The slow and uneven recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic prompted new patterns of movement in parts of the world in 2021. New conflicts also erupted, ongoing crises smoldered, and migrants were often stuck in the middle. Our annual Migration Information Source Top 10 countdown reviews what we consider to be the year's most important migration trends and events.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a sweeping impact on global migration and mobility in 2020. The year also saw further erosion of the humanitarian protection system, movement sparked by natural disasters, and other major developments. Check out our annual countdown of what we see as the most significant migration developments of the year.
Governments on the receiving end of migrants and refugees reinforced their commitment to returns in 2017, sending or coercing migrants to move back to impoverished or violent homelands. The Dominican Republic pushed out some 70,000 Haitians and native born of Haitian descent, while more than 500,000 Afghans left Iran and Pakistan. Though many of these migrants chose to return, in practice the line between forced and voluntary returns is blurry.
Authoritarian states have long attempted to restrict citizens’ movement. But what happens when their reach extends beyond their borders? The October 2018 assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi brought into sharp relief the long arm of these regimes in reaching citizens abroad. This phenomenon, “transnational authoritarianism,” further shows that the relationship between migration and authoritarianism is becoming more complex.
Climate-related displacement is not hypothetical: An average of 21.5 million people per year have been displaced since 2008 by natural disasters, and thousands more have fled slow-onset environmental hazards. While migration can serve as a safety valve to adapt to changing conditions, few orderly, legal channels exist for climate migrants (also known as environmental migrants), as this article explores.
Numerous researchers and organizations have predicted that climate change will trigger historically unprecedented waves of mass migration. MPI's Carolina Fritz examines the complex links between climate change and migration, how and where these links influence current and future migration patterns, and some of the problems with predicting future flows.