December 14, 2021

International Migration Down, Says UN

Posted by Caroline English - Bellissimo Law Group PC

The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply disrupted all forms of human mobility and international migration.  With dramatically reduced cross-border movements, the pandemic has decimated tourism, labour migration, family reunification and halted visa processing across all streams.[1]

According to a report released earlier this month by the United Nations, preliminary estimates suggest that the pandemic may have reduced the number of international migrants by around two million globally by mid-2020, a 27 per cent decline in the growth expected since mid-2019.[2] Prior to the disruptions caused by the pandemic in 2020, the number of international migrants had grown robustly over the past two decades with an estimated 281 million persons living outside of their country of origin in 2020, up from 173 million in 2000 and 221 million in 2010.[3]

The report, International Migration 2020 Highlights, by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), further affirms how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the livelihoods of millions of migrants and highlights ten key messages concerning international migration data in 2020:[4]

  1. The number of international migrants worldwide reached 281 million in 2020;
  2. COVID-19 has curbed the number of international migrants and reduced remittance flows;
  3. Forced displacements across national borders have continued to rise;
  4. Most of the world’s refugees are hosted by low- and middle-income countries;
  5. Nearly two thirds of all international migrants live in high-income countries;
  6. Most of the world’s international migrants live in a small number of countries;
  7. International migration often takes place within regions;
  8. Women and girls comprise 48 per cent of all international migrants;
  9. International migrants tend to be concentrated in working ages;
  10. Most countries have policies to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration

While it is uncertain how and on what timeline human mobility will rebound to its pre-pandemic state, Canada is currently pursuing its most ambitious immigration levels plan ever as it aims to welcome 401,000 immigrants in 2021, another 411,000 in 2022, and an additional 421,000 in 2023.[5]