Migration, an increasing phenomenon

On the 3rd of October 2013 a ship coming from the African continent, heading to the Italian mainland sinks on its way. 274 people lose their lives in Italian waters nearby the town of Lampedusa.  After this tragic incident the European Union has come under pressure to find a solution for this problem. Not only concerning the southern borders of the European continent but also coordinate and understand the worldwide stream of immigrants that move between nations every day. 1 2 Next to the fatalities near the Italian mainland, many migrants throughout Asia face the same risks when migrating transnational in search for a better future.

Spiegel states that we live in a “Zeitalter der Migration”. In English this translates to “that we live in the age of migration”. This myth around rising global migration is supposedly refuted by Population Researchers from Vienna. They stated that at least in the last 20 years the global migration has been surprisingly stable showing no real increase. Furthermore since 1995, in every following 5 years approximately 0.6 % of the world population immigrates to another country. Both scientists from the “Wittgenstein-Centers” analyzed data received from the United Nations. This data consists of registering information, surveys and especially refugee statistics gathered globally. Keeping in mind that they used this information with help of own interpretations of the info. The researchers Guy Abel and Nikola Sander found that the global migration between 196 states in a timeframe between 1995 and 2010 surprisingly static. 3   migration_map

Asian Migration Patterns

Inside Asia a steady growth of migrations streams can be noticed. At first, regarding Asian migration there have been two specific changes. Firstly, a vast part of the world’s population is stated as “urban”. With urban we mean that the importance of rural-urban migration is a global force that should not be underestimated. People tend to have the urge migrating to increase their chance in having a better future. Secondly, middle income countries account more of the world’s poor than low income countries. As Asian countries are increasingly creating a broader middle class, the migration of “poor” individuals from these countries will rise. Moreover, specific Asian countries still have a huge demand for migrant workers especially low skilled laborers. According to the ‘International Labour Organisation’ (ILO), which works under the United Nations and speciallizes in labour rights/laws worlwide, are semy-skilled or low-skilled workers in search for a better future. 4 Finally former ‘migration transition’ states, which where only used for transition purposes used by immigrants to end up in their final destination, have become new-destinations. An interesting fact is, as mentioned before, many of these nations are now mid-income nations such as Thailand and nations inside the whole South-East Asian sector. 5

Bridging Asia: Benefits vs. Drawbacks

Secondly, we must make 3 distinctions regarding migration: ”Destination countries, countries with both immigrant and emigrant individuals and nations which are a main source of immigrants”. According to 6 the common known countries that are seen as destination countries are Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan Taiwan, Brunei and South-Korea. Migration transition where known as Malaysia and Thailand, even though this is changing. The countries where most migrants in Asian descend from are for example Burma, Indonesia, Vietnam. 7

“Globalisation can […] be defined as the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa.” – UN Anthony Giddens, 1990

Critics see these large migration streams as a posing danger for migrants themselves. Immigration does not always go by legal means. Human trafficking  is one of the worst ways via which migration can take place. According to the UN crime-fighting office, 2.4 million individuals globally are victims of human trafficking. Even worse 80 % of these 2.4 million are exploited as sexual slaves. 8 Furthermore, according to the ‘Human Rights Watch’ (HRW) the Rohingya minority from Myanmar for example flee Myanmar because of physical and psychological violence to neighboring Thailand. 9. But when entering Thailand they have a high risk of being human trafficked. Reports allege that Thai immigration officials collaborated with the traffickers by transferring Rohingya held in Thailand to the custody of the traffickers according to HRW. These aspects show that immigration of people also have their ‘dark’ sides.



Human Trafficking Issue

“Reports allege that Thai immigration officials collaborated with the traffickers by transferring Rohingya held in Thailand to the custody of the traffickers”- Human Rights Watch

Even though migration flows are always at risk to be linked with human trafficking, numbers show that the greater migrants migrate in their own interest for find better jobs. Next to this, Asian governments are increasingly putting stricter controls on migration flows. By doing this human trafficking risks can be minimized on the long run, even though not expelled forever. 10 Secondly, migration as such brings other benefits with it. It has positive effects on the consumption and growth. Next, one must not forget the large numbers of permanent and study orientated migrants. This number must also be taken into consideration when looking at the global migration scale in a whole. 11 Moreover, the ‘Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) makes migration easier today and in the future inside Southeast Asia. As seeing the European Union as their prime example, the ASEAN tries to open the borders of their member states to create a platform for more political and economical collaboration. This than creates a path for migrant workers seeking a better future.



Concluding even when only 0.6 % of the world’s population can be accounted as an individual that is in the act of migration and that Population Researchers from Vienna have found that immigration flows can be seen as a stagnating phenomenon stating that this is a worldwide phenomenon is wrong. In my opinion, looking at a global scale with a rising globalization of our planet, immigration should actually be growing. Furthermore I think migration is an opportunity for many to be able to build up a future in a foreign country and thus must be seen as something positive. Former low income nations have raised to middle income levels. This makes them prone to migrants searching for jobs and in the end a better future. Asia is a good example of this phenomenon. We as westerners must not just look through our western “glasses” but must look further than Europe. Asia is a hub of migration. Of course critics state that migration also involves a small level of human trafficking practices. These illegal practices will always be a risk but as the borders are slowly loosening between nations with help of ASEAN for example, people look for a better future in masses and most often find it. Dynamics and drivers are the key words when looking at Asian migration. This is a important and growing phenomenon!  


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