An estimated 258 million people are international migrants, a figure that has surged by a half since the turn of the century, the United Nations said on Monday. One in ten of those people is a refugee or asylum seeker, the U.N. said in a report on migration trends and developments released to coincide with International Migrants Day, according to Reuters.
Globally, 3.4 percent of the population consists of international migrants, meaning someone who lives in a country other than the country where they were born, it said.
The rights of migrants and the need for safe, well-managed migration policies are included in the set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted unanimously by the U.N. member nations in 2015, and the U.N is planning an international conference on migration late next year. Other figures showed that migration contributed 42 percent of the population growth in Northern America between 2000 and 2015, and that the population in Europe would have declined during that time period without migration. The biggest number of international migrants, nearly 50 million, live in the United States. Saudi Arabia, Germany and Russia have about 12 million international migrants each, followed by the UK with almost nine million, it said. The greatest number of migrants, 106 million, came from Asia, it said. India has the most native-born people living elsewhere, at 17 million, followed by Mexico with 13 million, it said.
The U.N. report said that in 2017, high-income countries hosted 64 percent of the international migrants worldwide, or nearly 165 million people.
"Reliable data and evidence are critical to combat misperceptions about migration and to inform migration policies," said Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin, as reported by AP.
In September 2016, all 193 U.N. member states, including the United States under President Barack Obama, adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. It said no one country can manage international migration on its own.
The countries agreed to implement well-managed migration policies and committed to sharing more equitably the burden of hosting refugees. They also agreed to protect the human rights of migrants and to counter xenophobia and intolerance toward migrants. They further agreed to launch a process leading to the adoption of a global compact in 2018.
Liu said the new estimates "will provide an important baseline for member states as they begin negotiations on the Global Compact."
One important country will not be taking part. In early December, the United States said it was ending its participation in negotiations on the compact.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the declaration "is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty." A statement from the U.S. Mission said numerous provisions were "inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies" under President Donald Trump.
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