Over 200 million migrants in the world

Geneva  - There are over 200 million international migrants in the world, a report released Tuesday said, with nearly as many people moving within developing countries as there are migrants from poorer nations moving to rich ones.

The 2008 annual report by the International Organization for Migration, said 61 million migrants had moved from developing countries to other developing countries and 62 million moved on the South-North axis.

An IOM official said that based on studies done after the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, it was likely that the current global credit crunch would lead to many migrants going home, as work dries up, but subsequently returning to their countries of employment in greater numbers once the economic situation picks up again.

The international labour force is estimated to account for 3 per cent of the global work force, but in some areas, like the Gulf countries, foreigners can make up over 40 percent of workers.

Europe, including Central Asian countries, was the largest host of migrants, with an estimate 70 million foreigners, followed by North America with 45 million.

Germany, with over 10 million migrants in 2005, led Europe as the largest destination for workers, followed by France with 6.5 million and the UK with 5.4 million.

According to the IOM, without migration from Africa and Asia, the work force in developed nations is expected to decrease by 23 per cent by 2050 due to lower birth rates.

Some 337 million dollars in remittances were sent through official channels in 2007, a 99 percent increase over 2002, with 251 million going to developing nations.

Due to the financial crisis, that number is expected to decrease in the upcoming year, analysts have said.

Undocumented workers, or so-called "irregular migrants," made up about 15 per cent of the global migration count, the report said. (dpa)