Saudi, UAE in migrant boom

South Asians were the largest group of international migrants living outside of their home region

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are in the top five nations for international migrants as demand for foreign labour in the oil-producing countries grows, figures show.

The data released by the United Nations found 232 million people, or 3.2 per cent of the world’s population, were international migrants in 2013.

This compared to 175 million in 2000 and 154 million in 1990.

Of the total in 2013, the UN said half of all international migrants lived in 10 countries.

The US hosted the largest number at 45.8 million, followed by the Russian Federation (11 million), Germany (9.8 million), Saudi Arabia (9.1 million) and United Arab Emirates (7.8 million).

The United Kingdom had 7.8 million international migrants, France 7.4 million, Canada 7.3 million, Australia 6.5 million and Spain 6.5 million.

The UN said the US gained the largest absolute number of international migrants between 1990 and 2013 - nearly 23 million, or one million additional migrants per year.

The UAE recorded the second largest gain with seven million, followed by Spain with six million.

The data were released in advance of the upcoming High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, which will take place October 3-4 at the UN Headquarters.

The UN said in 2013, South Asians were the largest group of international migrants living outside of their home region.

Of the 36 million international migrants from South Asia, 13.5 million resided in the oil-producing countries in Western Asia. This included the GCC countries of the Middle East.

Compared to other regions, Asia saw the largest increase of international migrants since 2000, adding some 20 million migrants in 13 years.

“New sources and destinations of migrants are emerging, and in some cases, countries have become important points of origin, transit and destination simultaneously,” said John Wilmoth, director of the population division in the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Wilmoth said the growth in migrants to Asia was mainly fuelled by the increasing demand for foreign labour in Western Asia and in South-Eastern Asian countries with rapidly growing economies, such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Europe and Asia combined host nearly two-thirds of all international migrants worldwide.

And despite the rapid growth in migrants to Asia, Europe remains the most popular destination region with 72 million international migrants in 2013, compared to 71 million in Asia.

The UN said most international migrants were of working age (20 to 64 years) and accounted for 74 percent of the total.

Globally, women accounted for 48 percent of all international migrants.

Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said: “Migration, when governed fairly, can make a very important contribution to social and economic development both in the countries of origin and in the countries of destination.”

“Migration broadens the opportunities available to individuals and is a crucial means of broadening access to resources and reducing poverty,” he added.

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