International Development Committee Inquiry on Migration and Development | Refugee | Human Migration

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Oxfam believes that there is a significant link between migration and development. Migration is a feature of our globalising world and can, if properly managed and facilitated, do three things. First it can have positive effects on the labour markets, economies and societies of the host countries in the West. Further, it can provide important sources of finance and human capital in order to stimulate development in the sending countries. And finally, it can be an immensely positive experience for the migrants themselves, above all because of its potential to improve their incomes and livelihoods, and those of their families.
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    I NTERNATIONAL D EVELOPMENT C OMMITTEE I NQUIRY ON M IGRATION AND D EVELOPMENT  O XFAM W RITTEN S UBMISSION   N OVEMBER 2003    M IGRATION AND D EVELOPMENT  O XFAM GB W RITTEN S UBMISSION FOR THE I NTERNATIONAL D EVELOPMENT C OMMITTEE   Summary 1. Oxfam believes that there is a significant link between migration and development. Migration is a feature of our globalising world and can, if properly managed and facilitated, do three things. First it can have positive effects on the labour markets, economies and societies of the host countries in the West. Further, it can provide important sources of finance and human capital in order to stimulate development in the sending countries. And finally, it can be an immensely positive experience for the migrants themselves, above all because of its potential to improve their incomes and livelihoods, and those of their families. 2. The causal effect between development and migration is complex and goes both ways. Development characteristics of both sending and host countries such as income, political stability and public spending affect the number and characteristics of migrants. Conversely, migration can have an impact on development. Emigration can have both positive and negative effects for a developing country, by reducing unemployment and generating higher local wages, by causing “brain drain”, by generating return of capital (financial, human and social) that can be invested, by supplying remittance flows, by promoting stronger trade links. 3. States have a fundamental obligation under international law to protect refugees, and this must not be compromised by measures to ‘manage migration’. Measures to control illegal migration cannot continue to result in a closure of avenues for refugees to access a territory to claim asylum, and development and humanitarian assistance must be adequate to meet the basic needs in safety and dignity of the displaced and host communities. 4. Within this context Oxfam recommends that the UK and EU governments reframe their migration policies to integrate social and economic development in migrants’ home countries with entry and integration in host societies. Within this there is a case for increasing the legal mobility of labour as a tool for the development benefit of both sending and host countries. Migration policy needs to be joined up with asylum, development, humanitarian, trade and foreign policies in order both to effectively address the root causes of migration, safeguard the legal obligations towards forced migrants and ensure the best and most equitable migration outcome for the individual, host and sending countries. 5. The increasing feminisation of migration should be recognised, and a gender analysis should be integral to any new policies. This should include guaranteeing protection from exploitation, especially trafficking for the purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation, and opening up opportunities for women to gain work in the UK labour market. Asylum policy or international assistance to forced migration situations must take into account the different needs, experiences and causes of flight of women refugees. 2    Introduction 6. Oxfam welcomes the International Development Committee’s inquiry and the opportunity to submit evidence based on Oxfam’s extensive humanitarian and development experience overseas and in the UK. Our work on forced migration includes programmes addressing the needs of refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs) and host communities in conflict and post-conflict situations around the world. In the UK we undertake advocacy and research on asylum issues and support refugee organisations. Oxfam has also carried out research with the Fabian Society into the causes and consequences of migration between Albania and the UK i . 7. Migration is a general term to describe the movement of men and women from their homes for more than just a visit. It can be temporary, followed by return; or permanent, with no return. Migration is a highly gendered process, with changing and differentiated patterns of movement by women and men. Any study of migration, and policies and programmes to address it, must be based upon a thorough gender analysis differentiated on the basis of class, economic position, race and ethnic identity. 