Iran Faces Mass Emigration Amid Economic Challenges

Tuesday, 11/21/2023

The Iran Migration Observatory (IMO) has raised alarms over what it describes as an "uncontrolled mass emigration" currently occurring in Iran.

According to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Iran witnessed the world's fastest growth in migration rates to wealthy countries between 2020 and 2021, with numbers soaring from approximately 48,000 in 2020 to 115,000 in the following year—an increase of 141 percent.

An analysis conducted by the IMO, using data from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), revealed that the number of new asylum applications globally by Iranians in 2022 increased by 44 percent compared to the previous year.

Simultaneously, the IMO reported that the number of Iranians studying abroad has been on the rise for eight consecutive years, climbing from 49,000 in 2013 to 70,000 in 2021.

Economic and political factors are identified as the primary drivers behind the mass migration. Iran has grappled with an inflation rate exceeding 40 percent for the past four years, exacerbated by US-led sanctions imposed over Tehran's nuclear program. Additionally, a heavy crackdown on dissent, following mass protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody, and continued geopolitical tensions contributed to the exodus.

Traditionally, Iranian migrants have sought destinations in the US, Australia, Canada, and Europe. However, the ongoing development in the Persian Gulf region has made Arab states such as the UAE, Qatar, and Oman increasingly attractive for job seekers. Turkey has also gained popularity as a destination in recent years.

The departing population comprises not only professionals like athletes, artists, skilled workers, and technicians from the affluent elite but also a significant number of poorer Iranians attempting perilous journeys to reach western countries.

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