Migrants, who are they? what rights do they have? (2: refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants)

asylumseekersindonesiaholdonboardprotestvl260osfksnlInternational migrant is an umbrella term that covers many different groups with very different health situations and protective frameworks to help with their health.

One of those groups is refugees. The estimate by the United Nations is that there were about 15 million refugees in 2010. That number on average has actually not increased. If anything, it has decreased slightly over the last decades, although crisis in individual countries may increase the numbers in any given year. Refugees, of course, may experience conditions which jeopardize their health, both physical and mental health, and this can happen both before, during, or after their escape.

They’re also a group where there’s relatively well developed framework for protecting their health. For example the 1951 Refugee Convention. There are also organizations which are specifically charged with helping them, such as the UN High Commission for refugees and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees. But otherwise they are fairly well addressed, as it were, in international frameworks.

AUSTRALIA-IMMIGRATION-POLITICS-REFUGEESOther groups include asylum seekers, which is estimated about one million, and stateless people who are estimated about 12 million people, again not changing very much over time.

However, if we turn to undocumented migrants, some of them who were trafficked, they are facing very special challenges. Numbers for trafficked persons vary. One recent estimate is around 27 million, so much more than the refugees.

Although trafficked persons and principles are also protected by special conventions and regional agreements, they often live by the nature of their work, under the radar, with little access to healthcare.

Similar considerations hold for others who are undocumented. For example, some domestic workers who may be working in families without the benefit of public workplace scrutiny.

As mentioned in the previous article, international migration is not very large scale, accounting for only about 3% of world population.

Please follow our Migration thread this week. (1: Introduction)

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