures to improve the quality
and standard of life within camps and to provide
refugees with a greater degree of control over
their affairs, such as income-generation, community
self-management programmes, and other
“self-reliance pending return” programmes.

Vulnerable Groups
At ICPD +5, participants recognized that women,
children and the elderly often comprise the
majority of refugees in camp populations. They
often face higher risks for malnutrition, infectious
diseases, physical and sexual exploitation,
discrimination and neglect.
The Agenda for Protection
also acknowledges these vulnerable groups,
by calling on States to meet protection needs
of refugee women and children and to ensure
that emergency responses to mass influxes
include community-based activities addressing
the specific protection needs of refugee women
and children.145
Women: In most regions of the world, women
and girls constitute between 45 and 55 per cent
of the refugee population. Modern-day warfare
has witnessed heightened levels of genderbased
and sexual violence.
In addition to the core public health interventions
for all refugees (e.g., water, food, sanitation,
shelter, preventive and curative care),
the RH needs of women and adolescent girls
must be addressed to reduce maternal mortality
and morbidity, unwanted pregnancies,
unsafe abortions, and to prevent STIs/HIV/
AIDS. Moreover, as many households become
headed by women due to the breakdown
of family and social networks, women and
girls may be forced to offer sex in exchange for
food, shelter or protection. Thus, specific measures
to prevent and manage consequences
of gender-based violence are required. These
include ensuring that basic services and facilities
in the camp are located in easily accessible
places so that women are not vulnerable to attack;
improving lighting in the camp; monitoring
the nutritional status of women (to identify potential
problems in food distribution); consulting
with refugee women about the type and location
of water points and about the means of collecting
fuel for cooking and heating; involving refugee
women in the design of health programmes
to guarantee that women have equal access to
health services; and guaranteeing that women
have equal access as men to educational
programmes and to programmes designed to
increase economic self-sufficiency.148

Children: Children fleeing their homes in search
of refuge comprise about half of the world’s refugee
population. The percentage of children who
are refugees, as part of the total refugee population,
ranges from 57 per cent in Central Africa
to 20 per cent in Central and Eastern Europe.
Their exacerbated vulnerability, in the wake
of social and political instability, renders them
prime targets for age-specific violence, most
notably, violence associated with the recruitment
of child soldiers.
Specifically, in February 2004, the
UNGA resolved that “unaccompanied refugee
minors are among the most vulnerable refugees
and the most at risk of neglect, violence, forced
military recruitment, sexual assault, abuse and
vulnerability to infectious disease, such as human
immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency
syndrome, malaria and tuberculosis.”
In protecting children in refugee camps, it is important
to ensure that they have access to drinking
water, shelter, basic health-care and that
they receive adequate quantities of nutritious
food. The International Symposium on Post-
Primary Education for Refugees and IDPs held
in Geneva in 2002, emphasized that although
access to primary education is absolutely crucial
for refugee children, more and better post-primary
education also is an urgent necessity in
camps. Only a very small percentage of refugee
children go to secondary school and have the
opportunity to participate in vocational training

Elderly: As stated by the former High Commissioner
for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, in 1999,
older refugees have been invisible for too long.
Based on 2002 figures, refugees above 60
years of age constituted more than 15 per cent
of the refugee population in Eastern Europe
and the Balkans; in Africa they have generally
represented less than 5 per cent. At the Second
World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid 2002, it
was recognized that older refugees of different
cultural backgrounds growing old in new and
unfamiliar surroundings are often in special need
of social networks and extra support. It called for
efforts to ensure their physical access to such
services, and for a more targeted inclusion of
older refugees in all aspects of programming
and implementation.151
UNHCR has found that older refugees
can best be assisted within overall protection
programmes closely tied to the context of family
and the community rather than through the
     establishment of separate services

    8. Internal Migration
Development-Induced Migration
Population redistribution also can be caused
by development projects, such as dams, roads,
power lines, mines, pipelines and other infrastructure
projects, which force people off their
lands. Some estimates place the numbers of
persons displaced by dam construction alone to
be between 40 million and 80 million persons
One example is the Three
Gorges Project of China’s Yangtze River which
will displace an estimated 1.2 million people,
both rural and urban, by 2009.193 The Chinese
government’s promise of granting equivalent
amounts of new land has had to be abandoned
in the face of limited availability of land and economic
resources. Instead, the Chinese government
is creating incentives to motivate hundreds
of thousands of displaced persons to accept
distant resettlement in other parts of China.194

Conflict-Induced Migration
Migration induced by war and other conflicts is
by definition uncontrolled and often is associated
with significant destruction and/or abandonment
of human settlements, loss of traditional
livelihoods and increased urban pressures. A
salient characteristic of persons who are forced
to leave their places of usual residence because
of violence is their heightened state of vulnerability;
they often have little or no access to economic
opportunities or to basic services, such as
health, education, housing, food and tend to live
in conditions of physical insecurity. Women, children
and the elderly who constitute the majority
of the world’s IDPs, face particular challenges in this regard since displacement leads to the
breakdown of social support networks.
For instance, the civil war in Mozambique
displaced about 4.5 million persons from
rural areas to the cities.195 As land has become
an increasingly valuable commodity, combatants
in internal conflicts have at times used internal
displacement as a deliberate strategy of war, that
is to say, as means to extend their control over
strategic geographical areas. In other cases, governments have deliberately
acted to displace their own nationals
in order to change the ethnic population, control
natural resources, implement land reform or simply
     gain military advantage.

Populations Displaced by Natural Disasters and Other
Environmental Pressures
Poor people, especially women and children, are susceptible to the
impacts of natural disasters and other environmental pressures. For
women in such situations, complicated pregnancies and deliveries
can become life threatening if left untreated.
In 2001, an earthquake in El Salvador affected about 1 million
people or one sixth of the population. Consequently, access to RH
care, including family planning (FP), was severely hampered. To address
emergency RH concerns, as well as the spread of HIV/AIDS
and other STDs, UNFPA provided safe motherhood and RH supplies
to cover the needs of the displaced population.
In Uganda, refugees, displaced persons and victims of drought
lack access to potable water, food, shelter, income and other basic
services. The UN agencies are cooperating to provide basic social
services, re-integrate ex-combatants and returnees and restore livelihoods
and infrastructure. UNFPA has focused on primary healthcare
service delivery for displaced persons, with an emphasis on
RH for women, men and adolescents.
Source: Excerpts taken from UNFPA, “Population, Environment,
and Poverty Linkages: Operational Challenges” (2001).

        9. Migration Data
Obstacles to Collection, Analysis
and Exchange
There are numerous serious obstacles to collecting
comprehensive, accurate and timely migration
data. Some difficulties are tied to, inter alia:
• Gathering specific and compatible definitions
and comparability of data sources;
• Operational problems of how data are retrieved
including the incompleteness of information
over time; and
• Political motivations that may influence how
statistics are reported within and among governments.
Compatibility: As it is often very difficult to compare
migration data due to different terminology,
definitions and categories used, it is critical to
work towards ensuring that government ministries
apply the same or similar definitions for
specific migrant categories, or at the very least,
that they are aware of existing differences.

Collection: There are a number of operational
problems tied to the collection of migration data.
One problem is legal rather than operational
and is associated with definitional difficulties
outlined above.
For instance, in 2001 at an IOM/IMP
meeting for West Africa, it was argued that virtually
no statistics exist in West Africa as in other
parts of the world for two types of migration that
are particularly difficult to measure: trans-border
labour migration and illegal or irregular migration
(i.e., clandestine movements).208 Despite these
difficulties, certain categories of migration data
are in increasingly high demand.
Another problem is that no single source of
data exists to provide comprehensive figures on
migration data. Instead, a combination of different
sources of data collection must be referred
to including border data, permits and registers.
Countries often use a combination of methods.
Frequently, countries use identification documents,
residency permits, census taking and
border points. However, each of these methods
has shortcomings.
The issue of whether to impose national identification
documents on foreigners (and on
nationals for that matter) can be controversial.
On the issue of residency permits, these constitute
an effective way of counting the numbers
of non-citizens living in the country at a given
time, however, they often reflect the number of
newcomers (flows) rather than the totality of
foreigners (stock) living in the country. In addition,
increasingly, residency permits often do not
apply within free-trade areas, and therefore may
constitute a defunct method for information on
specific nationalities in given regional areas.

Dissemination: A third challenge is tied to the
exchange or dissemination of migration data.
Political motivations, for instance, may influence
how statistics are reported within and among
governments. Indeed, migration statistics remain
a politically sensitive topic both within and
amongst countries. While entirely de-politicizing
the significance of migration statistics is unlikely,
on-going dialogue and efforts at exchanging
migration data are underway to curtail this potential
UN Regional Commissions have also been
engaged in a growing number of activities in
the field of international migration statistics. For
example, the Economic Commission for Europe
(ECE), in collaboration with Eurostat, the Council
of Europe, and others, regularly collects international
migration statistics among ECE countries.
The Latin American and Caribbean Demographic
Centre (CELADE) of the Economic Commission
for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) collects international migration statistics and
compiles them in a regional data bank, known
as Investigation of International Migration in
Latin America (IMILA).
Through regular activities and the review process
for the DYB, the UNSD has stated its commitment
“to work in collaboration with interested
agencies and national statistical offices that have
experience in this field.”213

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