International Migrants Day
Geneva Migration Group
International Migrants Day, 18 December 2005
Today marks the sixth International Migrants Day. There are around 185 million international migrants in the world today, more than double the figure only 25 years ago. Factors that have contributed to the increase in the scale of international migration include globalization and growing disparities in living conditions both within and between countries. One in every 35 persons in the world is a migrant. About half of all migrants are economically active.
Migrants provide essential services to the economies and societies of the countries they live in. They also contribute to the development of their countries of origin by supporting their families and communities back home. The importance of remittances for the economy of many developing countries is increasingly being recognised and for some countries surpasses the amount of official development aid received.
Nevertheless, many migrants do not receive recognition for their contributions. Profound misconceptions exist about the role of migrants in society. Foreign professionals and workers play essential roles in advanced economies. In their overwhelming majority they are positive contributors and not a burden on the communities they live in.
Unfortunately, many migrants, especially in low-paid jobs, face discrimination, living at the margin of society without access to adequate housing, education or health care. Often migrants only have access to jobs that place them in hazardous and exploitative work conditions. Migrants therefore constitute a group warranting special attention and protection. A further concern is that relating to exploitation of the migration process by organized criminals to profit by the smuggling of migrants.
Asylum-seekers and refugees also account for a portion of the global movement of people. Different from migrants, their movement is forced by armed conflicts, generalized violence, persecution or other human rights violations. They require international protection and States have particular obligations towards this group.
A world without migrants would be a poorer place, both economically and culturally.
The GMG is committed to upholding universal values and to working together to promote good governance of migration for the promotion of the wider application of all relevant international and regional instruments and norms relating to migration, and for the provision of more coherent and stronger leadership to improve the overall effectiveness of the international community's policy and operational response to current and future migration issues.
About the GMG:
The GMG is constituted by the heads of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM),
the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Committed to the upholding of universal values, the members of the GMG share many objectives and areas of work in the complex and multi-dimensional issue that is migration in the 21st century.