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UN: COVID Altered Migrant Mobility     12/01 06:20


   GENEVA (AP) -- The U.N. migration agency says the coronavirus pandemic 
appears to have accelerated "hostile rhetoric" against migrants in the world 
and "radically altered" mobility, projecting in a new report that travel and 
other COVID-19-fighting restrictions could dampen migration worldwide as long 
as they remain.

   The International Organization for Migration released Wednesday its World 
Migration Report 2022, a vast compendium of the latest trends in human movement 
of all types -- from people fleeing war to workers seeking jobs abroad -- and a 
recap of the last two years of mobility. It cited the impact, for example, of a 
plunge in air travel last year as the pandemic was raging.

   IOM pointed to a "dramatic increase" in internal displacement -- movement 
within countries -- caused by natural disasters, conflict and violence just as 
COVID-19 restrictions have sporadically shut borders across the globe since the 
pandemic emerged and spread over the last two years.

   "The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered immobility worldwide to an extent 
unseen in recent history, slowing the pace of human mobility and migration," 
said Ugochi Daniels, IOM's deputy director-general for operations, at a meeting 
of its member states. "The pandemic is estimated to have negatively impacted 
the total growth of international migrants by 2 million."

   IOM Director-General Antonio Vitorino said "the pandemic also seems to have 
accelerated the hostile rhetoric toward migrants that has been growing in the 
last decade."

   "So we have devoted, in this report, a chapter on disinformation about 
migration," he said. "Our research shows that debunking myth, as well as 
pre-bunking strategies, can help to mitigate or prevent harm caused by 
nefarious actors, who seek to undermine balanced discussions on migration."

   The report tallied about 281 million international migrants -- not 283 
million as initially expected -- around the world by its latest complete count 
in 2020, amounting to just 3.6% of the global population. That was up from 272 
million in 2019. About 60% of those migrants last year were migrant workers, it 

   IOM noted that migration is increasingly taking place between highly 
developed countries, not just from poorer countries to rich ones.

   International remittances -- people sending money back home -- dropped to 
$702 billion in 2020, compared to $719 billion a year earlier, but marked a 
smaller decline than expected.

   "The resilience of migrants' international remittances has defied 
predictions, remaining high in 2020, with just a 2.4% decline globally -- and 
much less dire than the 20 % drop initially projected," Daniels said.

   About 3,900 people died while on the move last year, down from 5,400 in 
2019, IOM said.

   The report highlighted "major migration and displacement events," including 
conflicts in places like Syria, Yemen, Congo, Central African Republic and 
South Sudan, as well as political and economic instability like Venezuela and 
Afghanistan in the period. It also cited climate and weather related 
displacement in places like China, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Haiti 
and the United States over the last two years.

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