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United Nations Human Rights Day 2009

Discrimination against migrants

Discrimination Against Migrants

The Durban Declaration pointed out that xenophobia against non-nationals, and in particular, migrants, constitutes one of the main sources of contemporary racism. Migrants are often discriminated against in housing, education, health, work or social security. According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, around 200 million people live outside their country of origin, which will amount to 3.1% of the world population in 2010.

Migrants arriving irregularly in a new country and victims of trafficking stopped by the police are often detained in administrative centers or in prisons. Overcrowded immigration detention centers often have poor access to healthcare, inadequate food, sanitation or safe drinking water and a lack of separate sanitation facilities for men and women. Equally, there is an increasing tendency to criminalize migration offenses, which has, in some cases, resulted in violations of migrants’ rights.

Today, one of the key obstacles hindering migrants’ integration and equal access to human rights in host societies is persistent anti-migrant sentiments and discriminatory practices. Such sentiments and practices are often reinforced by legislation, regulations and policies to restrict migratory flows, as evidenced by the increasing tendency to criminalize irregular migration. The global economic crisis and rising unemployment have further aggravated these trends. Addressing negative perceptions of migrants within host communities is therefore a key element of promoting their integration and enhancing their contribution to development.

For more information and to see what the UN is doing to combat discrimination against migrants, click here.