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Global Migration

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Global Migration

Since the dawn of men, people have migrated. Communities across the world have been formed through this process, even to this day. People migrate now more than ever before. Sometimes people choose to move for anything from employment to better weather. In some cases, however, migration is involuntary. Whatever the reason, migration can bear a big impact on people's lives. Have you ever lived in another country? Do you know anybody who has? Read on to find out more about migration around the world.

Define global migration

Another term for global migration is international migration. This type of migration occurs when people cross state boundaries and stay in a host state for a certain amount of time. People migrate (move) across the globe, either voluntarily or involuntarily (forced). With the latter, the movement is not of the person's own will, where people may be forced to migrate from conflict or natural disaster. This freedom of movement is a protected human right. You can read more about human rights in our Human Rights explanation!

The geographical definition of migration is the movement of people across a specified boundary to establish a new permanent or semi-permanent residence.

Global Migration, Ukrainian Refugees, StudySmarterUkrainian refugees escaping conflict in their home country, Wikimedia

Globalisation has caused a rise in migration (both global and internal), with increased industrialisation and labour globally.

Migrants

A migrant is a person who is moving from one place to another. Someone may be considered a migrant regardless of a person's legal status, the cause of migration (voluntary or involuntary), or how long they intend to stay.

There are different types of migrants. Let's define them.

Asylum seeker: this is a person who is applying for asylum. Usually, asylum seekers have had to flee their home countries and cannot return due to fear of persecution, or even death. An asylum seeker searches for international protection, however, the claim for refugee status has not yet (and may not at all) been granted.

Refugee: A refugee describes someone who is leaving a country (or fleeing), due to things like conflict or natural disaster, or other forms of persecution. Legally speaking, a refugee is an asylum seeker whose claim for asylum has been successful, meaning they are granted refugee status in a new country to live there permanently.

Economic migrant: a person who has voluntarily left their country of origin to seek, by legal or illegal means, employment in another country.

Global Migration, Origin of asylum seekers map, StudySmarterA world map showing the number of asylum seekers by country of origin in 2009, Wikimedia

Types of migration

Although migration always involves the movement of a person from one place to another, there can be many reasons for this movement and many different ways it can occur. This gives rise to different types of migration:

Labour migration

Labour migration is the movement of individuals from one country to another for work, or in response to recruitment drives. High-skilled labour migration is a type of migration most demanded by host countries looking to attract highly skilled workers. In most cases, countries seek highly skilled workers in certain occupations when there is a shortage. This type of migration is not as common.

The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) of Australia offers an example. This is a list that displays the job sectors where there is a shortage.

Temporary migration is also a characteristic of labour migration, where people migrate for the specific purpose of working. In some cases, people may migrate who have low skill levels, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and human rights violations. In some cases, this migration can be illegal.

Within many countries, the ability to migrate is dependent on the skill level or education. In some places, like Australia, this is more visible, with their point-based entry system. In the EU, this is not as common, therefore more unskilled worker migration can be facilitated.

Take a look at our Migration and Capital explanation for more information on the EU and the Schengen Zone.

Forced migration

Forced migration may occur when people are forced to flee their home country due to conflict or political repression (refugees and asylum seekers). Forced migration can also happen due to natural disasters, limited food production and water insecurity, (often exacerbated by climate change). Human trafficking is also characterised by forced migration.

Take a look at our Consequences of Migration explanation, for more information on human trafficking.

International Retirement Migration (IRM)

Retired people may have the financial power to buy properties abroad, which can be either a first or a second home. These people put a lot of pressure on urbanisation and the mass construction of housing, significantly in coastal and rural areas. This type of migration can also include people leaving their job and moving to a rural location in another country. These people may telework or set up a business.

Internal migration

Separately to international and global migration, this type of migration involves a person moving from one area to another within the same country, such as from the north of England to the south of England. No international borders are crossed. This type of migration crosses over with 'Rural-Urban' migration, or 'Counter-Urbanisation'.

Why do people migrate?

