“It has never been as urgent as today to show solidarity with migrants, “said the Secretary General of the United Nations this Saturday on the occasion of International Migrants Day, celebrated every December 18.
In his message for the day, António Guterres recalled that today there are more individuals than at any other time in history living in a country other than their own and emphasized that although many people emigrate by choice, many more leave their home out of necessity.
UN data shows that in 2020, 281 million people or 3.6% of the world’s population, they were international migrants.
Stigma, xenophobia and racism
However, these people “continue to be stigmatized, inequalities, xenophobia and racism widespread, ”Guterres lamented.
He added that women and girls Migrants face a higher risk of gender-based violence and have fewer options to seek support.
“With the closing of the borders, many migrants have been stranded with no income or housing, unable to return home, away from his family, and with an uncertain future, “he said.
All this despite the fact that during the pandemic migrants have enriched societies around the world and have often constituted the first answer line as part of the scientific, sanitary and essential personnel.
Guterres considered that the world needs a more effective international cooperation and a more compassionate perspective to harness the potential of human mobility.
Migrants endure dire conditions at the Belarusian-Polish border
Human management of borders
“This means managing borders humanely, fully respect human rights and the humanitarian needs of each and everyone and ensure that national vaccination plans against COVID-19 include migrants, “he said.
It also means recognizing the value that ordinary channels of entry have for them and for host countries, as well as address the underlying causes of migration, such as great inequalities, and combat illegal trafficking and human trafficking.
“On International Migrants Day, let us reaffirm our determination to achieve a safe and dignified migration”, Concluded the Secretary General, alluding to the Global Compact on Migration.
Raw and frequent images
This year, the international journey comes almost 70 years after the historic Brussels conference that led to the establishment of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The director general of that UN agency, António Vitorino, pointed out that the crude images of closed borders and separated families, amid the economic turmoil fueled by the pandemic have become more common in recent years.
For Vitorino, the health emergency has also generated a new wave of anti-migrant sentiment, as has the use of migrants as political change tokens.
“Both things are unacceptable”, He specified.
He argued that the response to the pandemic has underscored the importance of migrant workers to keep everyone safe.
UNHCR / Rocco Nuri
Congolese asylum seekers queue for a security and health check in Zombo, near the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Social and economic impact
Vitorino highlighted the positive social and economic impact of migrants in the countries where they reside and of the $ 540 billion in remittances sent in 2020 to their countries, generally low and middle income.
The head of the IOM asserted that to take advantage of the full potential of human mobility, governments must move from words to action and include migrants, regardless of their legal status, in their recovery plans social and economic.
Likewise, he continued, countries should reinforce legal migration channels that respect the national sovereignty and human rights of people on the move.
“A integral approach it requires that we put aside the defensive posture that too often victimizes people throughout their migratory journeys ”, Vitorino pointed out.