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29/06/2017 - The number of humanitarian refugees arriving in OECD countries peaked in 2016 and governments continue to grapple with a humanitarian crisis. They should focus on helping refugees who are likely to stay in the host country settle and integrate in the labour market and society. This calls for a rethinking of both domestic policies and international co-operation, according to a new OECD report.
The 2017 International Migration Outlook shows that permanent migration flows to the OECD countries have been on the rise, with around 5 million people migrating permanently to OECD countries in 2016, as compared to 4.7 million entries in 2015. This was the third year of increase in a row.
Humanitarian migration was the main driver behind this rise: OECD countries registered more than 1.5 million new asylum requests in 2016, as in 2015, with at least two-thirds of them in European OECD countries. Turkey alone is providing temporary protection to another 3 million Syrians. However, in the first six months of 2017, the total number of landings on European shores reached 85,000, around 10 times less than at the peak in the second half of 2015.
“Improving the integration of immigrants and their children, including refugees, is vital to delivering a more prosperous, inclusive future for all,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, launching the report in Paris with Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship. “While integration is largely a domestic issue, better cooperation at the international level is key to make the progress required and address negative perceptions against migration, which are often rooted in a misconception of the benefit that migrants can bring to recipient countries.” Read the full speech here.
The Outlook says that some countries have stepped up their integration efforts and cites the good examples of the fast-track integration programme introduced in Sweden and the adoption of the first ever law on integration in Germany. But public policies are lagging in other countries and governments should build on positive momentum for further reforms that focus on all migrants.
This year’s Outlook includes a special focus on family migration, which it says should become an urgent priority for governments. More than 1.6 million family migrants received a residence permit in the OECD area in 2015, representing almost 40% of the total permanent migration inflow.
Governments face challenges trying to set rules and conditions for family migration and design the right programmes. The right to family life has to be balanced with the need to ensure that family ties are legitimate and that the family has the means to settle in the new country.
Temporary migration has increased in the OECD, with the number of workers sent by their employers to other EU countries under local contracts reaching 1.5 million in 2015. International recruitment of seasonal workers increased in many countries, particularly sharply in Poland. The number of international students also continues to increase, and new residence permits issued exceeded 1.5 million for the first time in 2015.
For more information, journalists should contact Stefano Scarpetta, OECD Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, (tel. + 33 1 45 24 19 88) or Jean-Christophe Dumont (tel. 33 1 45 24 92 43) in the OECD’s International Migration Division.