Post by: Owen Shumba, Team Leader, Livelihoods and Economic Recovery Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP. He leads UNDP’s work on migration and displacement. You can follow him on Twitter at @OwenShumba. This blog originally appeared at http://www.undp.org on the occasion of the International Migrants Day.
On the occasion of the International Migrants Day, let us not forget the millions of migrants in different parts of the world, from Lake Chad Basin or the Mediterranean Sea to Europe; the ones toiling and dying in slavery conditions in Libya; the Rohingya in Myanmar, in the dangerous waters of the Andaman Sea and those facing hunger in Bangladesh.
Let’s not forget the Migrants and asylum seekers treading bare footed in the northern Triangle in Latin America, many of them unaccompanied minors, set on reaching the United States of America, nor should we forget the over five million Syrians spread across neighbouring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt; let alone the ones that crossed to Europe.
But let’s also today, on the occasion of International Migrants Day, celebrate the heroes that have provided the needed shelter, land, protection, food, health, education, economic opportunities – jobs and livelihoods to the migrants and refugees; the countries that have allowed them a safer passage within their borders and above all provided them with security and livelihoods.
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has summed up migration well:
“Migration has always been with us. Climate change, demographics, instability, growing inequalities, and aspirations for a better life, as well as unmet needs in labour markets, mean it is here to stay. The answer is effective international cooperation in managing migration to ensure that its benefits are most widely distributed, and that the human rights of all concerned are properly protected.”
Host countries, host communities, resettlement countries and countries of free and secure transit are not only sharing the burden but saving lives and people’s livelihoods. In most cases, it is developing countries and middle-income countries that have the greatest per capita occupancy by migrants, be they economic migrants, refugees or asylum seekers. They are not idle, but contributing immensely to economies in these countries. Hats off to them.
We are all migrants after all. We left our countries maybe a few weeks, a few years or long ago. The drivers and root causes of leaving are many as summed up by the UN Secretary-General. This is precisely why as a development agency, UNDP is a key partner of Member States, UN agencies and civil society organizations working towards Safe Migration in a World on the Move.
On the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants by the UN General Assembly on 19 September 2016, UNDP made the following commitments to support Member States achieve safe, orderly and regular migration: