25 June 2018
SDG Knowledge Weekly: Migrants, Refugees and Data
UN Photo/John Isaac
story highlights

IOM’s ‘World Migration Report’ and ‘Migration in the 2030 Agenda’ draw linkages to today's migration issues, while IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre recently released a pilot study on data disaggregated by migratory status, a Data Bulletin and Migration Data Portal.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime published a report on smuggled migrants and the risks they face.

June 20 marked World Refugee Day, around which the UN Refugee Agency launched its Global Trends report and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) published its ‘Global Report on Internal Displacement’.

With the struggles of migrants and refugees dominating news cycles, this SDG Knowledge Weekly brief collates knowledge pieces on the subject and brings earlier reports to the fore, to shed light on the issues anew.

The 2030 Agenda recognizes the positive contributions of migrants. In the declaration, heads of state and government commit to “cooperate internationally to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration involving full respect for human rights” (paragraph 29), which is similar to language used in SDG target 10.7. The SDG Knowledge Hub has covered the Global Compact on Migration (GCM) process, including the most recent round of negotiations, their outcomes, additional consultations and the Secretary-General’s report, ‘Making Migration Work for All.’ This policy brief highlights research and thought pieces behind the process and issues.

At the start of the calendar year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) issued a publication titled, ‘World Migration Report 2018.’ The ninth of its kind, this volume “demystifies” migration, noting in its forward the heightened importance of understanding migration’s complexities in today’s “post-truth” era. Using data through June 2017, the report outlines: global migration trends; regional development; the current migration governance structure; features of current news coverage of migration; and linkages between migration, social exclusion and other hardships faced.

IOM also issued a report titled, ‘Migration in the 2030 Agenda,’ which compiles papers linking migration to thematic challenges across the SDGs. The papers suggest ways to address migration as part of efforts to implement individual Goals. As highlighted by IOM, migration is included in SDG targets 4.b, 5.2, 8.7, 8.8, 10.7, 10.c, 16.2 and 17.18.

A pilot study by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) represents an effort to illustrate how far migrants are left behind, using harmonized census data. It discusses the potential to use such data to further monitor progress towards the SDGs, disaggregated by migratory status. SDG target 17.18 calls to increase the availability of data disaggregated by migratory status (among income, gender, age and other characteristics).

IOM GMDAC also authored a bulletin on a tool to quantify displacement and mobility. It describes IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), which aims to enable decision-making and targeted assistance in times of crisis. The DTM tracked over 30 million individuals across 72 countries in 2017, and is continuously being expanded in partnership with actors from the private sector and academia, and has fed into other reports, including the Global Report on Internal Displacement noted below. The GMDAC’s ‘Data Bulletin’ series informs the GCM process, with support from the EU.

The GMDAC previously developed Migration Governance Indicators (MGI), which have been used as a basis for assessing “well-managed migration policies,” per SDG target 10.7. The indicators help governments review the extent to which their migration policies are comprehensive, identify gaps, and advance the dialogue on migration, particularly in the context of the SDGs and the GCM. The first MGI assessment report for 15 pilot countries was released in 2016; a second report reviewing a new set of countries is forthcoming.

Also on data, the Migration Data Portal offers a tool to visualize and analyze migratory flows by country or region, as well as examine important data points on migrants’ vulnerability, well-being and remittance payments and costs. The Portal also features information on migration policy and public opinion, which can also affect other indicators such as migrants’ well-being. A summary guide is available on Data Driven Journalism. The Portal’s blog offers additional support, including a post on how to improve data on missing migrants, given the urgent need to address the more than 27,000 migrant deaths and disappearances recorded since 2014.

These efforts to collect and manage migration data are not implemented alone. The Global Migration Group (GMG) and Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) released a flagship publication in November 2017 with the IOM, World Bank Group, Governments of Germany, Sweden and Switzerland, and the broader UN system. The report is divided into four parts: concepts and criteria on migration; reasons for migration; linkages between migration and development; and protection of migrants. Titled, ‘Handbook for Improving the Production and Use of Migration Data for Development,’ the report aims to be the go-to guide for integrating migrant priorities, policies and data into national development plans and strategies. It synthesizes best practices and lessons learned across the 16 GMG members, highlighting data needs, sources and gaps, and calling for common measures that allow comparisons migration patterns across countries and regions.

The KNOMAD partnership publishes regularly on ‘Migration and Development,’ and released its 29th brief on the subject in April 2018. This brief focuses on migration and remittances, reviewing trends in remittance and migration flows and the topic of “transit migration” where migrants temporarily stay in a country other than their intended final destination. The brief describes reasons for transit migration (both push and pull factors), regional patterns, and transit migration’s impacts on individuals, families, and the three countries involved (origin, transit and destination). The brief also notes that a significant percentage of transit migration is facilitated by smugglers. A full list of KNOMAD publications is available here.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a report that finds over 2.5 million migrants were smuggled worldwide in 2016. Titled ‘Global Study on Smuggling of Migrants,’ the publication describes major smuggling routes around the world, and quantifies the scope of the issue, estimating that smugglers are collectively paid over US$7 billion per year. It underscores that smugglers expose migrants to risks including violence, theft, exploitation, kidnapping and death.

June 20 marked World Refugee Day. Released one day prior, the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) ‘Global Trends’ report examines forced displacement in 2017. It finds that over 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced as of the end of 2017, 16.2 million of them being displaced that year. More than half of displaced persons are children. Of these figures, the report notes that 40 million people are internally displaced, 25.4 million are refugees who have fled their home countries to escape conflict, and 3.1 million are asylum seekers.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) released a publication titled, ‘Global Report on Internal Displacement.’ The report focuses on the global displacement landscape and regional overviews, progress in reducing internal displacement, and the need for better data. It flags displacement from natural disasters as a key driver within countries, noting the issue as “both a cause and consequence of insecurity and low or unequal economic and social development.” The report sees national sovereignty as an opportunity, calling for country-led strategies to account for internal displacement risk, build governance capacity and integrate the risk into existing mechanisms. Harjeet Singh, ActionAid International, flags the report’s coverage of climate migration in an op-ed on IPS News. Separately, IOM’s Environmental Migration Portal also serves as a platform to share knowledge on the migration-environment nexus.

In its discussion on the budget for 2021-2027, the EU is proposing a near-tripling of funds for migration, asylum and border management. The Center for Global Development reviews the proposal here. Stay tuned for more on the EU budget and aid in the coming weeks.

Additional issues of the SDG Knowledge Weekly can be found here.

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