IMF urges boost in welcoming refugees

IMF chief Christine Lagarde acknowledged difficulties facing countries but said the longer term outcomes of migration are beneficial to economies

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The International Monetary Fund urged countries on Wednesday to expand their welcome for the massive arrivals of refugees in recent years.

In a pointed message ahead of this weekend’s summit of Group of 20 major economies in Turkey, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said that the surge of refugees to historic highs in the last few years - whether by people fleeing armed conflict or economic distress - would likely increase in the near future.

“Some countries have been willing to receive large flows of refugees and done their utmost to provide them with food and shelter,” Lagarde said in a blog post on the IMF website.

“Others, especially among the advanced countries, should look at how they might increase their scope for admitting more refugees.”

Lagarde’s comment came as European Union and African leaders met in a summit in Malta to tackle the biggest flow of refugees and migrants since World War II, which has opened up divisions in the 28-nation European bloc.

“Demographic forces, globalization, and environmental degradation mean that migration pressures across borders will likely increase in the coming decades. And cross-border challenges demand cross-border solutions,” she said.

The IMF managing director acknowledged the difficulties facing countries to integrate migrants, but said the longer term outcome was beneficial to economies.

“Migrants can boost a country’s labor force, encourage investment and boost growth,” she said. “Preliminary IMF calculations show a modest positive impact on growth from migrants in EU countries, for example.”

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