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Dhaka Tribune

IOM: Bangladesh hosts most stateless people in the world

Côte d’Ivoire and Myanmar with 692,000 and 620,000 stateless people respectively followed the list after Bangladesh

Update : 29 Nov 2019, 09:24 PM

Bangladesh is currently hosting the largest number of stateless people in the world with about 906,000 persons, mainly because of the Rohingya exodus that began in August 2017.

This number is one fourth of the total number of stateless persons globally with 3.9million as of 2018, according to the World Migration Report-2020, launched on Wednesday by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). 

Côte d’Ivoire and Myanmar with 692,000 and 620,000 stateless people respectively followed the list after Bangladesh.

Several hundred thousands of Rohingya fleeing their homeland following violence in Myanmar since August 25, 2017 contributed largely to the mammoth number of stateless people in Bangladesh.

Following the crackdown, mainly on Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar security forces, Bangladesh opened its borders and sheltered these people at the sprawling refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.

“Due to violence and persecution of Rohingya people, Myanmar produced the third largest refugee population in the region, and the fourth largest in the world in 2018, with most refugees hosted in Bangladesh,” said the report. 

There has been an increase in displacement in the subregion due to violence, systemic persecution and marginalization. The Rohingya refugee situation is the most acute, and remains one of the most complex refugee crises in the world, it added.

By the end of 2018, more than 1 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance with the Kutupalong-Balukhali site in Cox’s Bazar continuing to be the biggest and most densely populated refugee settlement in the world in 2018, according to the report.

“While this was not the first time that Rohingyas fled Myanmar as a result of violence, the August 2017 violence prompted one of the largest waves of displacement in decades,” it said.

Bangladesh tried to repatriate the Rohingyas to Myanmar twice, but both attempts-- the first in November 2018 and the latest in August last, failed due to the complete unwillingness of the refugees.

Bangladesh will not make a third, to begin repatriation without the confirmation of success, officials concerned said.

On November 3, Bangladesh said plans to relocate 100,000 Rohingya to Bhashan Char, a remote island, were "uncertain" after authorities failed to gain support from UN agencies.

'Matter of great concern'

Migration expert CR Abrar said it is a matter of great concern that Bangladesh kept sheltering such a huge number of refugees for quite a long time. 

“The international community must step forward to help resolve the issue at the earliest as Bangladesh cannot afford to accommodate the citizens of another country for years,” he said. 

Abrar, also a Dhaka University teacher, said: “The world is treating it as Bangladesh’s own crisis, instead of an international problem. But the global superpowers must raise their voice for a speedy Rohingya repatriation ensuring a congenial atmosphere in Myanmar.” 

Other findings of the report

Five of the world’s top 10 most populous countries are in Asia, with Bangladesh being one of them.

The South Asian country is also among the largest migrant origin countries and territories, securing sixth position.

More than 40% of all international migrants worldwide in 2019 (112 million) were born in Asia, primarily originating from India (the largest country of origin), China, and South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mexico was the second largest country of origin, and the Russian Federation was fourth.

Although Bangladesh was ranked ninth and tenth in 2010, and 2015 respectively in terms of receiving remittances, it failed to secure any position in 2018.

India topped the list this time as its remittance inflows amounted to $79 billion, while remittances in countries including Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh exceeded 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the same year.

Among the top 20 Asian migrant countries, Bangladesh secured fourth position followed by India, Saudi Arabia, and China.

Number of international migrants stands at 270 million globally

The number of international migrants in 2019 is now 270 million with the US remaining destination having nearly 51 million, IOM report finds.

“This figure remains a very small percentage of the world’s population (at 3.5 per cent), meaning that the vast majority of people globally (96.5 per cent) are estimated to be residing in the country in which they were born,” the report furthered.

More than half of all international migrants (141 million) live in Europe and North America.

An estimated 52% are male, and nearly two-thirds of all migrants are looking for work which is around 164 million, reports UN News.

Most migrants from India, Mexico, China

India remains the largest country of origin of international migrants, with 17.5 million living abroad, followed by Mexico (11.8 million) and China (10.7 million).

Other findings indicate that the number of migrant workers declined slightly in high income countries - from 112.3 million to 111.2 million - but increased elsewhere.

Upper middle-income countries saw the biggest increase, from 17.5 million to 30.5 million.

Money sent home reaches $689 billion

International remittances also increased to $689 billion in 2018, making India ($78.6 billion), China ($67.4 billion), Mexico ($35.7 billion) and the Philippines ($34 billion) top beneficiaries.

The US remained the top remittance-issuer, at $68 billion, followed by the United Arab Emirates ($44.4 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($36.1 billion).

Conflict-linked displacement

Highlighting how ongoing violence in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen caused massive internal displacement in the last two years, IOM said 41.3 million people were forced to flee their homes at the end of 2018 – a record since monitoring began in 1998.

Syria has the highest internal population of displaced people, at 6.1 million, followed by Colombia (5.8 million) and the DRC (3.1 million).

After nearly nine years of conflict, Syria is also the top refugee-originating country, at well over six million - dwarfing Afghanistan (around 2.5 million) - out of a total of nearly 26 million.

Finally, turning to the impact of climate and weather disasters, the report notes that Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines contributed to the fact that 3.8 million people were newly displaced there at the end of 2018, the largest number globally.

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