migrants at a boat ramp
Protection of migrants in crisis is more relevant than ever in the face of COVID-19.
Photo:IOM

On this International Migrants Day, let us seize the opportunity of the recovery from the pandemic to implement the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, reimagine human mobility, enable migrants to reignite economies at home and abroad and build more inclusive and resilient societies.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Throughout human history, migration has been a courageous expression of the individual’s will to overcome adversity and to live a better life. Today, globalization, together with advances in communications and transportation, has greatly increased the number of people, who have the desire and the capacity to move to other places.

This new era has created challenges and opportunities for societies throughout the world. It also has served to underscore the clear linkage between migration and development, as well as the opportunities it provides for co-development, that is, the concerted improvement of economic and social conditions at both origin and destination.

Migration draws increasing attention in the world nowadays. Mixed with elements of unforeseeability, emergency, and complexity, the challenges and difficulties of international migration require enhanced cooperation and collective action among countries and regions. The United Nations is actively playing a catalyst role in this area, with the aim of creating more dialogues and interactions within countries and regions, as well as propelling experience exchange and collaboration opportunities.

2020 Theme: Reimagining Human Mobility

Migrants contribute their knowledge, networks, and skills to build stronger, more resilient communities. During the past months, migrants have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. Their work in health, transportation and food services made our lives under lockdown more bearable.

However, like many who find themselves living on the margins of society, migrants are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 through job losses, evictions and discrimination. Millions of migrants are stranded, often without income or shelter, unable to return home due to COVID-19 mobility restrictions, and they also face increased risks of trafficking and exploitation.

The pandemic cannot be used as an excuse to rollback commitments to promote and protect the rights of migrants regardless of their legal status. It cannot become an excuse for the increased use of detention, often in overcrowded conditions, and the forced return of migrants to their countries of origin without due process, in many cases in violation of international law.

People on the move hope for a brighter future. It is our collective responsibility to create a safer, more resilient world.

Migration should be a choice, not a necessity. On #MigrantsDay, let’s reaffirm our commitment to safe and dignified migration for all.

 

 

 

 

 On 26 August, a young girl from the Syrian Arab Republic holds the hand of an adult while standing in a queue of people waiting to board a train to the border with Serbia, near the town of Gevgelija, on the border with Greece.

Today, more people than ever live in a country other than the one in which they were born. While many individuals migrate out of choice, many others migrate out of necessity. In 2019, the number of migrants globally reached an estimated 272 million, 51 million more than in 2010. 

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On 19 September 2016 Heads of State and Government came together for the first time ever at the global level within the UN General Assembly to discuss issues related to migration and refugees. This sent a powerful political message that migration and refugee matters had become major issues squarely on the international agenda. The Global Compact is the first inter-governmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, covering all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. 

 

A crowd of women sitting and laughing

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.