Country Profiles

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Migration is a vast and varied phenomenon. The Church does its best to respond in a specific way to the unique circumstances of migration in different times and locations.

The purpose of the country migratory profiles on this web site is to help local Churches and other Catholic stakeholders to plan their ministry in support of the human mobility in their midst. The Migrants and Refugees Section has enlisted experts to develop the country profiles. Each one provides data and information on national and international migration flows, the national legal framework, and the main stakeholders. The goal is to present objective, scientific facts in a streamlined format in order to be as useful as possible.

Please be aware that the information is as current as possible, but some might inevitably be dated. We recommend visiting these pages frequently to check for updates.

South Africa

South Africa is Africa’s southernmost country. In 2020, it was the top destination country for immigrants in Southern Africa, with a migrant population of 2,137,519 (28%). Migration routes in and out of South Africa are some of the most widely travelled on the continent.

Ivory Coast

Since its independence in 1960, Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) has been hailed as the top migration destination country in West Africa - especially among labour migrants and refugees. With the tensions in the country from 2002 until 2020, immigration has declined. However, Ivory Coast remains among the top ten migration corridors in Western Africa, and is host to the highest number of migrants (2,564,857) in the region.

Uganda

Uganda is a landlocked country bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Tanzania. The country’s population in 2020 was 45.7 million. Migration to Uganda has been driven by political factors, poverty, rapid population growth, and the porosity of international borders.

Eritrea

Eritrea is an east African country with a population that is growing annually and may reach 6.7 million by 2030.Migrants constitute 12% of the total population (607,900 people), while refugees represent 9.6% (486,200). The long-lasting tension between Eritrea and Ethiopia has led to the militarisation of the nation.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia is the oldest independent country on the African continent. Except for a brief period under Mussolini’s Italy, the country has always maintained its independence. Ethiopia is a landlocked country largely dependent on its neighbour Djibouti for port access. It is a majority Christian country and is home to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Afghanistan

For several decades Afghanistan has been considered the world’s highest refugee-producing country due to an unstable political and social climate. This current situation may have worsened because of the fall of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the full withdrawal of international troops from the country and the reinstatement of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

South Korea

As its population is rapidly aging, South Korea attracts thousands of foreign, low-skilled workers, especially from the Great Mekong area. As of the middle of 2020, 1.7 million foreigners were living in the Republic of Korea.

Cambodia

Cambodia lies in the middle of the Great Mekong sub-region, in Indochina. Though urbanization is on the rise, migrants – both internal and international – face many burdens and adversities. They are increasingly vulnerable to trafficking, abuse, and exploitation. The families they leave behind also suffer significant hardships. Internal migration is prevalent, especially from the countryside to the urban areas, and so is emigration.

Poland

Located in Central Europe and bordering the Baltic Sea, Poland has a population of 38,000,000 and one of the largest diasporas in the world. Polish nationals and the descendants of former Polish migrants amount to around 20 million people worldwide, mostly located in Western countries.

Taiwan

Due to its impressive growth in wealth, the associated drop in birth rates, and its highly skilled population, many of whom study and work abroad, Taiwan experienced an urgent need for blue-collar workers. It therefore invited thousands of migrant workers from both mainland China and Southeast Asian countries. As of May 2021, more than 820,000 foreigners were living in the country, representing about 3.5% of its entire population of 23,000,000. Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand are the main countries of origin of immigrants in Taiwan, the majority of whom are female.

Japan

A post-industrial society, Japan is an insular country with one of the highest Human Development Index ratings in the world. Though a popular high end tourism destination, Japan is also a rather homogeneous society with very strict immigration policies. Japan has the lowest asylum intake ratio in the developed world.
As the country is particularly prone to natural and consequent industrial disasters, large internal displacements can occur, as in the wake of the 2011 earthquake. While the effects of these events are temporary for most people, these disasters leave the most destitute in a highly vulnerable position, particularly asylum seekers as well as Japanese nationals who live in poverty. Human trafficking also takes place in Japan, likewise targeting the most vulnerable.

Vietnam

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam was founded in 1976, three years after the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the subsequent takeover of South Vietnam by North Vietnamese Communist forces. A century of conflicts and political persecutions produced a sizeable diaspora of refugees and economic migrants, especially in Australia and the United States. This created a vast community of Vietnamese living abroad, beckoning new emigrant flows. About 100,000 Vietnamese leave the country every year to work and study abroad.

Oman

Located in the south-eastern end of the Arabian Peninsula, the Sultanate of Oman has a population of approximately four and a half million people. Amongst its inhabitants is a rapidly decreasing proportion of foreign workers, presently around 30% of the population, who are being displaced by the nationalisation of the workforce.