International migration can have so-called 'push' and 'pull' factors:

Push factors are based upon the country of origin. These are factors which may cause the migrants to have the desire to move.

Pull factors are based upon the intended destination of the migrant (the host country). These are factors that attract people to a new place.

Push factors

  • Wars, conflict, political instability, and economic crisis
  • Ethnic and religious persecution
  • Natural and man-made disasters, such as earthquakes
  • Poverty
  • Unemployment, low wages and poor working conditions
  • Shortages of food, water, or healthcare
  • Limited opportunities

Pull factors

  • Better quality of life and standard of living
  • Varied employment opportunities, higher wages
  • Better healthcare and access to education services
  • Political stability, more freedom
  • Better life prospects
  • For retirees; a range of services to cater to their needs, or environmental characteristics, such as the coast.

Some other reasons for global migration can be things like family reunification, or even the 'just because' factor!

Global migration patterns

People migrate all the time, willingly or unwillingly, and different migration patterns can be seen throughout the decades. Take a look at the migration timeline below to see migration patterns throughout history.

Global migration issues and effects

Global, or international migration has demographic, health, social, economic, political and even environmental implications. Let's take a look.

Take a look at our Consequences of Migration article for more detail and examples!

Implications of global migration

When we consider the implications of global migration, we divide them into demographic, health and social, economic, political and environmental implications:

Demographic implications

In the origin country, populations of childbearing age will leave, causing birth rates to drop, Younger workers tend to migrate, leaving behind an older generation, resulting in an unbalanced and ageing population in the origin country. Comparatively, in the host country, the youthful working population will boom, birth rates may increase, and general population numbers will rise. In some cases, male migrants may dominate, creating a further gender imbalance in both origin and host countries.

Health and social implications

Demographic and population change can relieve pressure on healthcare and education systems, if population rates reduce in an origin country. More significantly, however, there may also be a loss of qualified workers (doctors, nurses, teachers), due to increased wages and better prospects elsewhere, which can impact the economy and development levels. In the host country, pressure on schools (specifically primary schools) and healthcare services (maternal and infant) may increase, as the population rises. Ethnic and racial tensions may also increase, alongside segregation issues. Some migrants, particularly asylum seekers and refugees, are vulnerable to human trafficking. The movement of people away from an origin country can cause a break-up of communities, family units, and even a loss of traditional culture. On the other hand, cultural diversity will increase in the host country, with the introduction of new foods, music, and fashion.

Economic implications

In the origin country, there may be a reduction in pressures on food, water and energy supplies, reduced agricultural and industrial production, as well as a general decline in services, with fewer people to support them. With a reduced workforce and the loss of the most educated and skilled workforce members, development is hindered. Migrants often send money back to their origin country in the form of remittances; this is often not enough to support the economic decline from migration, which may cause dependency. In some cases, migrants can develop new skills to be able to bring back to their origin country.

In the host country, the workforce will increase, overcoming any labour or specific skill shortages, and the economy can be improved, as migrants spend money and pay taxes. However, pressure on jobs may lead to higher unemployment rates during periods of economic downturn, and the workforce may become more competitive, where migrants are typically willing to work longer and harder for relatively low pay. In times of recession, migrant resentment may be higher.

Political implications

In the origin country, pressure may increase for policies to be initiated to re-develop areas which are declining. Other policies may also be introduced, such as pro-natal policies, or even incentives to help retain skilled workers. Some governments of countries with high populations may encourage migration for socio-economic advantages, or as an anti-natal strategy. In the host country, however, more issues could occur; with negative views toward migration, pressure for migration control may rise, as well as anti-immigration political parties, and right-wing organisations. With more nationalistic views, migration can often clash. In some places, 'closed-door' migration policies exist, which can hinder movement. Think about the UK and Brexit, or even North Korea.

Environmental implications

In the origin country, abandonment can occur; farmland, buildings, and whole villages can be left behind, while environmental management also decreases. In the host country, there may be increased pressure on land for development and infrastructure, such as roads or housing. Resource pressure will also increase, as the demand for energy, water, and food rises.

