World is at a crossroads

Migration is one of the most natural phenomena known to man. People in subsistence societies have always migrated from one place to another, especially with changes in weather that necessitated the search for more sustainable avenues of livelihood. Presently, the same patterns exist, however, the reasons for the search of these sustainable avenues has changed drastically.

With new age maps becoming more concrete, a stateís borderline is an indication of who belongs to it and who isnít a quintessential part of it. Although globalismís borderless world has firmly seeped into the international system, the idea of migrants breaching these covenants still enjoys statesí discretion. The world at large has more than 68 million displaced from their homes.

Tracking patterns

Majority of these people have settled/sought asylum in European countries. This Refugee Crisis highlights a number of important themes; the world is one cohesive unit irrespective of geographical mapping, and the proportion of international migrants has remained the same at about 3pc, however, the migratory patterns have changed significantly. The first theme is an opportunity for the international community to address this global humanitarian crisis, while the second sheds light on how people are leaving a much wider range of countries, and they are heading to a much narrower range of destinations than ever before. This difference in migration from countries of origin to countries of migration is what is primarily causing and sustaining the crisis, constraining the host countries resources and interfering with the social fabric that is idiosyncratically European.

While Europe has coined this term, it isnít the only one affected by the influx of refugees/migrants whoíve come thrashing through its borders. Pakistan has hosted one of the largest Afghan refugee communities in the world up until 2015-2016, when Europe opened its doors to the displaced/refugee population of the Arab Spring Revolution; thereby setting new precedent.

The figure of 68 million people includes a range of migrant groupings. There are a lot of ways in which this figure can be interpreted to get a better understanding of the dynamics of migration. Understanding of each facet presents an opportunity of finding solution to this endemic global-economic restraint.

UNHCR has raised alarms for the record high numbers in forced displacement. These communities have raised economic costs and created political vacuum in their home countries

There is a difference between an economic migrant and a refugee seeking asylum. Economic migration occurs when people migrate from the country of their origin to another in search of improving their standard of living. This hence occurs by choice. A refugee on the other hand is someone who has been forced to flee their country to escape war, persecution, etc.

The 68 million figure includes both types of these migrants. A report published by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said seven in 10 people found crossing the Mediterranean are not legitimate refugees but are economic migrants, while the rest are in genuine ďneed of protectionĒ. This report further states that in 2017, around three quarters (74pc) of all international migrants were of working age, or between 20 and 64 years of age, compared to 57pc of the global population. More than six of every ten international migrants reside in Asia or Europe (80 and 78 million, respectively). Northern America hosts the third largest number (58 million), followed by Africa (25 million), Latin America and the Caribbean (9.5 million) and Oceania (8.4 million).

Challenges for host countries

This means that although the dependency ratio is significantly brought down, the host countryís population suffers from a lack of negotiation power over their salaries, which is affecting the living standards of majority of people in the host countries. But thatís not the only problem. The multi-cultural influences are seen as a danger to the Western values because of which asylum seekers face serious problems of integration. This integration will take a few generations of refugees to be settled. An example of this is Pakistanís decision to grant citizen status to the Afghan refugees, after several generations of these refugees have been born in the country.

However, till then the host governments at large would have to struggle with lost domestic consensus and figure out a way forward. Amidst the growing chaos in the world, and the media covering this crisis, there is an innate need to protect or withhold the sanctity of borders. US President Trumpís crackdown on immigrants, and the UK dropping out of the European Union for pressures of accommodating more refugees are important examples of stern actions taken against the refugees in sheer bewilderment for loss of support at home.

Already the UNHCR has raised alarms for the record high numbers in forced displacement. These communities have raised economic costs and created political vacuum in their home countries, thereby damaging the initial equation of socio-economic development for which the world was to abide by. While that is one part of the argument, there needs to be a thorough understanding of the underlying factors that necessitate this forced displacement. Why must the wars continue? To what end? Is this a global matter, or should it be solved by regional powers alone?

These have to be answered alongside an understanding of the changing demographics and the policies that can be adopted for rehabilitation. Alongside the Afghan refugees, Pakistan also has a large community of Internally Displaced Persons as a result of its ongoing military operations in conflict regions. While the government has announced that this rehabilitation will come soon, no concrete plan has been tabled yet.

While the US grows impatient of the impending influx of refugees from the Northern Triangle of Central America, the world is at a crossroads of understanding this dynamic crisis and proposing solutions to how the current flow can be made sustainable, and the future be avoided.