There are more than 250 million migrants today, representing the highest number since World War II, and possibly ever. Migrants leave their homes for diverse reasons. They may be seeking better jobs and access to better health care. They may be running from famine, war, or natural disasters. They may also be fleeing persecution and looking for political and religious freedoms they do not enjoy at home. Often, a combination of these factors pushes people to leave and pulls them toward their new homes.
The United Nations’ landmark 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees defined refugees and outlined the rights accorded them, setting one international standard for migration policy. But in an era in which many countries are either unable or unwilling to meet this standard and migration shows no sign of ceasing, the world needs to not only consider how to welcome migrants but also address the factors pushing them to migrate in the first place.
In this module, we will
- learn about the different classifications of migrants, and why these distinctions matter;
- outline where migrants come from, where they go, and what makes current migration patterns unique;
- understand migration’s effects on a country when it sends a significant portion of its population abroad;
- examine the ways in which governments justify their migration policies; and finally,
- take a tour of the largest groups of internally displaced persons, those who do not cross an international border and face unique challenges.