Putting “needs-first” in rights-based approaches to mixed migration
Appearing in Refúgio, Migrações e Cidadania, Cuaderno de Debates, a quarterly publication produced by the Instituto Migrações e Direitos Humanos, this document serves as a useful backgrounder to the issues arising in situations of so-called 'mixed migration', including the challenge of responding adequately to the protection needs of all those involved.
Resources -> Research & publication
Page -> Reseach
One out of every six human beings today is a migrant, either within their own national borders or to another country. Indeed, we are a world of 214 million international migrants and at least another 740 million internal migrants.
It is difficult to know for sure how many people actually move in any one year—whether within or from their country—but one UN report suggests: “Every year more than 5 million people cross international borders to go and live in a developed country. The number of people who move to a developing nation or within their country is much greater, although precise estimates are hard to come by.”
Because of shortcomings in data systems worldwide, it is also difficult to know who is moving to stay and who is moving only for temporary periods.
But why so much movement? The reasons are mixed. Individuals and families move within and from their countries for different reasons, sometimes several reasons, and those reasons may change even while they move.
Many move because they are forced to.
At the end of 2009, 43.3 million people worldwide had moved to escape persecution, conflict or human rights violations, the highest number since the mid-1990s. Of these:
In addition to these 43.3 million (often, but mistakenly referred to as if they were the only people “forcibly displaced”) many multiple millions of other men, women and children were also forced to move, either within or from their countries, by environmental or economic urgencies . While estimates vary dramatically, a large majority of these people are displaced within their own borders.
Others move more voluntarily, as a matter of choice. Often, they are referred to as “economic migrants” and, with globalization, their number has been growing.
Great caution is needed however, in accepting too breezy a characterization of individuals, groups, or even whole movements, of people as “economic migrants”. All too often, people who have objectively been forced to move—whether by persecution, conflict, economic or environmental necessity—have been and continue to be dismissed as mere “economic migrants” and are thereby denied the specific rights and responses that are proper to forced migrants.