For a world where migration
is out of choice
not desperation

Situation Report on International Migration 2019

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration
in the Context of the Arab Region

The adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in December 2018 marked a historic milestone in migration governance, driven by the realization that only through cooperation will it be possible to capitalize on migration’s potential for development and address its risks and challenges. It comes at a critical time for the Arab region, which is witnessing unprecedented levels of migration as a region of origin, transit, and destination.


Rola Dashti
Executive Secretary


António Vitorino
Director General
International Organization for Migration


Migration has become a defining feature of our globalized world, with numbers of international migrants growing exponentially over the past couple of decades. Migration has been recognized as a key accelerator for development in both countries of origin and destination; however, it also poses challenges. Consequently, a holistic approach to migration governance is crucial to optimize its overall benefits, offset the risks and challenges it may pose, and make migration work for all individuals and communities in countries of origin, transit and destination. Given the scale of international migration and its transboundary nature, cooperation between countries at the bilateral, subregional, regional and global levels has become an urgent necessity. Recognizing these facts, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) was adopted at an Intergovernmental Conference held in Marrakech, Morocco, on 10 December 2018.

The third edition of the Situation Report on International Migration in the Arab Region marks a key moment when countries set off to implement the objectives agreed upon in GCM. It provides a multidisciplinary and comprehensive overview of migration trends, policy developments, and priority issues in the region to inform policymakers, researchers and practitioners. It builds on previous editions of the Situation Report on International Migration, published in 2015 and 2017, and thus provides an increasingly comprehensive and up-to-date picture of migration in the Arab region over time. In addition, the present report examines regional migration governance in the light of GCM objectives, with an emphasis on full inclusion, access to basic services for migrants, reducing vulnerabilities of migrants, and preventing and combatting the smuggling and trafficking of migrants.

1. Overview of Migration and Displacement Trends in the Arab Region

Data on migration and displacement trends and patterns are essential for better understanding migration and displacement in the Arab region, and for creating evidence-based policies and programmes. Chapter 1 of the Situation Report on International Migration in the Arab Region provides data demonstrating the main migration trends in the region, including the number of people on the move, and migrants and refugees’ countries of origin and destination and their socio-demographic profiles. It provides updates on regionalised data and comparisons of historical trends for the period 1990-2017. The chapter also includes information on remittances to and from the Arab region, and analysis of the main drivers of migration and displacement in the region.

The region is hosting more than 38 million migrants, while the number of migrants from Arab countries exceeds 29 million.

People migrate for different reasons such as work, education, and better opportunities.

Arab countries receive over 54 billion $ a year in remittances, which is double the amount received in official development assistance and double the amount received in foreign direct investment.

2. Developments in Migration Governance in the Arab Region

Chapter 2 of the Situation Report on International Migration in the Arab Region provides an overview of national policies and international cooperation efforts relating to migration governance carried out by Arab countries between April 2017 and March 2019, complementing previous editions of the Situation Report. Main areas of policy development include: nationality and statelessness, labour migration, irregular migration, human trafficking and migrant smuggling, forced displacement and refugees, and admissions and residency procedures. The chapter also describes developments in subregional, regional and global cooperation relating to migration in which Arab countries have been involved.

Arab countries were involved in diverse new policy developments and international efforts on migration governance.

3. Global Compact for Migration: Policy Implications for the Arab Region

In its thematic third chapter, the Situation Report on International Migration in the Arab Region delves further into the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), a visionary document that provides a comprehensive global framework of common values, principles and approaches to international migration governance.

The Situation Report provides a timely analysis of GCM policy implications for migration governance in the region. It addresses three priority areas of migration governance in the Arab countries, namely full inclusion and access of migrants to basic services (with a focus on health services), vulnerabilities in migration, and human trafficking and migrants smuggling. The chapter showcases policies and programmes adopted across the region, and presents recommendations for integrated and comprehensive migration governance in the selected priority areas.

Making migration work for all and ensuring that no one is left behind is a shared responsibility. World leaders recognized this with the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in 2018. The report discusses the Global Compact's policy implications for Arab countries in light of the region's priorities.