The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was adopted in September 2015, set to be achieved by 2030. The tenth goal directly targets the rising inequality and reducing it by the set year. One of the main concerns of this target is migratory and mobility problems. The pandemic has brought about unprecedented restrictions and complications on borders and restrictions on smooth as well as safe migration. An estimated 281 million people, approximately 3.6% of the world’s population, currently live outside their country of origin.
Target 10.7 directly targets migrant population (international migrants and migrant workers) who leave his/her country of usual residence with the documented intention to work in another country, as a wage or salary earner. The mission statement of goal ten to reduce inequality clearly calls for inclusions of poor migrant workers and betterment of their status with the collective efforts of intergovernmental policies which can ensure better wages, living standards and safe migration. About 10 of the 17 goals directly or indirectly are significant to this issue. The International Organisation for Migration (IMO) with its 162 member states has continued to work on this issue since the adoption of SDG in 2015. It has stayed dedicated to review migration situations and come up with better policies to fulfil the initial goal of reducing inequalities by 2030.
Economic status of migrants as a concern
The first indicator for target 10.7 is defined as “Recruitment cost borne by employee as a proportion of monthly income earned in country of destination”. The rapidly increasing social and economic cost is poses a serious obstacle to achieving sustainable development goals. One of the main aims of migration policies are to reduce the financial cost incurred by recruitment of those workers who are seeking to work overseas. A large amount of their pays go to recruitment agencies they are seeking, resulting in major drain of their income. Out of the 10 million people using regular channels for migration, a large number pays illegal fees to their recruitment agencies. This poses a high level of risks for especially workers seeking jobs of low skills. This includes forced labour, debt bondage and human trafficking. Often they are targeted to workplace abuse as well. The international community, such as through the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third UN International Conference on Financing for Development declared the essential need to lower the cost of recruitment for migrant workers.
Policymakers should build an objective to eliminate illegal recruitment fees through require effective regulation and monitoring of recruitment agencies and combating immoral recruiters implemented in collaboration between the sending and the receiving countries of the migrants.
The statistics used for the numerators and denominators for indicator 10.7.1 should be based on costs and earnings observed for the same individual international migrant worker. The data is to be collected primarily by using existing data collection systems such as household-based surveys.
Policy adoption to ensure safe migration and mobility
SDG indicator 10.7.2 resolves to find out the “number of countries with migration policies that facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people”. Developed by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to inform the global review of SDG target 10.7, it aims to describe the state of national migration policies and how such policies change over time. The information that is collected tries to identify the progress made through these migration policies and gaps that still exists. Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF) proposes three objectives: Socio-economic well-being of migrants and society, effective responses to the mobility dimensions of crisis and safe, orderly and dignified pathways and migration. No further agreements, laws or practices are required to achieve these objectives except the ones that currently exist. A cohesive and all-inclusive way of governance of migration is assured through these objectives as well as swift response to the needs for assistance, building flexibility of individuals and communities, as well as ensuring opportunities for the economic and social health of the State. Though not defined clearly, migration governance refers to systematic policies, legal frameworks, and practices aimed at regulation and protection of migrants. Facilities to be provided to encourage regular and safe migration through for example, streamlined visa processing.
The case of missing migrants
The third indicator points towards the issue of “The number of people who have died or disappeared in the process of migration towards an international destination”. Though most of the migration is done in safe and orderly processes there is still a portion that gets left behind. Keeping in mind the motto of the tenth sustainable development goal “no one gets let behind” there is a need to focus towards those to experience discrimination and exploitation in the process. Even with mobility facilities, tens of thousands of people embark on dangerous journeys that cost a significant number of lives to be lost. As reported in SDG report 2020, 4,186 deaths and disappearances were recorded on migratory routes worldwide as well as death of 849 people on an enroute to Canary Islands in the same year. The numbers may be slightly higher than the ones reported. Despite these significant casualties, comprehensive policies by countries are yet to be taken. As per the 2020 UN report, Out of the data present for 111 countries, only 54% had taken up comprehensive policies for safe migration.
The Missing migration report groups and categorizes regions by migration patterns. Some regions are combined for example Europe is grouped into one category instead of four and the US-Mexico is combined as one because it has a certain context to migration deaths and disappearances.
The fourth and last indicator under this target defines “Proportions of population who are refugees by country of origin”. As defined by the United Nations, “Refugees are persons who are outside their country of origin for reasons of feared persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or other circumstances that have seriously disturbed public order and, as a result, require international protection”. By 2020, the numbers of refugees have reached the highest- double since 2010 – it’s ever been at 25 million refugees worldwide. There are 307 are refugees outside their country of origin, for every 100,000 persons. The estimates of refugees per country are collected bi-annually. By country of origin, Northern Africa and Western Asia saw the numbers increase from 579 to 1, 523 per 100,000 between 2010 and 2020. Latin Americans and Caribbean refugees increased from 80 to 620 out of 100,000 in the same period.
Before the wave of COVID hit worldwide, several actions against inequality were moving in the positive direction. Inequality had fallen significantly in various countries; however, the pandemic has intensified inequalities in developing countries and leaving some people more vulnerable than ever. The Sustainable development goals are a worldwide effort to socially unbiased and environmentally sustainable future, where no one is left behind.