Maldives Migration Profile Highlights Key Role of Foreign Migrant Workers

To successfully integrate an evidence-based policy approach to migration management, the Government of the Maldives with IOM Development Fund’s support, has launched the Maldives Migration Profile.

Male – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has handed over the first Migration Profile of the Maldives to the government of the Indian Ocean island nation. “Migration in Maldives: A Country Profile 2018” examines all aspects of migration in the Maldives, a major tourist destination.  

The 240-page report is the product of a two-year research project launched in 2016 in partnership with Maldives Immigration, under the supervision of the Ministry of Economic Development. It builds on data collected by the government – notably through the Maldives Population and Housing Census 2014 – and key international organizations, including the ILO, UN, World Bank, OECD and the European Union.  

The profile highlights the key role of migration in the Maldives economy, where migrants mainly from South Asia, but also from the Philippines, Egypt, Iran and the Russian Federation, represent nearly a third of the country’s population of 378,000.  

Migrants – an estimated 63,000 of whom are believed to be undocumented – are particularly dominant in the tourism, construction, health and education sectors. In construction, one of the key engines of Maldivian economic growth, migrant workers, primarily from Bangladesh, account for about 88 per cent of the workforce.  

The report, which includes policy recommendations for the government in the areas of migration governance and data management, also addresses internal migration, noting that nearly half of the country’s population has moved to Male – the capital – from outlying islands within the last few decades.  

It identifies key migration trends and reviews the country’s migration governance, including laws and policies that touch on migration and migrants’ rights. It also provides an overview of the wide array of national institutions involved in migration management and data collection. 

The profile also addresses concerns relating to excessive recruitment fees, migrants’ misconceptions about working and living conditions, a lack of pre-departure employment information, unlawful subcontracting of workers, unsafe working conditions, ineffective monitoring of recruitment and employment practices, and weak sanctions for labour law violations.  

“Migration is a key ingredient towards achieving sustainable development. To ensure safe, regular and managed migration, governments must analyze existing policies, data and trends. This profile will serve as a point of reference and will provide the government with valuable insights into the benefits and some of the challenges posed by migration,” said IOM Sri Lanka and Maldives Chief of Mission Sarat Dash. 

The research contained in the report, which with published the support of the IOM Development Fund, was carried out in partnership with Maldives Immigration, the Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Tourism, Labour Relations Authority, National Bureau of Statistics and The Maldives National University. 

“Migration in Maldives: A Country Profile 2018” can be downloaded from: To watch the video please go to:

For more information, please contact Sarat Dash at IOM Colombo, Tel: +94 11 211 2600, Email: