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Largest increase in international migrants in Asia: UN report

IANS  |  United Nations 

Asia saw the largest increase of international migrants in the past decade, and the US remains the most popular destination, says a UN report.

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 to 175 million in 2000 and 154 million in 1990, reported Xinhua citing a report released Wednesday.

The new estimates included breakups by region, country of destination and origin, and by sex and age.

The developed countries were home to 136 million international migrants, compared with 96 million in the developing countries, said the report.

"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.

John Wilmoth, Director of UN-DESA's population division, told reporters in New York that "most international migrants originate in developing country (sic) 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.

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 fuelled by the increasing demand for foreign labour in the oil-producing countries of western Asia and in southeastern Asian countries with rapidly growing economies, such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

The figures showed the US gained the largest absolute number of international migrants between 1990 and 2013 - nearly 23 million - equal to one million additional migrants per year.

The findings also showed that 74 percent of international migrants were of working age, between 20 and 64 years. Women account 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 in New York Oct 3-4.

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First Published: Thu, September 12 2013. 13:54 IST