Reintegration of returning migrants | Political economics

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immigration is a global phenomenon; people leave their country of origin and go abroad in search of a chance to better their lives and those of their families. People generally see migration as an opportunity to solve their difficulties, especially their economic problems.

According to World Migration Report 2022, published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there were 281 million international migrants in 2020, or 3.6% of the world’s population. The number of international migrants has increased considerably since the year 2000 when it was 173 million. There were 169 million migrant workers worldwide in 2019. The country with the highest proportion of international migrants is the United Arab Emirates.

Migrant remittances are a good source of capital for developing countries. It is a highly recognized contribution to a country’s economy. $702 billion was reported as the amount of remittances abroad in 2020. Low- and middle-income countries received remittances worth $540 billion of this total.

Pakistan is one of the main labor exporters in the region. According to the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment, there were 625,876 migrants from Pakistan in 2019. Due to Covid-19 limitations, this number dropped to 225,213 and 288,280 in 2020 and 2021, respectively. But by June 2022, the number had already risen to 412,451, suggesting it could surpass the 2019 figure. The main destinations for Pakistani migrant workers are the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates.

The State Bank of Pakistan recently announced that the country’s remittances for the financial years 2021-2022 reached a record high of $31.237 billion. Remittances received in 2020-21 were $29.449 billion; therefore, an increase of 6.1% was observed.

Return migration is an important part of international migration. People who have worked abroad for years often return home to reunite with family and feel at home. However, the reintegration of these returnees presents real challenges, especially in developing countries. The economic reintegration of the elderly is more difficult and difficult.

Most young Pakistani migrant workers go to Middle Eastern and Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman. They generally spend 15 to 20 years of their life in these countries. When they return to Pakistan at the age of 50 or more, it is extremely difficult for them to find employment and a stable source of income.

Return migration is an important part of international migration. People who have worked abroad for years often return home to reunite with family and feel at home. However, the reintegration of these returnees presents real challenges, especially in developing countries. The economic reintegration of the elderly is more difficult and difficult.

It is essential to realize that Pakistani migrant workers, especially those in rural areas, have only one goal in mind when deciding to leave their home country: to travel to another country and send money to their families, allowing them to live comfortably.

If they are single, they usually take care of their parents and siblings. After some time, they go back to Pakistan, get married and then go back to those countries because now they have more burdens on their shoulders. These migrants then continue to work and return to Pakistan every one to two years. They regularly send money to Pakistan to support their families for food and other expenses, as well as the education of their children and the health care of their elderly parents. They also strive to build their own houses.

Over time, their family’s expenses increase as the children enroll in colleges and universities, and even if they want to go home, they cannot because they believed it there would be no job opportunities for them and they would not be able to earn as much money. As a result, they stay there for about 15-20 years, sometimes even longer. They return to Pakistan at the age of 50 and over due to their health conditions and employer policies. They find it very difficult to earn and have a good source of income at this stage of their lives in Pakistan.

In Pakistani society, parents devote their lives to giving their children a good education and comfortable living conditions; later, they expect their children to support them as they grow older. However, families are finding it increasingly difficult to care for elderly relatives due to rising unemployment and inflation, adding to their stress and anxiety.

Compared to the entire elderly population of the country, a very small percentage receives a pension. There would be 16 million elderly people in the country. Less than 15% of this group has access to a pension. There are only two pension schemes in the country, a tax financed scheme for government employees and the Employees Old Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) scheme for private sector employees. Unfortunately, overseas Pakistanis are not covered by any of these programs.

Returnees deserve a happy later life in their own country. They helped the country’s economy by sending funds from abroad. The government, together with international organizations and the private sector, should put in place programs and policies to facilitate the reintegration of former returning workers. These seniors can serve as mentors and teachers to the younger generation in their respective trades. In addition, it is essential that the government allows migrant workers to enroll in a pension scheme so that they can obtain a pension in their later years.


The author is a communication specialist and a freelance writer, he is based in Rawalpindi and can be contacted at: [email protected] He tweets @qureshiwaqasA


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