India tops the world in terms of number of migrants sent abroad and more than half of the 16.59 million live in the Gulf region, according to a UN report.
The 2017 International Migration Report released on Monday showed that during this century's period of rapid globalisation, the number of Indian migrants doubled from 7.98 million in 2000. Mexico sent out 13 million migrants, the second highest number.
The definition of international migrants used in the report is broad, taking into account anyone living in a country other than their own and includes refugees and economic migrants, both those immigrating officially and those who do so "irregularly", said Bela Hovy, the chief of the Migration Section of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, who spoke to reporters after the report's release.
The numbers are not a count of people by national origin or ethnicity and, therefore, do not include children of migrants born in the countries their parents went to. The United Arab Emirates has the largest number of Indian migrants, with 3.31 million, up from 978,992 in 2000, followed by the US with 2.3 million, up from 1.04 million, the report said.
In all the Gulf countries together, Indians totaled 8.9 million, according to the report. Of them, 2.27 million were in Saudi Arabia, 1.2 million in Oman and 1.16 million in Kuwait. The number of migrant from other countries living in India is 5.2 million, a fall of 1.22 million from 2000.
Most of the international migration takes place among developing countries with 60 percent of the migrants from Asia going to other Asian countries, Hovy said. He said that about $400 billion is sent to developing countries by the migrants and the remittances are used to finance education, housing and other activities that promote development.
In Europe, there are 1.3 million people from India, almost double the 665,105 in 2000, according to the report. Britain has most of them — 836,524, up from 452,144 in 2000. Canada now has 602,144 people from India, an increase from 319,138 in 2000. Australia showed a huge jump of more than four times, from 90,719 people from India in 2000 to 408,880 now.
In the current political climate, "migration has become a toxic" topic, said Leonard Doyle, the spokesperson for International Migration Organisation's Director-General William Lacy Swing.
As a result, migrating is a problem for those outside the "global elite" made up of professionals who can move easily to other countries, he said. He added, there was, therefore, the need for policies to take care of the migrants who do not fall in that category.
With inputs from IANS