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Report/Press release

Labour migration in South Asia: A review of issues, policies and practices




Piyasiri Wickramasekara


Migration has been a long standing feature in South Asia especially between countries sharing common borders. Yet the Gulf boom in the early 1970s triggered a different type of labour movement from South Asia to the Middle East. The objective of this paper is to look at migration policy frameworks in South Asia and their implications for governance of migration, protection of migrant workers and maximizing development benefits of migration. I shall focus on overall policy issues, and provide only a broad sketch of the South Asian migration profile as a backdrop to the discussion of policy issues. The paper next reviews the major features and challenges of labour migration in South Asia. This is followed by a comparative review of different aspects of migration policy in Asia as reflected in the legislative and policy frameworks. The scope for a subregional approach to migration policy in South Asia is discussed next. The conclusions identify some priority areas for policy reform.

Document number


Number of pages


Responsible institution

International Labor Organization

Place published

Geneva, Switzerland



Migration issues, migration policy

Economic sectors

General relevance - all sectors

Content types

Policy analysis and Support initiatives

Target groups

Policymakers, Researchers, and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks

Geographical focuses

Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan

Spheres of activity

Law and Social work