France

France is a State governed by a semi-presidential Republic. It is a founding member of the European Union. The French population was composed of roughly 9.9% migrants in 2019, of which approximately one half came from African countries and one third came from other Member States of the European Union.

United Arab Emirates

Second-highest migrant destination country in the Middle East and the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven Emirates and is one of the most globally integrated countries in the Arab Peninsula.

Armenia

Armenia is a landlocked country in the Caucasus region, known for its large diaspora all around the world. Armenia became independent in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, three years after the dramatic earthquake of 1988.

Afghanistan (emergency)

Suffering protracted conflict and insecurity as well as disasters such as droughts, floods and storms, Afghanistan faces one of the world’s most severe internal displacement crises. The needs remain enormous with half of the Afghan population requiring humanitarian assistance.

South Sudan

The Republic of South Sudan is the youngest nation in the world; it gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011 following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 and the referendum and independence process in 2011. Its history is, therefore, connected to that of Sudan.

Sudan

The Republic of the Sudan is a country of origin, transit, and destination, geographically positioned along the main migratory routes from West and East Africa to Europe. Sudan is a place of origin for migration due to on-going conflicts and related insecurities, as well as a stagnated economic situation marked by widespread unemployment.

Algeria

In the 1990s, Algeria experienced substantial emigration due to civil war. Many Algerians entered Tunisia irregularly and others sought asylum in Europe. After the civil war, sub-Saharan African migrants came to Algeria to work in agriculture and mining. In the 2000s, a wave of educated Algerians went abroad seeking skilled jobs in a wider range of destinations and consequently increased their presence in North America and Spain. At the same time, legal foreign workers (principally from China and Egypt) came to work in Algeria's construction and oil sectors.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a large Central Asian country situated between Asia and Europe. It is a former Soviet state and a current member of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Following its independence in 1991, it made great strides towards economic recovery.

Saudi Arabia

Despite the strong workforce nationalization policies and the increasing struggle against the integration of migrants in Saudi Arabia in recent years, the country’s economy still mainly relies on a foreign workforce. In 2020, migrants comprised roughly 38.4% of the population of Saudi Arabia.

Libya

Libya has experienced a period of intense and protracted crisis since 2011. Before this explosion of violence, the country was a major destination for labour migrants and typically hosted from 1.35 to 2.5 million migrant workers. Most migrant labourers worked in the construction and health sectors, with some in agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

Somalia

Somalia is a country of transit, destination, origin, and return for massive flows of internal and outward migration across the Horn of Africa and beyond. A civil war between 1987 and 1991 promoted the mass internal displacement of approximately 100,000 refugees, and of more than 500,000 towards Ethiopia.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The population in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been rising over the past several decades, but the migrant population portion has fluctuated. For example, in 2010 the migrant population was 589,000, and not even a decade later, in 2019, the migrant population was 963,800.

Zambia

Zambia experiences substantial internal migration and emigration exceeds immigration. The international migrant stock for Zambia is 170,200. Zambia hosts a relatively small number of asylum seekers and refugees compared to other similarly situated African countries.

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan has a young population, with over 50% being under the age of 30. In addition to Kyrgyz, who make up roughly 75% of the population, the country is populated by various ethnic groups including Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, Tatars, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Koreans, Uighurs, and Germans who were exiled from the Soviet Union in 1941.

Kenya

Kenya is a migration source, destination, and transit country for neighbouring countries, as well as for South Africa, the Middle East, North Africa, North America, and Europe. Additionally, Kenya is home to one of the largest refugee populations and has some of the oldest refugee camps in Africa.

Tunisia

Tunisia has always been a country of emigration. In the years following the end of the French Protectorate in 1956, Tunisians mostly emigrated to Western Europe owing to labour shortages in the region, especially in France.

Niger

Niger is positioned at the crossroads of the migratory routes of West and Central Africa.

Thus, Niger has become one of the main transit countries for migrants originating from West and Central Africa, moving to North Africa, and migrating irregularly across the Mediterranean.

The Philippines

The Republic of the Philippines, an archipelago in Southeast Asia, is the world's fifth-largest island nation and one of the most populated countries in the world: 109,180,815 (2020).

Bahrain

Despite the workforce nationalization policy established in recent years in Bahrain, its economy is still mainly relying on foreign workforce.

Morocco

Morocco has been a country of emigration since the 1960s, with a reported 2.8 million Moroccans having moved abroad (2014). Initially, it was mostly low-skilled workers who migrated to France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, but then a shift occurred as high skilled workers began moving to the United States and Canada.

Nigeria

Migration has always been a significant part of Nigerian history. All the major ethnic groups in Nigeria believe that their current settlement resulted from their ancestors’ prior migration.

