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Recent migration trends in and from the MENA region

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Background paper prepared by Martin Baldwin-Edwards for the UNFPA-OECD conference MOBILISING MIGRANTS’ SKILLS FOR DEVELOPMENT IN THE MENA REGION Tunis, 13-14 May 2013
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    MOBILISING MIGRANTS’ SKILLS FOR DEVELOPMENT IN THE MENA REGION    Making the Most of Young Migrants ’   Skills   Conference jointly organized by UNFPA-ASRO & OECD   Tunis, 13-14 May 2013   Conference Background Paper Martin Baldwin-Edwards Mediterranean Migration Observatory, Athens and ICMPD, Vienna R ECENT M IGRATION T RENDS IN AND FROM THE R EGION    Introduction  Patterns of labour migration into, within and from the MENA region were already in flux by the late 2000s, and were then impacted by two massive events  –  the economic crisis of advanced capitalism (most notably the eurozone’s austerity measures in the South ) and the Arab Spring. This paper begins with the state of the region up until the advent of the economic crisis. The effects on migration flows of the economic crisis and the Arab Spring are then examined; this is followed by an evaluation of their implications for managing future labour migration flows concerning the MENA countries. Migration patterns in MENA prior to the global economic crisis A glance at estimates of MENA migrant stocks globally circa 2005 indicates the great variation of migration history across the region (see Fig. 1). Figure 1 Source: Holzmann (2010) In absolute numbers, the greatest stocks of expatriates come from the three North African countries of Morocco, Egypt and Algeria. As a proportion of population, the largest numbers are from West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan. Even Kuwait and Bahrain have emigrant proportions comparable with those of North Africa, though. At face value, these data tell us little more than the extent of past emigration: more detailed analysis of patterns of migration is required.  Broadly, there are three migration systems within the MENA region (Baldwin-Edwards, 2005: 4). These consist of the Maghreb countries 1  (historically large emigration flows, primarily to France), the Mashreq countries 2  with a post-Ottoman migration history amongst them, and the GCC countries 3  where large-scale oil production since the 1970s has utilized mass ‘ temporary ’  labour immigration on a continuous basis. Taking the entire Arab region, labour migration flows are shown for 2008 in Figure 2, below. About 50% of emigration is within the Arab region  –  predominantly to the GCC countries. Half of labour migration is to OECD countries, of which France is the primary destination (see Figure 3). Figure 2 Source: IOM compilation of World Bank data, cited in Haque and Debnath (2010) 1  Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Mauritania 2  Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen 3  Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman  Figure 3 Source: IOM compilation of OECD data, cited in Haque and Debnath (2010) The Maghreb   Over the last decade, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria continued to have France as both the primary locus of their diaspora and also as a major destination country for recent flows. However, new labour migration corridors opened up  –  mostly directed towards Spain and Italy  –  and by 2007 stocks of Moroccans in Spain and France were roughly the same, according to host country data 4  (CARIM database, 17/09/2009). The latest available remittance data 5  (with the caveat of variable remittance behaviour) tend to confirm the importance of Spain and Italy with remittances of 25 and 16 per cent, respectively, of the total for Morocco, in comparison with 28 per cent from France. Remittances to Algeria are almost exclusively from France, while those for Tunisia are primarily from Italy and Libya. Libya, until the revolution, was not a country of significant emigration, but rather of very large labour immigration  –  both regular and irregular. Its immigrant stock in 2005 of between 1.1 and 1.8 million constituted 25-30% of population: they were from Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and sub-Saharan African countries (Baldwin-Edwards 2006: 313). More 4  The stock of Moroccans in France is significantly undercounted, owing to exclusion from the data of those with French citizenship and “sans papiers”. The Moroccan consulate estimate is almost double for that year  (Di Bartolomeo et al., 2009). For both Spain and Italy, the figures are more reliable owing to mass regularizations conducted in the mid-2000s (Baldwin-Edwards and Kraler, 2009). 5  World Bank 2012
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