UNITED NATIONS, (PNA/Xinhua) — With more people than ever living abroad, Asia sees the largest increase of international migrants in the past decade, and the United States remains the most popular destination, said a UN report released on Wednesday.
New figures from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) showed that 232 million people, or 3.2 percent of the world’s population, live abroad worldwide, compared with 175 million in 2000 and 154 million in 1990.
The new estimates include breakdowns by region and country of destination and origin, and by sex and age. The North, or developed countries, is home to 136 million international migrants, compared with 96 million in the South, or developing countries.
“Migration, when governed fairly, can make a very important contribution to social and economic development both in the countries of origin and in the countries of destination,” said Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.
Migration broadens the opportunities available to individuals and is a crucial means of broadening access to resources and reducing poverty, he said.
Asians and Latin Americans living outside of their home regions form the largest global diaspora groups. In 2013, Asians represented the largest group, accounting for about 19 million migrants living in Europe, some 16 million in Northern America and about 3 million in Oceania.
John Wilmoth, director of UN-DESA’s Population Division, told reporters in New York that “most international migrants originate in developing country but in recent years they have been settling in almost equal number in developed and developing regions.”
The statistics showed Europe and Asia host nearly two-thirds of all international migrants worldwide. Within Europe, Germany and France hosts the largest immigrant communities due to work migration and geographic routes with North Africa.
Compared with other regions of destination, Asia saw the largest increase of international migrants since 2000, adding some 20 million migrants in 13 years.
This growth was mainly fueled by the increasing demand for foreign labor in the oil-producing countries of Western Asia and in South-Eastern Asian countries with rapidly growing economies, such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
“New sources and destinations of migrants are emerging, and in some cases, countries have become important points of origin, transit and destination simultaneously,” Wilmoth said.
The figures showed the United States gained the largest absolute number of international migrants between 1990 and 2013 — nearly 23 million — equal to 1 million additional migrants per year.
The findings also showed that 74 percent of international migrants are of working age, between 20 and 64 years of age, and that are about evenly spread between genders, with women accounting for 48 percent of all international migrants.
The report was released ahead of a high-level global summit on migration and development to be held by the General Assembly in New York on Oct. 3-4.