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OECD: Eastern Europe Fuels Rise In Migration

  • Kathleen Moore

http://gdb.rferl.org/894D0559-B4FD-47CA-BA40-9F46F5D0D5AA_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/894D0559-B4FD-47CA-BA40-9F46F5D0D5AA_mw800_mh600.jpg Immigration rose sharply in the United States for the first time since the restrictions imposed after September 11, 2001 (epa) PRAGUE, June 8, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Migration to rich countries has risen sharply, while the number of asylum seekers is down, according to a new report out today by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It says long-term migration to its member countries rose some 15 percent in 2004, and a growing number of migrants are coming from Ukraine, Russia, and Latin America.

The OECD says this is the first time statistics give a comparable picture of migration flows. To do that, the group only counted people with long-term residency, and not students, seasonal workers, or illegal migrants.

General Rise In Migration

The figures vary widely from country to country -- Finland, for example, saw numbers drop by a quarter. The United Kingdom, which opened its labor markets to new European Union members, saw migration rise by the same amount. But across the area, some 3 million long-term immigrants entered in 2004, a rise of some 15 percent.
"There are a number of countries where there have been substantial
increases. Australia has increasing migration, the United Kingdom,
Italy, and Spain -- these are countries that are essentially going
after workers."


The OECD's Georges Lemaitre says that's partly due to a 34 percent increase in migration to the United States.

"In the United States, the Green Cards have gone back up after a temporary downturn due to restrictions that were introduced following September 11," he says. "But there are a number of countries where there have been substantial increases. Australia has increasing migration, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain -- these are countries that are essentially going after workers."

More Students, Less Refugees

The report, the "International Migration Outlook," noted some other recent trends. One was a large rise in the numbers of international students -- an increase of some 45 percent between 1998 and 2003. Requests for asylum continued down, falling by one-fifth in 2004. And more and more migrants are coming from Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America.

In 2004, more Romanians than any other nationality, 196,000, migrated to OECD countries. And Ukraine and Russia each sent over 65,000.

"The countries on the border [of the OECD area in Europe] do allow movements in, generally on temporary work permits, and you're seeing most of the movements in those border countries [or close to it] -- the Czech Republic, Slovakia," Lemaitre says. "Most of the movements into those countries for temporary work are coming from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, etc."

The report says the OECD is likely to need more workers to migrate there in the future. That's because populations in rich countries are ageing, while interest in some occupations, like construction, is falling.

The OECD has 30 member states, including most of the EU members plus Canada, Mexico, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, and Japan.
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