World on the move – 19-year high, global refugees. The number of people who have been forcibly displaced by war and other crises worldwide has risen to its highest level for almost two decades, hitting 45.2 million, according to the UN’s refugee agency. The total figure of 45.2 million included 28.8 million internally displaced people, 15.4 million border-crossing refugees, and 937,000 asylum seekers. Due to the raft of crises, he said, the total number of refugees and internally displaced has risen to a level unseen since 1994, a year marked by the Rwandan genocide and bloodshed in former Yugoslavia.
While last year saw 2.1 million internally displaced people and 526,000 refugees return home, as well as the resettlement of 88,6000 in rich nations, fresh crises drove the global total higher. Fifty-five percent of them correspond to the well-known situations of Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria. Overall, the Afghan conflict continued to produce the most refugees, a position that it has held for 32 years. Worldwide, one refugee in four is Afghan. However, new conflicts in Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic as producing large numbers of displaced people and refugees.
But it’s not just refugees who are on the move. The total number of international migrants has increased over the last 10 years from an estimated 150 million in 2000 to 214 million persons today. In other words, one of out of every 33 persons in the world today is a migrant (whereas in 2000 one out of every 35 persons was a migrant). Migrants would constitute the fifth most populous country in the world. This is important to understand, as typically many migrants do not have the same rights and are often discriminated against from the indigenous populations. Democracy in effect is on the decline for these folks.
Understanding figures like this brings us to several conclusions. Globalization/free trade has been primarily driven by labor arbitrage and the control of natural resources. Its driving the migration as well as the conflicts in many parts of the world. Hence it has led some to believe that it’s the trade policies that in fact are the problem. Obviously those profiting from this would not agree. We can NOT have free flow of products across borders and not labor. In fact many countries are striving to curb immigration, even to the point it is creating heated internal political debates in certain countries. This puts labor at a big disadvantage. Strife is bound to follow. It is the big political driver in many countries around the world – the search for jobs for their populations.
People on the move, forced or unforced, indicates people are dissatisfied and are seeking something. It is also a situation that can be manipulated by mischievous politicians – even to the point of terrorism. Globalization/free trade and migration control, are like oil and water – they don’t mix well. You either need to change the trade policies to match the social desires for immigration control OR yes … open the borders. Pick your poison. It’s quite human to want it all and abuse the migrant class – so the current trends continue. The migrant class gets abused, the local indigenous populations frustrate about lost jobs and the volume of uncontrolled migrants that come to their shores, while a few benefit from all the strife. For the future long-term global economic macro view, this does not bode well. “Black Swans” are surely around the corner.
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