8. Voluntary migrants include those moving for personal or economic reasons. Professionals moving between wealthy countries to pursue career opportunities fall into this category, as do those moving from developing countries due to livelihood insecurities of lack of employment opportunities. Forced migrants include asylum seekers, refugees and those in need of other forms of international protection from violence, conflict and persecution. They also include internally displaced people (IDPs) who flee for the same reasons as refugees but do not cross an international border. For the terms of this submission we will understand forced migrant as IDP, asylum seeker, refugee or person in need of other international protection, and voluntary migrant as an economic migrant from a developing country. 9. The debate on migration in the UK has been negatively cast, with confused and racist myths about ‘floods’ of ‘bogus’ asylum-seekers, and little rational or well-informed public, media or political discussion. ii  Alarmist rhetoric prevails, and economic migrants – whose very intention is to contribute their labour to the host country – are portrayed as seeking to abuse the welfare system or as threatening the employment prospects of indigenous British workers. Refugees and asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution are similarly demonised, with no reference to the receiving state’s basic obligation to protect them. Overall, while migrants do access infrastructure and public services, there are many economic, social, cultural and fiscal benefits for receiving countries. Indeed, the evidence increasingly suggests that migration stimulates the economy, enhances competitiveness and contributes £2.5bn a year net to the UK Treasury. iii   Development, poverty reduction and migration What is the predicted pattern and scale of migration over the next 25 years? 10. Recent data synthesised by international bodies such as the United Nations (UN), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the 3    International Organization for Migration (IOM) suggests an upward trend in international migration iv . The total number of people living in a country other than that of their birth was 175 million in 2000, up from 105 m. in 1985; most of this increase occurred in North America and Europe. Refugees make up 9 per cent of the global migrant total; most of these are in developing countries, with only 3 million in developed countries. The ratio of refugees to local population in some developing countries is therefore extremely high. For example the ratio of refugees to 1,000 of local population in Liberia is 87, in Georgia is 51 and in the UK is 3.2. 11. In terms of forced migration global trends, predictions are hard to make as large outflows are caused by unpredictable large scale conflict or human rights abuses. According to UNHCR the numbers of refugees in the world rose from 2.4 million in 1975 to a peak of 18.2 million at the end of the cold war in 1993. By 2000, the numbers had declined to 12.1 million v . Political rhetoric also suggests that there is a significant year on year rise in the number of asylum applications made in Europe, however statistics show that there has been an overall decrease in the last ten years and a specific decrease from 1999-2002 of 3.8%. vi  12. This decline does not reflect a decline in the numbers of people suffering violence and persecution but a shift in the kind of displacement. With a change in the nature of the world’s conflicts, there has been an increase in internal displacement. According to the Global Internally Displaced People (IDP) Project, in the first part of 2002, about 25 million people were estimated to be internally displaced, up from an estimated 5 million in the 1970s and outnumbering refugees by 2 to 1. vii  13. A new pattern in migration flows is the rise of “circular” migration – when a migrant moves between several times between his/her country of srcin and host country. This requires a redefinition of traditional descriptions of migration as “permanent” or “temporary”, “immigration” or “emigration”, and the use of policy approaches that respond to these new patterns. 14. A significant trend in international migration to which we wish to draw attention is that of ‘human smuggling’ and ‘trafficking’, terms which are often confused. Human smuggling involves moving people across borders for profit and although it can be dangerous or abusive essentially involves the consent of the migrant. Trafficking is non-consensual and aims at profit from the sexual services or labour of the trafficked person, elements of violence, exploitation and deception are involved, such as the trafficking of women for prostitution. Human smuggling and trafficking constitutes a multi-billion-dollar industry and is increasingly run by international criminal networks such as Chinese triads and the Italian mafia. It would appear that as legal routes to access developed countries are increasingly limited, so the illegal migration industry proliferates. Figures are almost impossible to verify but some quote that around 500,000 people, many of them women and children, are smuggled or trafficked into Western Europe each year viii  and that up to 2 million women and children are trafficked globally every year. ix   15. Demographic trends in Europe also have potential implications in terms of migration policy. Fertility rates are low and falling across the EU, such that the population of the EU (including countries that are expected to join by 2007) is predicted to fall from 482 million today to 454 million in 2050 - a decline of 6%. 4
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