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Policy Brief n°4: Migration and Development

Published 2 September 2019 in Analysis

Conflict, poverty, climate change and political instability contribute to migration. An increase in the numbers of those making their way to Europe in search of a better life has also sparked a new debate on the role of development aid in migration.

In this context, international migration has become a recurring feature when it comes to defining public development aid, something which worries many development actors who are concerned about the political nature of the debate and how development aid might become either the scapegoat or go-to fund for solving migratory issues.

This is especially true given a lack of clear understanding on both migration and development aid by the general public, and the emotive responses that either can generate.

For example, even though the number of refugees has risen in OECD and European countries since 2015, it is in fact developing countries themselves who continue to absorb 85% of refugees throughout the world.

The percentage of official development assistance (ODA) allocated to receiving refugees in host donor countries has doubled since 2014, to 14.2 million USD in 2017 or around 10% of total OECD aid.

This is troubling when donors or international organisations use ODA as a way to control migration, contrary to the Sustainable Development Goals, and is massively contested by NGOs who reject any form of making ODA conditional on a reduction in migration from the recipient country. And yet this sort of condition is increasingly supported by politicians.

Migration is also a victim of negative connotations. Far from seeing it as a security or economic risk, migration is also a factor of development for host countries as well as those of origin and transit. For example, once they have found employment, many migrants send back funding to their families which enables a better standard of life and local economic development in their original communities. In 2017, these transfers - known as "remittances" represented 466 billion USD - a record high, and three times the amount of ODA.

You can download Policy Brief n°4 in French here. An English translation is forthcoming.


Documents to download

Note d’analyse n°4 : Développement et migrations, quel rôle pour l’aide publique au développement