Mali

Migration in Mali is deep-rooted. The geographical position of the country has historically placed it at the intersection of the major trade routes between the Maghreb to the north and sub-Saharan African countries to the south. Mobility was essential for trade in products (salt, livestock, and gold) and slaves.

Ghana

Following the independence of Ghana in 1957, the number of people migrating to Ghana far surpassed the number who left. However, by the 1980s, Ghana had become a country of emigration, which it still is today.

Qatar

The State of Qatar is ruled by a hereditary absolute monarchy. Qatar has signed several memoranda of understanding and agreements with workforce-sending countries, in particular with South and Southeast Asian nations to facilitate the recruitment of migrants.

Iran

Situated at the junction of the Middle East and Asia, Iran, also known as Persia, is an ancient civilisation, amongst the oldest sovereign States in the world. A predominantly Persian yet multi-ethnic society, the political nature of the State in Iran is Shiite and theocratic.

Myanmar (emergency)

Since the start of armed conflicts and violence in February 2021, more than 223,000 people have been displaced in Myanmar and 22,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring countries. With 23,500 people displaced in October alone, the situation continues to deteriorate. In November, Myanmar recorded a total of about 589,000 internally displaced persons.

Aegean Islands, Greece

Some 13,100 refugees and asylum seekers reside on the Aegean islands. Of those, 10,100 (77%) reside in the permanent and temporary Reception and

Identification Centers (RICs).

Canary Islands, Spain (emergency)

Escalating conflicts and displacement in the Sahel have forced an estimated 2.9 million people to flee. Facing protracted displacement, dire conditions in neighbouring host countries where they sought shelter, the continued economic impact of the COVID pandemic and a lack of viable alternatives, many continue to attempt risky sea journeys to Europe through the Canary islands.

Mediterranean Route (emergency)

Refugees and migrants suffer brutality and abuses along the routes towards the Mediterranean. Many fall prey to traffickers and smugglers and are extorted, raped, and sometimes killed or left to die. Many of them flee violence and persecution and have dire and urgent protection needs.

Anglophone Cameroon (emergency)

The main humanitarian needs of Cameroonian refugees and IDPs are related to protection, food and water, sanitation and hygiene. Insecurity and roadblocks in the North-West and the South-West regions have been obstructing humanitarian access, preventing the delivery of aid to affected people.

Nigeria (Boko Haram), emergency

The living conditions of IDPs are dreadful, characterised by irregular and inadequate distribution of food, crude shelters, and poor health and sanitation services. Despite the return of Nigerian IDPs and refugees to accessible areas, the crisis remains critical.

Czech Republic

Until the end of the past millennium, Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, was pre-eminently an emigration country due to communist oppression, especially following the 1968 invasion by the armies of the Warsaw Pact.

Kuwait

Despite its strong workforce, nationalization policies, and the increasing struggle against integration of migrants in Kuwait (which has been underway in recent years), the country’s economy continues to rely heavily on its foreign workforce.

The Balkan Route

The Western Balkan Route is one of the main migratory pathways into Europe. Since mid-2018, transit corridors from Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Serbia, as well as through Albania and Montenegro, via Bosnia and Herzegovina became one of the most travelled mixed migration routes in the Western Balkans, with approximately 70,000 people arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina since early 2018.

Tigray, Ethiopia (emergency)

Since the violence began in early-November 2020, an estimated 2.1 million people have been displaced due to the ongoing fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. 

Tajikistan

The Republic of Tajikistan is located in the heart of Central Asia and is bordered by Kyrgyzstan to the north, by China to the east, by Afghanistan to the south and by Uzbekistan to the west and north-west. Its land area covers 143,100 km2 and is divided into four provinces, one of which is autonomous.

Portugal

In the mid-1970s, Portugal began receiving high inflows of migrants from the Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, notably Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe and Mozambique.

Burkina Faso

Migration in Burkina Faso has long been a traditional way of life for Burkinabe, with seasonal migration being replaced by years spent abroad.

Spain

Spain is currently one of the primary destination countries for international migration. The largest groups are from Morocco, China, Ecuador, Colombia and usually arrive by air and sea. Many arrivals are people of working age who take job in primary industries and the service sector.

Panama

Despite being small in area and population, Panama is a country with considerable migration issues, although data on migration is scanty compared to other countries in the region.

Holy Land

The Holy Land is the location of a more than seven-decade-long situation which has witnessed numerous armed confrontations and political, economic and social pressures that lead to land occupation, exodus, human rights violations and continued instability throughout the region.

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is a country in Central Asia, a former member of the Soviet Union from which it gained independence in 1991. The country is landlocked, bordering Kazakhstan to the North and West, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the East, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the South.

