In the wake of April 18th’s tragedy in which hundreds of migrants, largely from Somalia, drowned after a small boat capsized in the Mediterranean, we also have new figures from the International Organization for Migration showing that this is a growing issue. Comparing 2014-15 we see that fatalities during migrants' journeys to Europe have increased by 15%, with at least 3,770 deaths. According to IOM's new report, 2015 experienced the highest migration populations ever recorded and the number of total migrants, which includes all people residing in a country other than their country of birth, increased from 232 million in 2013 to 244 million in 2015. This is strikingly important because while the number of total migrants throughout the world increased by about 5% over the last two years, the number of fatalities just on journeys to Europe have increased by 15% in the past year.
However, while the number of migrants has been very high in 2015, as a proportion of world population, migrants still account for about 3% of the world population as they consistently have over the past few decades.
Often overlooked in the migration discourse in the west, the number of South-South migrants (i.e. migrants from developing countries and living in a different developing country) remains higher than the number of South-North migrants (i.e. migrants from developing countries to a developed country). In 2015, there were 90.2 million South-South migrants and 85.3 South-North migrants.
The IOM report also found that the top three countries with the largest number of migrants in 2015 were the United States with 46.6 million migrants, followed by Germany with 12 million migrants, and finally the Russian Federation with 11.9 million migrants. As a percent of total population, however the top three countries housing migrants are the United Arab Emirates whose population is 88.4% migrants, Qatar whose population is 75.7% migrants, and finally Kuwait with a 73.6% migrant population.
And what about the attitudes to people on the move? Interestingly, the attitude toward migrants was found to be “more favourable than commonly perceived” in all places aside from Europe based on a Gallup poll conducted across 140 countries between 2012 and 2014.