Bangkok, Thailand (BBN)– A United Nations meeting of Asia-Pacific countries has called for better legal protection of migrants, especially the millions who are undocumented migrants and often victims of human trafficking.

Migrant workers are development actors and contribute to development by way of remittances, skills, culture and labour to States of origin, transit and destination, said a statement issued on Friday at the end of a three-day meeting in Bangkok of representatives from 31 governments in the region.

The Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Global Forum on Migration and Development 2010 was organized by the UN Asia-Pacific Regional Thematic Working Group on International Migration including Human Trafficking, which is co-chaired by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with participation from other UN agencies and UN-affiliated organizations.

About one in four of the world’s estimated 214 million migrants live in the Asia-Pacific region, which receives about 42 per cent of global remittances.

The ESCAP noted that international migration is increasingly being recognized as a powerful force for development as migrants contribute to the social, cultural and economic development of both countries of origin and destination.

The meeting recommended that national laws be reviewed to ensure that all migrants, including domestic workers, women and children have access to legal protection, birth registration, and health and education services in both countries of origin and destination.

BBN/SI/AD-25Sept10-1:01 pm (BST)