International migration in Asia and the Pacific is on the rise, with 53 million documented migrants in the region in 2010 and a high number of non-recorded migrants. Whether undertaken for work, study or marriage, migration has had a major social and economic impact on the region. Through international migration, societies have become more open and more diverse. Remittances have become a crucial source of income for both families and the State and have contributed to reduce poverty in many countries of the region. But migration also has a social cost. Migrants’ difficult working conditions combined with limited protection as well as irregular migration and human trafficking are among the major challenges that need to be tackled. Countries of origin of migrants have to address the social changes brought forth by migration, such as those related to family structures and roles—particularly when a mother migrates leaving her children behind. Countries of destination have to tackle issues related to migrants’ integration and provide them with some form of protection. International migration being a cross-border issue, these challenges are best addressed through regional cooperation, both among countries of origin and those of destination.
ESCAP provides a critical intergovernmental platform for Governments and other stakeholders in the Asian and Pacific region to discuss and reach agreement on policies and programmes to better manage international migration flows and improve migrants’ safety, facilitate their access to social protection, as well as combat human trafficking. ESCAP also provides technical support to Governments in the region through:
As part of its coordinating role in the Asian and Pacific region, ESCAP co-chairs the Asia-Pacific Regional Thematic Working Group on International Migration, including Human Trafficking, with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The Working Group, comprising 16 United Nations regional entities, works together to ensure a coherent United Nations system response. The Working Group is currently preparing a comprehensive study on international migration in South and South-West Asia and organizing a regional meeting to be held in September 2010 to support Governments in consolidating an Asia-Pacific position for the Global Forum on Migration and Development. The Global Forum will take place in Mexico in November 2010.