Home News International Migrants Day: 5 numbers to understand the situation in the world

International Migrants Day: 5 numbers to understand the situation in the world


Between the situation in Calais, the crisis on the Polish border and the debates of the presidential campaign, the end of the year 2021 was strongly marked by the migration issue. On this International Migrants Day, here are some figures to take stock of the situation.

3.6% of the world’s population are international migrants

According to the most recent figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in 2020 the number of international migrants in the world was estimated at 281 million, or 3.6% of the world population. This percentage has been steadily increasing since 1995.

International migrants refer to “any person located outside the State of which they are nationals”, specifies the IOM. This term encompasses people who plan to migrate permanently or temporarily, whether on a regular or irregular basis.

Contrary to popular belief, these migration flows do not necessarily go from south to north. According to the association for the defense of migrants Cimade, only a third move from a developing country to a developed country and 60% of migration takes place between countries at the same level of development.

740 million internal migrants

The overwhelming majority of people who migrate do so within their own country. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), so-called internal migrants are around 740 million worldwide.

Of these, 48 million have been internally displaced due to conflict or violence, mainly in Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia, Yemen and Afghanistan.

62% of migrants work

According to the latest data from the International Labor Organization (ILO), 169 million migrants were working globally in 2019, which represented almost two-thirds of the world’s international migrant population. These figures are due to be revised downwards due to the health crisis.

In the same year, 67% of these workers resided in high-income countries, 29% in middle-income countries, 3.6% in low-income countries.

Migrants represent 11.6% of the European population

Oceania is the region of the world with the highest proportion of international migrants in relation to its total population: 22% of Oceanians were born in a country other than the one where they reside. North America comes second (15.9% of international migrants), followed by Europe (11.6%), then Latin America and the Caribbean (2.3%), Africa ( 1.9%) and Asia (1.8%).

In absolute terms, Europe receives the largest number of international migrants (87 million), followed closely by Asia (86 million), North America (59 million) and North Africa (25 millions).

India champion of emigration with 18 million nationals abroad

India is the first country of departures, followed by Mexico (11 million emigrants), Russia (around 10.8 million), China (10 million) and Syria (8 million).

As for the countries of destination, the United States comes largely in the lead (51 million international migrants living in the country), followed by Germany (16 million), Saudi Arabia (13 million), Russia (12 million) and the United Kingdom (9 million).