It is my pleasure to open the inaugural OECD-IOM-UNDESA International Forum on Migration Statistics. We have a lot of ground to cover! The Forum includes over 240 high-level speakers and 700 registered participants from more than 90 countries. A warm welcome to you all, including those following us live on the web.
The migration crisis is far from over, while the peak of the humanitarian refugee crisis is hopefully behind us, flows to some European countries are still increasing. Close to 70,000 people have arrived to Italy from Libya this year, compared to 56,000 in the same period of last year. Conflicts in Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria keep pushing people to crowded and unsafe boats on the Mediterranean.
Hosting 160 million migrants accounting for 66% of the world’s international migrants, G20 countries are at the centre of global migration, and many of them have seen a significant rise in migration recently. I commend the German Presidency for putting this high on the G20 agenda.
Many in host countries are quick to view migrants and refugees as a threat, fearing the burden they may impose on taxpayers, local values and cultures. In this atmosphere, it can be difficult to set out the facts and the evidence needed to inform a balanced public debate.
We must unite to tackle the challenges of migration in today’s globalised world. Our International Migration Outlook helps put the facts on the table, and offers some pointers for the way forward. Now we need to move to implementation.
United, we can tackle the challenges that arise with large movements of migrants and refugees. Together, we can improve our policies to unleash the potential of migrants. Migration is not a threat, it is a hope, the hope of the migrants and their family for a better life and for all of us for a more prosperous and harmonious world.
The OECD and CEB have led global work on migration for decades: the OECD has contributed analysis, data, knowledge, and tools to inform dialogue and shape policy; and CEB has worked on the frontlines, financing social projects for migrants, refugees, displaced persons, and other vulnerable groups. Given the complementarities between our work, the potential synergies from co-operation are clear.
With the right approach and policies, all countries ─ origin, transit and host ─ can harness the benefits of migration and open up new opportunities for economic and social growth at national, regional and international levels. The OECD remains fully committed to advancing an ambitious, comprehensive and coordinated global agenda to help navigate the current refugee crisis and better harness the strengths and skills of migrants.
In 2015, more than 1 million people crossed the Mediterranean Sea in search of international protection. 1.5 million claimed asylum in OECD countries. This is almost twice the number recorded in 2014. At the same time, they represent only about 0.1% of the total OECD population, and, even in Europe, they represent less than 0.3% of the total EU population. Europe has the capacity and the experience to deal with this inflow.
Taking into account the severity of the crisis, a strong response of the international community is required to provide adequate support to the many refugees and asylum seekers and to better share the cost and strengthen international coordination.