This post originally appeared on the European University Institute's Migration Policy Centre blog.
CGD Policy Blogs
Last month, the Bangladeshi government began moving Rohingya refugees from camps in Cox’s Bazar to Bhasan Char, a remote and flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal, against the protests of the United Nations (UN), aid groups, and the refugees themselves.
New research by Refugees International and the Center for Global Development (CGD) finds that Venezuelans in Peru face major barriers that prevent them from integrating into the Peruvian economy. As a result, many are pushed into informal, low-paying jobs that do not match their qualifications. Some are subjected to exploitation and abuse. And because of these factors, Venezuelans are more vulnerable to economic shocks, such as COVID-19.
In 2015, large numbers of refugees fleeing war and terrorism in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq arrived on Europe’s shores. Fear and uncertainty reigned—who would give these people asylum and how would they integrate? The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, remained undaunted. “We can do this!” she announced in August of that year. And do this, they did. In 2015 and 2016, Germany received over one million first-time asylum applications.
The COVID-19 recession has exacerbated the need for economic inclusion to prevent the most vulnerable from falling into poverty and delaying economic recovery. For the private sector, helping refugees participate in the economy is not only the correct ethical choice, but one which will improve its bottom line.
On September 23, the European Commission announced their New Pact on Migration and Asylum, “proposing a fresh start on migration: building confidence through more effective procedures and striking a new balance between responsibility and solidarity.” This focus on strengthening returns and border security is important. But Europe must do more to open up new legal pathways for migration.
Over the past few years, the political and economic crisis in Venezuela has forced nearly 1.8 million Venezuelans to flee to Colombia. The Colombian government has responded warmly, taking steps to integrate Venezuelans into its society and economy. But legal and practical barriers still prevent many Venezuelans from achieving true economic inclusion, the attainment of decent work and income commensurate with their skills.
Today, 1.4 million refugees urgently await resettlement. Unlike the rest of the world’s 26 million refugees, they have been designated by the United Nations (UN) as having vulnerabilities that cannot be addressed in their host countries. They are therefore waiting to be moved from the country hosting them to a third country willing to grant them permanent settlement.
The positive impact undocumented migrants could have would be much larger if they had the legal right to work and live.
The Australian Government has confirmed that labor mobility is key to economic recovery throughout the region and that they will explore options to allow more Pacific Islanders to travel to Australia. As Australia’s flagship investment in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in the Pacific, the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) is therefore having to adapt and pivot its activities to respond to this new reality.