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World  

US out on migration deal

Defying fierce opposition from the United States and a few other nations, nearly 85 per cent of the countries at the U.N. agreed Monday on a sweeping yet non-binding accord to ensure safe, orderly and humane migration.

The debate over the Global Compact for Migration, the first of its kind, has proven to be a pivotal test of the U.N.-led effort to crack down on the often dangerous and illegal movements across borders that have turned people smuggling into a booming worldwide industry.

"Unregulated migration bears a terrible human cost: a cost in lives lost on perilous journeys across deserts, oceans and rivers; and a cost in lives ruined at the hands of smugglers, unscrupulous employers and other predators," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a migration conference in Marrakech, Morocco.

"More than 60,000 migrants have died on the move since the year 2000," he said. "This is a source of collective shame."

Migration affects hundreds of millions of people across the globe — farmers coming off the land or forced by climate change to head to cities, families fleeing war or persecution at home, impoverished workers from the developing world looking for jobs in rich countries. It can also involve high-skilled workers from developed nations looking for opportunities beyond their homelands.

Defenders say migration greases the wheels of the world economy by diversifying and rejuvenating workforce in aging rich countries and providing a needed source of cash to poorer countries through remittances sent home by migrants.

Opponents often fear that an influx of migrants can dilute their countries' character, import poverty or crime, reduce wages and take jobs from tax-paying citizens.

A total of 164 countries among the 193 U.N. members approved the agreement by acclamation Monday.

At the two-day conference, U.N. leaders were hoping to lure in holdouts from mostly Western nations who were not signing: Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia along with the United States, which under President Donald Trump did not participate in drafting the accord.



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