Facebook Twitter

MIGRATION GROWING AS A GLOBAL WOE

SHARE MIGRATION GROWING AS A GLOBAL WOE

People are moving from rural areas to cities on a scale unknown in history, and more than 100 million migrants have left their home countries in search of a better life, a U.N. agency said Tuesday.

Unless industrialized countries and developing nations do more to make it easier for poor people to stay in their homelands, the world will face a crisis of migration, it warned."Migration has always been a feature of development, but today's migrants are pushing into territory occupied by others," the U.N. Population Fund said.

Dr. Nafis Sadik, the agency's executive director, said the results can be seen in places like Germany and France, where increased immigration has triggered public outcries and violent attacks on foreigners.

She also pointed to the Balkans, where ethnic fighting in the disintegrated Yugoslav federation has uprooted hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom have sought refuge in other countries. Similar floods of migrants are crossing borders in Africa to escape civil wars and droughts.

"The potential of this crisis is really explosive," Sadik said at a news conference.

With an estimated 100 million international migrants worldwide, the proportion of people living outside their country of birth approaches 2 percent of the world's population and will grow, the fund's report said.

That total includes an estimated 37 million people who have fled violence, drought, environmental destruction and other disasters, the report said.

Global media also continue to lure migrants to richer countries, the fund said.

As these pressures increase, however, "the options for migrants become more limited" because cities in their own countries are bulging and many industrialized nations are shutting their gates, the report said.

According to the United Nations, rural poverty, high fertility and environmental deterioration drive 20 million to 30 million of the world's poorest people to towns and cities each year.

By 2000, the report said, 90 percent of the poorest in Latin America and the Caribbean will be city-dwellers, along with 40 percent in Africa and 45 percent in Asia.

In world trade, the $66 billion in remittances sent each year from workers overseas to their families at home are second in value only to oil exports, the report said.

But the movement of millions of people annually is straining both industrialized and developing countries, the fund concluded.

"Concern with migration extends from developing countries, faced with bursting cities and a neglected rural sector, to industrialized countries, faced with the potential for an uncontrollable tide of people from poorer countries," the report said.

Easing the pressures that drive migrants into big cities and across international boundaries should become a top international priority, it said.

"The only effective means to reduce migration pressure over the long term are to slow population growth; to stimulate economic growth and job creation at home, and promote the development of the individual and the family as the basic economic and social unit," it said.

The world will add a record-breaking 98 million people a year this decade, the vast majority in Africa, Asia and Latin America, it said.

The 1993 global population of 5.57 billion is projected to increase to 6.25 billion in 2000, 8.5 billion in 2025 and 10 billion in 2050, the fund said.

The U.N. report also quoted World Health Organization estimates that 40 million people will carry the AIDS virus by the end of century, with perhaps 1 million deaths a year by that time, a mortality level about equivalent to that of malaria today.