LONDON, Feb 6 /PRNewswire/ — The latest results of the Henley Passport Index show a record level of freedom of movement for applicants Japan and Singapore, but also the largest global mobility gap since the index was launched 17 years ago. Without thinking about the temporary restrictions related to Covid, passport holders from the two Asian countries can travel visa-free to 192 countries around the world – 166 more than Afghanistan, which ranks last in the index.
This widening gap in international mobility between rich and poor countries came to the fore late last year through a series of punitive Omicron-related restrictions on mainly African countries enacted by the United Nations. Secretary-General António Guterres called this “travel apartheid”. And this is despite the fact that the total number of passports in the world has increased significantly over the past two decades. Exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the average person could visit 57 countries without a visa in 2006. Today that number has risen to 107, but behind this overall increase hides a growing gap between countries in the global north and those in the global south: can Citizens of countries such as Sweden and the United States can visit more than 180 destinations without a visa, while passport holders of Angola, Cameroon and Laos can only travel to about 50 countries.
Covid-19 is exacerbating inequality in global mobility
Germany and South Korea jointly occupy second place in the current ranking and give passport holders visa-free access to 190 travel destinations, while Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain share the third place with 189 points. US and British passports have regained some of their former strength after slipping to eighth place in 2020 – the lowest place either country has held in the index’s 17-year history. Both countries now rank sixth with a visa-free / visa-on-arrival score of 186.
Doctor. Christian H. Kaelin, president of Henley & Partner and inventor of the Passport Index concept, says opening immigration channels is vital to recovery from the pandemic. Passports and visas are among the most important tools that have an impact on social inequality around the world, as they determine opportunities for global mobility. The boundaries we are born with and the documents we are allowed to have are no less arbitrary than the color of our skin. Rich countries need to encourage positive migration to support the redistribution and balance of human and material resources around the world.”
Professor Mehari Tadele Maru of the Center for Migration Policy comments in the Henley Global Mobility Report 2022 Q1, published today along with the latest Henley Passport Index ranking, that “The prohibitive requirements associated with international travel are inequality and institutionalize discrimination. Covid-19 and its interaction with instability and inequality have highlighted and exacerbated the shocking disparity in international mobility between rich industrial nations and their poorer counterparts.”
Expect more uncertainty for 2022
Misha Glenny, award-winning journalist and associate professor at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, notes in the report the impact of the pandemic on broader geopolitical trends in migration and mobility:
The presence of Omicron alone indicates a major geopolitical failure. If the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union had provided more money and vaccines to South Africa, the likelihood of such a powerful new strain would have been much lower. Unless we make vaccine distribution fairer, new mutations can put us all back where we started.”
Doctor. Andreas Brauchlin, an internationally recognized specialist in cardiology and internal medicine and member of the advisory board of the SIP Family Medical Office in Switzerland, agrees with the report: “A person’s health and vaccination status have as much of an impact on mobility as a visa without a passport. Living in the country can affect” The error “severely affects access to business, health and medical services and makes it impossible for some to travel.”
Read the full press release and the Henley Global Mobility 2022 Q1 report.
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