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On the Move: 1 in 7 People is a Refugee, Immigrant or Displaced

  • Internally displaced people move toward a bus during an evacuation of Nigerian returnees from Niger, Nigeria, May 6, 2015.

    Internally displaced people move toward a bus during an evacuation of Nigerian returnees from Niger, Nigeria, May 6, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 December 2015

Worldwide, 250 million people are international immigrants and 750 million more are internal migrants.

In a world of increasing migration, one in seven people globally is an immigrant, refugee, or internally displaced person, the International Organization for Migration revealed on Thursday.

According to IOM, a total of 250 million people are international immigrants, 750 million more are internal migrants. Economic inequality and conflict are among the main reasons for migration and displacement, though climate change is increasingly a major factor.

“We have more people on the move than any other time in history,” said IOM General Director William Lacy Swing at a conference on migration in Bangkok, Thailand on Thursday, EFE reported.

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Swing emphasized that the lack of “political will” in the face of growing migration and refugee crises is a major challenge on a global level, pointing out that levels of “forced migration” have reached numbers not seen since the end of World War II.

The statement echoes findings of the new state of the world population report released by United Nations Population Fund on Thursday, which emphasized the dire need for humanitarian support amid growing global vulnerability and a higher number of people in need of humanitarian assistance than in the past six decades.

Swing said that cash-strapped countries hosting large numbers of refugees in the Middle East and North Africa should serve as an example to encourage resource-rich countries to step up their response to the refugee crisis in Syria and African countries such as Libya.

The IOM chief also stressed that the migration and refugee crisis should not be manipulated for political gain and should be approached pragmatically from a labor needs and humanitarian perspective.

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“We have to confront this growing anti-immigrant sentiment, in which people have forgotten that migration has historically been undeniably positive,” Swing said.

According to IOM, more than 870,000 refugees have arrived in Europe by sea this year alone. One in five have been children.

When it comes to internal displacement, the two top global hotbeds are Syria, with 7.6 million internally displaced people, and Colombia, where just over 6 million people suffer internal displacement as a result of the country’s 50-year armed conflict.

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IOM has urged for migration to be considered in climate change action plans, as climate change contributed to global vulnerability and forced migration.

According to IOM, migration can also be an adaptation strategy in the face of climate change.

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