Refugee crisis: hard facts you must know |   Previous Infographics  |   By Lalit Maurya

International migration flows: tracking the trends

In 2015, the world saw the highest levels of forced displacement recorded since World War II. There was a dramatic surge in the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people across the world.


Sensing the need for “safe and orderly migration involving full respect for human rights and the humane treatment of migrants and refugees”, the UN General Assembly has decided to convene a high-level meeting on large movements of migrants and refugees on September 19, 2016.

On this note, we have distilled a staggering volume of data on major people flow across world, the fastest-growing destinations for migrants and the trend of intra-state migration.

The number of international migrants worldwide has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000.

chart shows top ten people flows across world (click on bars to explore more)

Total Migration in 2015
244 million




Between 2000 and 2015, some regional ‘‘corridors’’ grew very rapidly. Asia was one of the fastest growing destinations for migrants from Africa, with an annual average growth rate of 4.2 per cent, equal to an increase of nearly 2 million migrants during this period. For foreign-born people from Asia, the fastest growing corridors outside of Asia were from Asia to Oceania (4.8 per cent increase, yielding 2 million more migrants) and from Asia to North America (2.7 per cent increase, yielding 6 million more).

One of the fastest-growing destinations for migrants originating from Latin America and the Caribbean was Europe (6.4 per cent, or 3 million more). For foreign-born people coming from Europe, one of the fastest-growing destinations was Africa (3.2 per cent, or 0.5 million more), whereas for foreign-born people originating from North America, it was Latin America and the Caribbean (3.4 per cent per annum, or 0.5 million more).

Click on the bars to explore major people flow (over 500,000 migrants) across world

Nearly two-thirds of all international migrants live in Europe (76 million) or Asia (75 million). Northern America hosted the third largest number of international migrants (54 million), followed by Africa (21 million), Latin America and the Caribbean (9 million) and Oceania (8 million).

In 2015, South-South migration flows (across developing countries) continued to grow compared to South-North movements (from developing to developed countries). About 90.2 million international migrants born in developing countries resided in other countries in the Global South, while 85.3 million born in the South resided in countries in the Global North.

Hover mouse on the waves to explore the trends in international migration


Migration of people to and from India
India has the largest diaspora in the world, followed by Mexico and Russia

In 2015, 16 million people from India were living outside of their country. With 12 million people living outside of their country, Mexico is a close second. Other countries with large diasporas included Russia, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Ukraine. Of the 20 countries with the largest number of international migrants living abroad, 11 were in Asia, six in Europe, and one each in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and North America.

Hover mouse on the waves to explore the trends in Indian migration



“Migrants, as all people, deserve protection and empathy”

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted at the United Nations in September 2015, stresses the multidimensional reality of migration. The Agenda calls on countries to:

❶   Implement planned and well-managed migration policies

❷   Eradicate human trafficking

❸   Respect the labour rights of migrant workers

❹   Reduce the transaction costs of migrant remittances

The Agenda also highlights the vulnerability of migrants, refugees and internally displaced people, and emphasises that forced displacement and related humanitarian crises threaten to reverse much of the development progress made in recent decades.

✿    Data Courtesy: International migrant stock 2015, UN

✿   Text and Analysis: Lalit Maurya and Subhojit Goswami

✿    Image Courtesy: UNICEF and Wikipedia




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