Using examples in your exam answers is vital, think about migration examples such as the migration of Turkish people to Germany.

Global Compact for Migration

Approximately 258 million people around the world are migrants. This number is expected to grow as the population increases, trade improves, and inequality rises. While migration can be extremely beneficial, poorly regulated migration can pose significant challenges. The social infrastructures of the host country can often be overwhelmed, or dangerous migrant journeys can increase the likelihood of migrant death.

What is the GCM?

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM) is a governmental agreement prepared under the United Nations' sponsorship.

It was decided by the UN General Assembly in 2016 that an agreement should be developed to make migration safer. The development process started in April 2017, and in July 2018, the UN finalised the text for the GCM. This GCM was formally endorsed in December 2018, through voting. 152 countries voted in favour, 5 voted against, 12 remained neutral, and 24 didn't vote.

The GCM is not an international treaty; it is a non-binding scheme under international law.

The GCM is known as a compact. There are no laws for countries to abide by. Instead, it has commitments or goals that countries are aiming to achieve. This means looking into the factors that push people to migrate and investing in ways to give people a better quality of life. When migration is necessary, the aim is to create conditions that enable migrants to move under safer circumstances, protect migrants from discrimination, and recognise their contributions to the new societies they move to.

Global migration crisis

According to the UN Refugee Agency, at the end of 2020, 82.4 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, climate, or events seriously disturbing public order. The number of refugees has never been higher in modern history. This global migration crisis is better known as a refugee crisis. Refugee crises can refer to large groups of displaced people. They could be internally displaced persons, refugees, asylum seekers or any other big group of migrants. A refugee crisis can help to demonstrate incidents in a country of origin, problems while on the move, and problems in the hosting country after arrival.

In the past decade alone, the global refugee population has more than doubled. It is estimated that more than 82 million people have been forced from their homes worldwide. Among them, 26 million are refugees, the highest population on record. The displacement of people can be caused by war and conflict, human rights violations, environmental and climatic issues, as well as economic hardship.

2/3 of all global refugees migrate from Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar.

Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM)

Since the Treaty of Amsterdam, the EU has developed several instruments outlining cooperation with third countries in managing migration, borders, and asylum. This is known as the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). This overarching framework of the European Union's external migration policy is based on partnerships with non-EU countries.

The Treaty of Amsterdam was signed on 2 October 1997 and entered into force on 1 May 1999. Under this treaty, member states agreed to transfer certain powers from national governments to the European Parliament across various areas, including legislation on immigration.

In December 2005, GAMM was published, which aimed to present a comprehensive plan to confront the problem of human trafficking and to solve the crises that arise from mass and irregular migration, through cooperation with third countries (both origin and transit). The initial focus was on Africa and the Mediterranean, which were identified as the main origin regions of migrants in Europe.

GAMM follows 4 priorities:

  1. Managing, organising and assisting in the movement of legal migrants
  2. Prevent dangerous migration, i.e., human trafficking
  3. Maximising the development impact of migration and mobility
  4. Promoting international protection and enhancing the external dimensions of asylum policies

Global Migration - Key takeaways

  • Global migration refers to the international movement of people across borders, either voluntary or involuntary. The 3 types of migrants are asylum seekers, economic migrants and refugees.
  • Migration can happen for several reasons, including war and conflict, environmental displacement, employment, studies or the 'just because' factor. The 4 main types of migration are labour migration, forced migration, International Retirement Migration (IRM) and internal migration.
  • Migration has demographic, environmental, social, economic, and health implications.
  • The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) is a governmental agreement to reduce the need for migration and improve the safety of migration, when necessary.
  • A refugee crisis refers to a large group of displaced people. Causes for a refugee crisis can include war/conflict, human rights violations, environment/climate, and economic hardship.
  • The Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) aims to present a comprehensive strategy to address irregular migration and human trafficking, as well as to manage migration and asylum through cooperation with third countries.

