Migration data in the Caribbean

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Long-term migration patterns in the Caribbean1 can be characterized by two principal dynamics. The first, and most prominent, is emigration out of the region, mainly toward Northern America (with the United States being the main destination country) as well as Europe. The second is intraregional migration, characterized in large part by migration from Haiti to the Dominican Republic and in lesser part by emigration from Haiti and the Dominican Republic to other island territories and countries in the region, including the Bahamas (IOM, 2018). Intraregional migration and mobility, both permanent and temporary, of nationals between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) member countries / territories has also become more prominent in recent years.

More recently, the arrival of Venezuelan refugees and migrants has added to complex migration dynamics in the region, particularly in the Dominican Republic as well as in islands and countries in the southern Caribbean that are proximate to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, including Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Curaçao (IOM and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Response for Venezuelans (R4V), 2021).

Internal displacement caused by recurring disasters related to seismic activity and hurricanes is also a priority issue in the region. In 2020, Hurricanes Eta and Iota as well as Hurricane Laura generated significant numbers of new displacements in the region, affecting the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Haiti, in particular (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), 2021).

In the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has generated significant changes in mobility, migration and tourism patterns in the region. Border closures and travel restrictions have severely impacted many Caribbean economies that depend on tourism for jobs and overall economic wellbeing. As a reactivation measure, some countries and territories have applied “travel bubbles” which seek to reactivate both intra-regional and extra-regional mobility into countries of the region (IOM, 2020).

In regard to migration data, there are various institutions in countries and territories of the region that lead the collection, processing, dissemination and use of administrative records related to migration in the region. These institutions include migration line ministries, national statistical offices, tourism authorities who collect information on passengers and visitors and more (IOM, 2018).