Every day, people flee their countries, trying to escape suppression, torture or other horrors and searching for a safer and better life elsewhere. However, in the new country they now call home, many of the migrants only face greater struggles, such as human rights violations, discrimination and poverty. 18 December is International Migrants Day, which aims to highlight the challenges linked to the increasing migration.
The lure of a well-paid job in a wealthy country is a powerful driver of international migration. Yet hope and desire for a better future for oneself and ones children are often overshadowed by the hostility they face in the host countries. ‘They take our jobs’, ‘they reduce our wages’ and other prejudices against migrants are all well-known in developed countries – and especially the ongoing economic crisis has added fuel to the fire.
“Attention to the rights of migrants is especially important at this time of global economic and financial distress,” stressed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on the International Migrants Day. “As budgets tighten, we are seeing austerity measures that discriminate against migrant workers, xenophobic rhetoric that encourages violence against irregular migrants, and proposed immigration laws that allow the police to profile migrants with impunity. During economic downturns, it is worth remembering that whole sectors of the economy depend on migrant workers and migrant entrepreneurs help to create jobs,” Mr. Ban added.
Many advanced economies need migrant workers to fill jobs that cannot be outsourced and that do not find local workers willing to take them at going wages. And as younger generations become better educated, fewer in their ranks are content with low-paid and physically demanding jobs.
In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly will hold its second High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, giving Member States and their partners a chance to discuss practical measures to facilitate labour mobility, foster sustainable development and protect the rights of migrants, especially women and girls which count for 49 per cent of migrants worldwide.
“In the lead-up to the High-level Dialogue, I hope that Member States will approach human rights as a central issue in migration governance; at the national level I encourage them to take such measures as decriminalizing irregular migration, setting up effective alternatives to immigration detention, and ensuring that the functions of public service providers such as nurses or teachers are kept strictly separate from those of the immigration authorities. I also hope participants will duly consider the issue of migration in the context of the post-2015 global development agenda,” underlined the Secretary-General.
On 4 December 2000, the UN General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed 18 December as International Migrants Day. On 18 December 1990, the General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
The Brussels based United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe - UNRIC provides information on UN activities to the countries of the region. It also provides liaison with institutions of the European Union in the field of information. Its outreach activities extend to all segments of society and joint campaigns, projects and events are organized with partners including the EU, governments, the media, NGOs, schools and local authorities.
United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC Brussels)
Residence Palace, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 155, Block C2,7th and 8th floor, Brussels 1040, Belgium
Tel.: +32 2 788 8484 / Fax: 32 2 788 8485