Asylum Seeker world map, 2009, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asylum-seekers-by-country-of-origin.svg

Frequently Asked Questions about Global Migration

  1. Labour migration
  2. Forced migration
  3. International Retirement Migration (IRM)
  4. Internal migration

Global migration mirrors international migration, where people move to other countries (either voluntarily or involuntarily). 

There are both pull factors (factors which attract a person to a new host country) and push factors (factors which make people want to move away from their origin country). Other factors can be family reunification, or the 'just because'. 

Migration has demographic, environmental, social, health, economic, and political implications. 

The movement of people to a new country, otherwise known as international migration.

Final Global Migration Quiz

Question

What does IGO stand for?

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Answer

Intergovernmental Organisations

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What are IGOs composed of?

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For the main part, IGOs are composed of sovereign states, also referred to as member states, or of other organisations through formal treaties for handling/serving common interests and governed by international laws. 

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What does the term 'intergovernmental' mean within IGOs?


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It means that only governments belong to IGOs

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How are IGOs established?


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By a treaty that acts as a charter that creates the group, and such treaties are formed when governments of several states go through a so-called 'ratification process'

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Why are coalitions of state different from IGOs?


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These associations have not been founded by a constituent document and they only exist as a task force.

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How are treaties different from IGOs?


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Treaties such as the North America Free Trade Agreement do not establish an organisation. They only rely on the parties to have their administration to be legally recognised as an ad hoc (unplanned in advance) commission. 

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What are the strengths of IGOs?


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  • They hold state authority
  • Their institutions are permanent
  • They provide a forum for discussion
  • They are issue-specific
  • They provide information
  • They allow multilateral co-operation

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What are the weaknesses of IGOs?


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  • Membership is limited. IGOs' legal basis prohibits membership of private citizens, making them undemocratic. They also do not allow universal state membership
  • IGOs often overlap, which results in an overly complex network
  • States have to give up part of their sovereignty. This can weakens the states' ability to assert authority
  • Inequality among state members can create biases which, in turn, can lead to powerful states to misuse these organisations

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Question

Name 4 examples of IGOs.


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  1. The United Nations (UN)
  2. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
  3. The European Union (EU)
  4. World Trade Organisation (WTO)

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When was the UN founded?


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1946

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The UN was established after which event and why?


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The UN was established after World War II in order to try and prevent future wars.

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How many members does the UN have?


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193

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What is NATO?

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NATO is a system of collective security, whereby all its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by an external party. 

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When was NATO formed?


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On 4 April 1949

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When was the EU founded?


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1992

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What is the policy aim of the EU?


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To ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the international market. They enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and they maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. 

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What does NGO stand for?


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non-governmental organisations

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What is the definition of an NGO?

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While there is no fixed definition for what NGOs are, generally speaking they are defined as non-profit entities (organisations) that are fully independent of governmental influence. That being said, they may receive government funding

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Name 3 examples of NGO.


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  1. Amnesty International
  2. The Salvation Army
  3. Save the Children

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What is the World Trade Organisation and when was it founded?


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It founded on 1 January 1995.


It is an organisation that regulates and facilitates international trade between nations. Its role is to facilitates trade in goods, services and intellectual property among the participating countries. They provide a framework for negotiating trade agreements, which usually aim to reduce or eliminate tariffs, quotas and other restrictions. 

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What are the 2 most important functions of the WTO?


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  1. It oversees the implementation, administration and operation of the covered agreements. The exception is that it does not enforce any agreements when China came into the WTO in December 2001
  2. It provides a forum for negotiations and for settling disputes

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What is the geographical definition of migration?

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The movement of people across a specified boundary in order to establish a new permanent or semi-permanent residence

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What is another name for global migration?


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International migration

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What is the definition of a migrant?


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A migrant is a person who is moving from one place to another. Someone may be considered a migrant regardless of a person's legal status, the cause of migration (voluntary or involuntary), or how long they intend to stay.


Show question

Question

What are 'push' factors? 


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Push factors are based upon the country of origin. These are factors which may cause the migrants to have the desire to move.

