Migration in Southeast Asia

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Southeast Asia is certainly a region on the move. Internal and international migration flows are a key feature in this geographical setting. On the one hand, Southeast Asia is home of important work-related migration flows to other countries in the region which are demanding labour but also to international immigration areas, such as North America, the European Union and the Persian Gulf. On the other hand, Southeast Asia also attracts immigration, mostly intraregional. Intraregional migration is usually temporary and irregular, which has meant a major challenge for governments to manage migration in their territories. In addition to the countries of origin and destination, some Asian countries are discovering a new role as transit migration countries. Without having to implement migration policies, they face significant challenges arising from the presence of people who, in their migratory path, reside in its territory before heading to its final destination in another country. Resurreccion explains (in Devasahayam, 2009,p. 31) that women are playing an increasingly important role in this context. Some of the reasons are the emergence of job opportunities for women in the services sector and tourism industry in the region, as well as their employment in garment and textile industries across national borders (ibid). However, as Piper (2004, p. 217) points out foreign female workers are still channelled into "low-paying and low skilled service sector jobs that are socio-legally not recognised as work". Some of these legal conditions lead to vulnerability. According to the United Nations, vulnerability can be structural (when it arises from the existence of a power structure to which only some people participate) or cultural (e... ... middle of paper ... ...ocial isolation. Vulnerability is an increasing threat to female migrants. Nevertheless, this phenomenon also affect men with low-skilled jobs who have clandestinely reached the recipient country facing salary reductions or even non-payments, maltreatment or violation of employment contracts. Resilience, or the ability to adapt to external changes, is difficult to increase in this context. On the positive side, NGOs have tried to protect migrants by creating networks that can strengthen their social resilience. Asian countries are now facing the challenge of managing migration in an increasingly global and interconnected environment. Migration should be important for the political and social agenda of the Southeast Asian governments in the coming decades. The migration policy linkages with social and economic developmental policies confirm its crucial status.

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