India on Tuesday stressed the need to appropriately address the issue of “irregular” migration, which has social and security ramifications and is emerging as a major concern for various nations.

“Irregular migration has social and security ramification which are now well beyond mere law enforcement and need to be appropriately addressed by the countries involved,” Vayalar Ravi, Union Minister of Overseas Indian affairs, (MOIA) said.

The minister was addressing the delegates and policy makers from 32 different countries. He appealed the participating nations to work in a “concerned manner” to address the scourge of smuggling and trafficking of women and children.

Mr. Ravi was addressing the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) conference of Directors General of Immigration on management of migratory flows at Goa.

Goa Chief Minister Digamber Kamat, MOIA Secretary K Mohandas and conference Chair G Gurucharan were also present on the occasion.

The minister said that curbing irregular migration is not only issue of concern for countries of destination but also in the countries of origin.

“In the absence of inclusive and equitable development, vastly differing economic opportunities combined with restrictions on free movement only serve to aggravate the problem,” he said.

Mr. Ravi said “there is evidence to suggest that where legal migration is rendered more difficult, the direct consequence has been more irregular migration“.

The minister said India has estimated 25 million overseas community members spread over 110 countries while the country is also host to over 20 million immigrants, many of whom are irregular.

The economic downturn has fuelled the argument that migrant workers cause job losses or effect of economic meltdown could be subsided, if there were no migrants, he said.

“Nothing can be farther from the truth. Migrant workers fill labour supply gaps that often cannot or do not want to be met by local workers,” the minister commented.

“History also points to the fact that in times of economic downturn, the governments often adopt protectionist policies thereby exacerbating the negative impact of the crisis on the economy,” he added.

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