The Dark Side of International Migration
There are now a record high of 232 million people living and working outside their countries of origin, generating over 400 billion dollars annually in remittances, and counting.3 Migrant earnings were nearly four times the 126 billion dollars in official development assistance (ODA) from rich to poor nations last year, according to figures released by the United Nations. The river of cash flowing into developing countries, including India, Bangladesh, Morocco, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Egypt and the Philippines, is one of the more positive effects of migration. But what is a blessing for some is a calamity for others.
On the darker side is the continued exploitation of migrants, mostly in the Middle East, because of an increase in "slave labour" where workers suffer from low wages, inadequate medical care and atrocious working conditions. Joseph Chamie, a former director of the U.N. Population Division who has written extensively on international migration, told IPS that while there is generally universal condemnation of such migrant "slave" labour, prohibitions are difficult to enforce, as it often takes place in households and small work sites. One strategy to address this is the International Labour Organisation's Domestic Worker's Convention, aimed at stopping the abuse of domestic workers, which went into effect last month. Speaking on the eve of a high-level dialogue on international migration and development, Abdelhamid El Jamri, chair of the Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers (CMW), stressed Wednesday that migrants are not commodities but human beings. "Changing patterns of migration and the exploitation and discrimination faced by migrant workers in sectors such as construction and agriculture have made protecting their rights more crucial than ever," he said. The International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families (ICRMW) is one of the core international human rights...
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