Over 100 Nations Urge Safe Migration 05/21 08:56
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- More than 100 nations have approved a declaration
calling on governments to intensify efforts for safe and orderly migration,
crack down on human smuggling and trafficking, and ensure that migrants are
respected and receive health care and other services.
The 13-page declaration was adopted by consensus by U.N. member nations
attending a four-day meeting to review the first international agreement
dealing with migration. The Global Compact was approved by the U.N. General
Assembly in December 2018, and participants at this week's meeting recommended
that the 193-member world body also endorse Friday's declaration in the coming
Assembly President Abdulla Shahid said many migrants leave their countries
to find work while others are forced to leave due to violence, poverty,
environmental degradation and climate change.
"Regardless of their circumstances, the international community has a
responsibility to ensure that the human rights of everyone involved are
respected," he told a news conference earlier Friday.
The declaration expresses concern "that progress achieved in facilitating
and harnessing the benefits of safe, orderly and regular migration is slow and
uneven in many areas" and stresses that "greater efforts are needed by member
states to develop ambitious national responses for the implementation of the
Antonio Vitorino, director-general of the International Organization for
Migration, told a news conference before the adoption that there are several
areas where "an extra push" is needed to make the vision of the Global Compact
a reality: "respect for human rights, access to basic services, alternatives to
the detention of migrants and, above all, I would emphasize, saving lives of
The declaration said as many as 281 million people were international
migrants in 2020 globally, of whom 48% were women and girls and 15% were under
the age of 20. It recognized "the value and dignity of the labor of all migrant
workers in all sectors," and said they transferred over $751 billion in
remittances, which are "a critical source of support for families and
communities," to their home countries.
The 34-page compact addresses all aspects of migration -- why people leave
their home countries, how to protect them, integrate them and co-operate in
returning them home safely. Its principles include recognizing the sovereignty
of nations and reaffirming that migrants have the same human rights as all
other people that "must be respected, protected and fulfilled at all times."
The compact has 23 objectives "for safe, orderly and regular migration" that
seek to boost cooperation in managing legal migration and discourage illegal
These range from technical issues like collecting data, ensuring migrants
have proof of their legal identity, and promoting faster and safer transfer
home of earnings by migrant workers, to such matters as preventing and
eradicating trafficking, providing access to basic services for migrants, and
using migration detention "only as a measure of last resort."
Vitorino said 15,000 migrants have died "in dangerous and perilous migratory
tragedies" since the Global Compact was adopted.
"We believe that there's a need to scale up certain rescue operations
particularly to those migrants who go through the sea, through the desert, and
through the jungle," he said.
"We have a number of hot spots and know where the problems are," Vitorino
said, pointing to the Gulf of Aden, the central Mediterranean and the Darin
Gap jungle, the inhospitable stretch of land that separates Colombia and Panama.
"We need to be more effective in opening regular pathways for migrations,"
he said. "That's the real alternative to letting migrants be prone to
traffickers and smugglers because trafficking and smuggling is the most
obnoxious attempt against the fundamental rights of migrants."
The U.N.'s top migration official said all migrants move in vulnerable
conditions but some are more vulnerable than others including women and girls
who have been "particularly prone to abusers, gender-based violence, rapes."
The declaration said migrants continue to struggle to get humanitarian
assistance, including search and rescue efforts at sea and medical care, "which
creates and exacerbates situations of vulnerability."
"Limited progress has been made in distinguishing the activities of
smuggling networks from the provision of assistance of an exclusively
humanitarian nature for migrants along perilous routes and in other situations
where their life or safety is in danger," it said. "In many cases, the
provision of such assistance has been considered unlawful."
In the declaration, governments said they commit to eliminating all forms of
discrimination targeting migrants including racism, xenophobia, stigmatization
hate speech and hate crimes. They also commit to protecting freedom of
expression and "to respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights and
fundamental freedoms of all migrants."
Vitorino said the declaration provides guidelines for action "and we are
ready to work over the next four years to make, each day, a difference, making
outcomes better, thinking above all of the millions of lives of migrants that
depend on international protection and international cooperation."