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UN stresses positive aspects of intern.l migration

UN officials stress the positive aspects of international migration

Senior United Nations officials today stressed the mutual benefits to countries of international migration, emphasized the importance of the high-level dialogue to take place in September examining the links between migration and development, and strongly backed the findings of the Secretary-General’s report issued earlier this week focusing on the global phenomenon.

Speaking to reporters in New York, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Migration, Peter Sutherland, said that Kofi Annan’s proposal for a standing forum would provide an opportunity for Governments to explore and compare policy approaches to migration.

“The high-level dialogue which will take place in September, we hope…will not be the end of a process but the beginning of a process. It will not entail the creation of any new bureaucracy or any new organization or any new structure…but will provide an opportunity for the sharing of best practices and the developing responses,” Mr. Sutherland said.

The dialogue will be held by the General Assembly from 14 to 15 September, and today’s press briefing along with this week’s report are intended to spur the discussion on international migration, which Mr. Sutherland describes as “one of the great global issues of this century.”

One of the findings of the report, which ran to 90 pages, was how migration has become a major feature of international life, such that the number of people living outside their home countries reached 191 million in 2005 – 115 million in developed countries, 75 million in the developing world.

Another finding from the report highlighted that migration was not a zero-sum game but rather can benefit both sending and receiving countries, something that was again emphasized by the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, José Antonio Ocampo.

“A major emphasis of the report is on the fact that there are possibilities for all sides to win in the international migration field. The receiving countries because they do have a need for labour…and the countries of origin because of the remittances that they get, the possibility of gaining investment,” Mr. Ocampo told the press.

He also acknowledged the various problems to be faced that were also raised in the report – including the issue of the adaptation of migrants and the loss of skilled labour in the countries of origin – but said that international cooperation had a large role to play in resolving such issues.

The report highlighted that migrants not only take on necessary jobs seen as less desirable by the established residents of host countries but also stimulate demand and improve economic performance overall. They also help to shore up pension systems in countries with ageing populations.

And for their part, developing countries benefit from an estimated $167 billion a year sent home by migrant workers. The exodus of talent from poor countries to more prosperous one often poses a severe development loss but in many countries this is at least partially compensated by migrants’ later return to, and/or investment in, their home countries, where profitable new businesses are established.

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