Labour Migration

Thematic Info-Sheet 

Countries: 

Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia 

Emergencies: 

Libya 

Covering period:  

2017 

Contact Name(s):  

Roberto Cancel 

 

Labour Migration – Regional Overview 

Overall situation  

International labour migration is defined as the movement of people from one country to another for the purpose of employment. ILO estimates over 150 million persons are working in a country other than their country of birth. Despite the efforts made to ensure the protection of migrant workers, many remain vulnerable and assume significant risks during the migration process. When properly managed, labour migration has far-reaching potential for the migrants, their communities, the countries of origin and destination, and for employers. A growing number of both sending and receiving countries view international labour migration as an integral part of their national development and employment strategies. On one hand, countries of origin benefit from labour migration because it relieves unemployment pressures and contributes to development through the transfer of human, financial, and social capital. On the other hand, migrant workers directly contribute to host economies by filling labour market gaps, stimulating local demand for goods and services, as well as paying taxes to the State.  

Estimates of labour migrants suggest that 12 per cent of the world’s labour migrants were in the Arab region mainly in the GCC where migrants comprise roughly 67 per cent of all workers as of 2013.1 In absolute terms, Saudi Arabia hosts the largest number of migrants with 10.2 million in 2015 however the share of migrants among the total population was greatest in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at 88.4 per cent and more particularly within the Emirate of Dubai where migrants constitute 91 per cent the population.2 This can be compared with the Maghreb which hosted 1,158,749 migrants in 2015 the majority of which, 771,146 migrants, were in Libya which also had the highest proportion of migrants as a share of the total population with 12.3 per cent, while in other Maghreb countries migrants represented less than one per cent of the total populations. While countries in the Maghreb are largely considered exporters of labour, primarily to Europe, as illustrated above the subregion and especially Libya also attracts labour from other Maghreb countries and Sub-Saharan Africa. 

IOM works for an orderly, safe and regular migration. It aims to guarantee a safe return home for migrants and effective reintegration. IOM would also like to draw the attention to the following pertaining issues: 

  • CONTINUED NEEDS FOR INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION 

  • VULNERABILITIES ON THE INCREASE 

  • HOST GOVERNMENTS CONTINUE TO BEAR THE BURDEN 

  • FUNDING NOT KEEPING UP WITH NEEDS 

  •  Figures from 2017 

# of institutions provided with technical assistance to promote and facilitate safe and regular labour mobility to and/or from the country. 

30 

# of government officials trained on aspects of promoting labour mobility. 

10 

# of studies on labour migration to and from the region conducted. 

# of international dialogues on labour mobility supported. 

 

FUNDING 

Over 950,000 USD  

PARTNERS & DONORS 

IOM Development Fund – Morocco, Egypt, and regional including Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia 

Kingdom of Belgium – Tunisia, managed by IOM Belgium 

Labour Market Regulatory Authority of Bahrain – Bahrain 

MIRAC – Regional including Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco