More people are migrating across national borders today than ever before. There were 214 million international migrants in 2010, compared to 155 million in 1990 (UN, 2012). From the total global increase of 59 million international migrants over two decades, the number of migrants living in the so-called Global North increased by 46 million while those in the Global South increased by 13 million (UNDESA, 2012).
Within Africa, a significant proportion of migrants move across the continent. According to UNDESA (2012: 2) the majority of international migrants in Africa remain in the major area of their birth. Out of the total 214 million international migrants registered in 2010, 29.2 million were Africans, and their major destination was Africa itself (Table 1). UNDESA (2009) estimated the number of international migrants in Southern Africa in 1990 and 2010 at 1.4 million and 2.2 million, respectively. These represented a proportional increase from 3.4 per cent to 3.7 per cent in the region’s total population.
The increase in the number of international migrants in Southern Africa is partly due to economic liberalisation and the implementation of structural adjustment programmes under the auspices of international financial institutions in the region (Crush and Williams, 2003), as cross-borders migrants in the region have been compelled to seek a better economic life (Millard, 2008). Others migrate clandestinely as local herdsmen, and as members of ethnic groups, whose domicile straddles ‘artificial’ state boundaries in the region.