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is a presidential republic located in Central Asia with a population of 5,942,089 inhabitants (2019). The country is divided into five provinces (Ahal, Balkan, Dashoguz, Lebap, Mary) and an autonomous city district (the capital Ashgabat).

Greece

During the last decades of 1800 until the first part of the twentieth century, Greece was a migrant-sending country. Many Greeks expatriated to find better economic conditions.

Malta

Malta is an island situated in the Mediterranean Sea, halfway between the coasts of Tunisia and Sicily.
It is the tenth smallest country in the world and the fourth most densely populated. Until
the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Malta was an important source of emigration.

Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a small country at the crossroads of the Holy Land which Pope Francis complimented in 2014 for its “generous welcome” of refugees fleeing crises in the Middle East.

Turkey

The Republic of Turkey was created in 1923 and is located in the Eastern Mediterranean basin, on both sides of the Bosphorus, therefore forming a junction between Europe and Asia. As a result, flows of migrants have been taking this road illegally in hope to reach Europe over the past decades.

Croatia

Croatia is a parliamentary republic. Geographically, it borders Slovenia to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro to the south, and the Adriatic Sea to the west. The territorial land area is 56,590 km2, while the territorial water area is 31,067 km2.

 

Russia

The Russian Federation is a transcontinental state that stretches from Europe across Asia. It is the largest state in the world with an area of 17,098,242 km.2 According to 2019 data from ROSSTAT (Federal Statistical Service), Russia had 146,792,744 inhabitants, ranking it ninth in the world for the number of its inhabitants and tenth according to its mortality rate.

Yemen

Located at the Southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen has been suffering from a deadly civil war that escalated into a regional proxy war between the Saudi led coalition and Iran, a situation that has been coined the world’s worst humanitarian crisis by the United Nations.

Ukraine

Ukraine (603,600 sq. km) is a country with a long history and tradition located in Eastern Europe, divided into 24 Provinces and the capital Kyiv, which has special status. It is a middle-income country, with a significant output in agriculture and food products, as well as a strong industrial base.

Iraq

Iraq has experienced long periods of war throughout its short existence, and especially during the past few decades.

Lebanon

Situated between the Holy Land and Syria, Lebanon is riddled with deeply rooted political instability, and highly impacted by the devastating fiscal, economic, monetary, and sanitary crises.

Georgia

Georgia (69,700 sq km) is located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia and has a population of 3,716,900 (2020) that is mainly urbanized, with 58% of that population residing in the capital, Tbilisi. The major ethnic groups include: Georgian (86.6%), Azeri (6.3%), Armenian (4.5%), Russian and Yezidi (2.3%).

Syria

Syria has been experiencing a state of war involving a multitude of internal and external factors since 2011.

Hungary

The Republic of Hungary, a parliamentary republic, is a member of the European Union, NATO, OSCE and the Visegrád Group (V4), and has been a member of the Schengen Agreement since 2004. It has an area of 93,030 km2 and has a continental climate.

Cyprus

Cyprus is an island in the eastern Mediterranean to the south of the Anatolian peninsula. It is divided de facto into two parts: the Greek Orthodox-majority Republic of Cyprus (59% of the territory), and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (36%), with a Muslim population; there is a buffer zone between the two.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina, formerly part of Yugoslavia (until 1992), is now a federal parliamentary republic in the Western Balkans, with a capital in Sarajevo and a population of 3.32 million (with a growth rate of -0.17%) in 2018.

Belgium

Belgium is a federal state, governed by a parliamentary monarchy. It is a member and one of the founding states of the European Union; Brussels, its capital city, hosts the headquarters of several Community institutions.

Austria

Austria is a federal parliamentary republic located in central Europe that entered the European Union in 1995. With a per capita GDP of USD 53,481.76 (of which 71% is the tertiary sector) and an HDI of 0.908, it ranks as one of the richest European countries.

Albania

Albania is a parliamentary republic located on the Balkan Peninsula. The country has been an official candidate for accession to the European Union since 2014 with negotiations initiated in March 2020.

Myanmar

Myanmar or Burma is the most multilingual and ethnically and religiously diverse country in South-East Asia. The population of 54,409,800 inhabitants (July 2020, est.) of this lower middle-income least developed country is composed of 135 ethnicities, while its five main religions are: Theravada Buddhism 89.2%, Christianity 5.0%, Islam 3.5%, Hinduism 0.5%, and Spiritualism 1.2%.

Thailand

The Kingdom of Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country which has never been colonized by a European power. The head of state is King Wachiralongkon while the head of Government is Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha.

Indonesia

The Republic of Indonesia is now the world's fourth most populous democracy, with an estimated 262,787,403 people (July 2018), and the largest Muslim-majority nation. At 87.2%, Islam is the dominant religion while 7% are Protestant and 3.33% are Roman Catholic.