Migrants from developing countries sent $429 billion to their countries of origin in 2016, Ms Louise Arbour, UN Special Representative for International Migration, has said.
Arbour said this in her remarks to the session on the latest round of consultations on a two-day Global Compact for Migration at UN Headquarters in New York.
She said the $429 billion remittances were some of the migrants’ most tangible contributions to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in developing countries.
She said the remittances were more than three times larger than official development assistance (ODA), and more stable than other forms of private capital flows.
According to her, such transfers to developing countries have lifted millions of families out of poverty, while stressing the need to lower the associated transaction costs to leverage remittances for development.
Migration also provides substantial development benefits to places of destination, for both developed and developing countries, particularly through the contribution of labour migrants of all skills levels, she argued.
The senior UN official regretted that although the net benefits of migration far outweighed its costs, the public perception was often the opposite.
Arbour said “such public perceptions and attitudes negatively influence sound migration policy choices”.
“This must be reversed so that policy is evidence-based and not perception-driven. Policies responding to false perceptions reinforce the apparent validity of these erroneous stereotypes and make recourse to proper policies that much harder”.
The consultation is the fourth in the series of six thematic that will take place this year and feed into the drafting of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, expected to be adopted by UN Member States in 2018.
An outgrowth of the New York Declaration, adopted at a 2016 UN Summit on refugees and migrants, the Compact will be the first intergovernmental negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the UN, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a comprehensive manner.
The current consultation, conducted by representatives of Member States, UN agencies, civil society, migrants and diaspora, examined the challenges and opportunities in leveraging the economic and social contributions of migrants to countries of origin and destination.
In his remarks, Director General of International Organization for Migration (IOM), Mr William Swing, emphasized the advantages of making sure migration is considered in development planning.
Swing cited the need to ensure that migration is seen as an issue affecting all aspects of human development, including human rights, and the importance of mainstreaming migration in the broader development strategy.