Foreword

As international migration has gained attention in the global agenda, calls for cooperation to manage international migration have increased. While international migration has acted as an engine for economic and social growth in South and South-West Asia, the full potential of migration has not yet been achieved. Desired outcomes from international migration are most likely to be achieved if countries of origin and destination build consensus and increase cooperation on international migration, including the realization of the rights of migrants within and beyond the region.

The Situation Report on International Migration in South and South-West Asia covers key characteristics and issues of concern regarding migration dynamics across ten countries—Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey. Within these countries live some 1.77 billion people, or 25 per cent of the world’s population. From the remote, mountainous passes of northern Afghanistan to the tiny atolls of the Maldives, South and South-West Asia is characterized by wide geographic and cultural diversity.

Migration dynamics within the subregion are similarly diverse. Migration forms a significant livelihood strategy for countries that range in population from under half a million to more than one billion people, but within this group are both countries of origin and destination, as well as points of transit. The subregion has a large number of regular labour migrants, but also contains the largest irregular and refugee populations in the world.

Due to the complexity and diversity of migration patterns and the notable impact of migration on economic and social development in the subregion, obtaining consistent and reliable information on migration data is of paramount importance to policy-making. In recent years, there has been increasing research on migration issues in South and South-West Asia, but few reports have provided a comprehensive overview of the broad thematic concerns of migration alongside key national issues and data. Such gaps impede even the best efforts of governments, policymakers and practitioners in formulating evidence-informed policy.

The Situation Report on International Migration in South and South-West Asia enhances the understanding of migration issues in South and South-West Asia by providing comprehensive reference material on international migration to assist policymakers and practitioners. The report contains sound policy recommendations on international migration in the subregion, and identifies gaps in knowledge to guide future data collection and research activities. The report serves as a companion document to the 2008 publication, Situation Report on International Migration in East and South-East Asia. Taken together, these two publications provide reference material on international migration covering most of Asia.

The report represents the result of a collaborative effort of the members of the Asia-Pacific RCM Thematic Working Group on International Migration including Human Trafficking, co-chaired by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The goal of the Thematic Working Group is to support the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific by examining the links between migration and development. The Group aims to support government policies and programmes that maximize the benefits and minimize the adverse effects of migration consistent with broader social and economic development goals.

The Thematic Working Group achieves these objectives through collaboration on knowledge generation, information sharing and dissemination of best practices on international migration and development issues in the region.

It is our hope that the end result of this report, as well as the other activities of the Thematic Working Group, will support governments to better manage international migration through official channels in South and South-West Asia, and increase protection of the rights of migrants from, and within, the subregion.

Nanda Krairiksh

Co-Chair
Asia-Pacific RCM Thematic Working
Group on International Migration
including Human Trafficking

Andrew Bruce

Co-Chair
Asia-Pacific RCM Thematic Working
Group on International Migration
including Human Trafficking