International Migrants Day

Dec. 19, 2016 Weekly Graphs

The mission of International Migrants Day is to make the voices of migrants heard and to promote respect for their basic human rights. According to UNHCR, 21.3 million people worldwide are currently refugees. Notably, 53 per cent of them, excluding the Palestinian refugees, come from just three countries where civil wars have been occurring for several years: Syria (4.9 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), and Somalia (1.1 million). Although these people are often forced to leave their country with or without permission, this week’s graph takes a look at the formal right to Freedom of Foreign Movement in these countries. 

With the Country Graph Tool and the Freedom of Foreign Movement variable we can examine citizens’ freedom to travel and emigrate. A low value indicates that public authorities do not respect this freedom and prohibit their citizens from travelling abroad or emigrating, while a high value indicates no such restrictions. The graph shows changes in all three countries over time. In Syria, freedom of foreign movement increased during the first years after independence in 1946 but was restricted in 1968. Since the mid-1990s, a modest liberalization can be observed. Similarly, independence in 1960 in Somalia brought an increased freedom to travel and emigrate for its citizens, however it was restricted after 1968. Thirty years later, these restrictions were somewhat eased, a process that continues until today. The largest fluctuations can be observed in Afghanistan, where freedom of foreign movement decreased remarkably between 1972 and 1980. Since then, a considerable improvement has been made, resulting in an almost complete freedom of foreign movement for Afghanis since 2013. 

To find out more about freedom of foreign movement worldwide, use the Online Analysis Tool on  


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