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What are 'pull' factors?


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Pull factors are based upon the intended destination of the migrant (the host country). These are factors that attract people to a new place.

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Name 4 examples of 'push' factors.


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  1. War
  2. Ethnic and religious persecution
  3. Poverty
  4. Unemployment

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Name 4 examples of 'pull' factors.


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  1. Better quality of life/standard of living
  2. Better job opportunities
  3. Political stability/more freedom
  4. Range of services to cater to the needs of retirees 

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What are the 3 types of migrants?


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  1. Asylum seeker
  2. Economic migrant
  3. Refugee

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What is the definition of an asylum seeker?


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It is a person who has fled their country of origin and applies for asylum. An asylum seeker searches for international protection, however, the claim for refugee status has not yet (and may not at all) been granted.


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What is the definition of an economic migrant?


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A person who has voluntarily left their country of origin to seek, by legal or illegal means, employment in another country.

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What is the definition of a refugee?


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A refugee describes someone who is leaving a country (or fleeing), due to things like conflict or natural disaster, or other forms of persecution. Legally speaking, a refugee is an asylum seeker whose claim for asylum has been successful, meaning they are granted refugee status in a new country to live there permanently.

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Which 5 countries do 2/3 of the world's refugee population migrate from?

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Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar.

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What are the 4 types of migration?


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  1. Labour migration
  2. Forced migration
  3. International Retirement Migration (IRM)
  4. Internal migration

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True or False: Migration can often be dependent on skill or education levels. 

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True

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Question

What is the Global Compact for Migration?

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The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM) is a governmental agreement prepared under the United Nations' sponsorship.

It is not an international treaty, but it is non-binding under international law. 

It was created to make migration safer.


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What is the general aim of the GCM?

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To create safer migration and to protect migrants.

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What is a refugee crisis? 


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Refugee crises can refer to large groups of displaced people. They could be internally displaced persons, refugees, asylum seekers or any other big group of migrants. A refugee crisis can help to demonstrate incidents in a country of origin, problems while on the move, and problems in the hosting country after arrival.

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Causes for the refugee crisis can include: 


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  • War and conflict
  • Human rights violations
  • Environment and climate
  • Economic hardship

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What is the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM)?


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This overarching framework of the European Union's external migration policy is based on partnerships with non-EU countries. It aims to present a comprehensive plan to confront the problem of human trafficking and to solve the crises that arise from mass and irregular migration, through cooperation with third countries (both origin and transit).

Show question

Question

What are GAMMS 4, equally important, priorities? 


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  1. Managing, organising and facilitating legal migration and mobility
  2. Preventing and reducing irregular migration and trafficking in human beings
  3. Maximising the development impact of migration and mobility
  4. Promoting international protection and enhancing the external dimensions of asylum policies

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What is the definition of a global organisation?

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They are organisations that operate on a global scale. They often have offices in different countries around the world.

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What is global warming?

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Global warming is the increasing average air temperatures near the Earth's surface.

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What contributes to global warming?


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Human activity such as burning fossil fuels.

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What are some effects of global warming and climate change on the Earth?


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  • Rising sea levels
  • Harsher (living) environments
  • Harder to find fresh drinking water
  • Forests are under threat.

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What are the top 5 global environmental organisations?

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  1. WWF
  2. 350.org 
  3. Greenpeace
  4. Earth Island Institute
  5. Rainforest Action Network (RAN)

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Question

What is the definition of global health?


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While there is no single definition of what global health is, in general, it means the health of populations worldwide rather than the health of individuals. 

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Global health considers which 7 factors influence health?


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  1. Income and social status
  2. Education
  3. Physical environment
  4. Social support networks
  5. Genetics
  6. Health services
  7. Sex

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According to the WHO, which global health threats need to be monitored?


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  • Highly contagious pathogens
  • Global influenza
  • HIV
  • Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
  • Climate change

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Global health organisations are divided into which 3 groups?

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  1. Multilateral organisations 
  2. Bilateral organisations
  3. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

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