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Migrants number 191 million across globe, UN says

Written by: Staff

UNITED NATIONS, June 7 (Reuters) Some 191 million people now live outside their country of birth and migration is a major feature of international life, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said.

While most migrants move to wealthy nations, 75 million people have moved between developing countries, Annan said in a report to the 191-nation UN General Assembly yesterday.

Calling the report ''an early road map for this new era of mobility,'' he proposed a standing forum on migration at the United Nations to help governments pursue an integrated approach to migration and development at both the national and international levels.

The report recognizes the right of governments to decide who may enter their territory but encourages them to work together to upgrade economic and social benefits at both ends of the migrant chain.

''It is for governments to decide whether more or less migration is desirable,'' Annan said. ''Our focus in the international community should be on the quality and safety of the migration experience and on what can be done to maximize its development benefits.'' Migration has several positive benefits for both the host nation and the country of origin, according to the report.

Migrants undertake less desirable jobs in the host country while stimulating demand and improved economic performance.

They also help to shore up pension systems in countries with aging populations.

Poor countries benefit by receiving an estimated 167 billion dollars a year in remittances, up from 58 billion dollars in 1995.

Worldwide, money sent home by migrants totaled 232 billion dollars in 2005, up from 102 billion dollars in 1995. One third of global remittances went to just four countries, India, China, Mexico and France.

The report found that one third of all immigrants in the world have moved from one developing country to another.

But migration to high income countries -- including some still regarded as developing such as South Korea, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- has grown much faster than to the rest of the world, it said.

Six out of 10 international immigrants reside in countries considered ''high income,'' according to the report.

Europe hosted 34 percent of all migrants in 2005, North America 23 percent and Asia 28 percent. Only 9 percent were living in Africa, 3 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and another 3 percent in Oceania.

Nearly half of all immigrants are women, and in developed countries they outnumber men, the report said.


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