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Migration should be an act of hope not despair - UN Secretary-General

11 January 2018  - this morning, the Secretary-General presented his report Making Migration Work for All to Member States. He emphasized that migration is a positive global phenomenon that powers economic growth, reduces inequalities and connects diverse societies. He noted that migrants make a major contribution to international development – both by their work and by sending remittances to their home countries, which last year added up to nearly $600 billion, that is three times all development aid. However, he said global migration remains poorly managed, as evidenced by the humanitarian crises affecting people on the move & in human rights violations suffered by them.

The Secretary-General said the report recognizes countries’ sovereignty as the basis for better managed migration, but also stresses the need for international cooperation to make progress on the challenges surrounding this issue.

For her part, the Special Representative for International Migration, Louise Arbour, said that sound and smart policies on this topic must be based on facts, not assumptions or myths, and added that countries must consider all the people affected by migration which includes not just migrants but also the families who depend on them.

More information about the report and migration

Managing migration is one of the most urgent and profound tests of international cooperation in our time

(New York, 11 January 2018)   “Migration is an expanding global reality” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres maintains in his report released today. “The time for debating the need for cooperation in this field is past”, and “managing it is one of the most urgent and profound tests of international cooperation of our time.”

Making Migration Work for All, the report released to the UN General Assembly on 11 January 2018, is the Secretary-General’s contribution to the process of developing a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The report offers the Secretary-General’s vision for constructive international cooperation, examining how to better manage migration, for the benefit of all – the migrants themselves, their host communities and their societies of origin.

The Secretary-General emphasizes that “migration is an engine of economic growth, innovation and sustainable development”. The reports highlights that there is a clear body of evidence that, despite real challenges, migration is beneficial both for migrants and host communities, in economic and social terms. The Global Compact will provide Member States the opportunity to maximize those benefits and better address migration challenges.

The report points to an estimated 258 million international migrants, or 3.4% of the world’s population, with levels expected to increase. While the majority of migrants move between countries in a safe, orderly and regular manner, a significant minority of migrants face life-threatening conditions. The report notes that around 6 million migrants are trapped in forced labour, and that recent large-scale movements of migrants and refugees, in regions including the Sahel and South-east Asia, have created major humanitarian crises.

The report calls for the Global Compact to include a special strategy to address this. The report underscores the economic benefits of migration. Migrants spend 85% of their earnings in their host communities and send the remaining 15% to their countries of origin. In 2017 alone, migrants sent home approximately $600 billion in remittances, which is three times all official development assistance. Women, who make up 48% of all migrants, send home a higher percentage of their earnings than men, yet they face more restrictive labour policies and employment customs than men, thus restricting their economic income and social contribution.

Member States are urged “to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls” as a central element of the Global Compact. The Secretary-General encourages governments to work together to establish a productive and humane global migration system which would enhance, rather than detract from sovereignty. If governments open more legal pathways for migration, based on realistic analyses of labour market needs, there is likely to be fewer border crossings, fewer migrants working outside the law and fewer abuses of irregular migrants.

The Secretary-General maintains that a new approach to migration is necessary. “It is now time to draw together all parts of the UN system, including International Organization for Migration (IOM), to support Member State efforts to address migration.” The Secretary-General commits to work within the UN system to identify new ways to help Member States manage migration better based on the Global Compact. 

For mor information visit: http://refugeesmigrants.un.org/2017-secretary-generals-report




Countries commit to work together on refugee protection at Caribbean Migration Consultations

UNHCR logo


Nassau, The Bahamas – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, applauds the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas for its leadership role hosting the second meeting of the Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC), a regional platform developed to address common challenges related to increasing flows of refugees and migrants arriving in the region. 

“Close cooperation among the countries of the Caribbean is the key to addressing flows of refugees and migrants in ways that are safe and humane, and the Caribbean region is setting standards for other parts of the world in its approach to this issue,” said Matthew Reynolds, UNHCR Regional Representative for the United States and the Caribbean.

At the two-day meeting on December 5-6, delegations from 18 countries, CARICOM, the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration discussed developments in the region related to refugee protection and statelessness.

Country delegates described the progress made over the last year, including good practices in developing refugee legislation and standard operating procedures, alternatives to immigration detention, the integration of refugees into host communities, and the development of innovative approaches among diverse stakeholders to respond to large-scale forced displacement. UNHCR presented a Checklist for a Comprehensive Asylum System, and provided an overview of identity management and registration mechanisms.

“The Government of The Bahamas was delighted to be given the opportunity to host the second CMC,” said Jewel Major, Chief Counsel at the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs.  “To be a leader in this discussion regionally is a privilege and we hope to continue to provide leadership that motivates and stimulates our region,” said Major.

Consistent with global trends, a rising number of people fleeing life-threatening violence and persecution have sought protection in the Caribbean in recent years. The registered population of refugees and asylum-seekers in the region has risen by more than 50 percent from January 2017 to November 2017, underscoring the urgency for governments to develop coordinated policies that effectively address new challenges, such as forced displacement as a result of natural disasters.

“The countries and communities that receive and host refugees are the mainstays of the international protection regime, and their generosity is truly remarkable,” said UNHCR’s Reynolds.Following the commitments made in the Brazil Plan of Action, a regional protection framework for the Caribbean and Latin America, Caribbean countries established the CMC in 2016 as a State-led process to promote consistent approaches towards mixed migration.  

All States participating in this year’s meeting agreed that their active engagement in this regional forum presented an important achievement and that cooperation was essential to address the challenge of refugee protection and mixed migration.


For more information on this topic, please contact:In Washington, DC: Gary Seidman, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +202 461 2346


Time to improve governance in labour migration in Latin America and Caribbean – UN

1 September 2016 – With migrant workers representing 64 per cent of the 232 million migrants in the world in 2015, it is urgent to deal “correctly” with labour migration by implementing good governance mechanisms, a United Nations report on these movements in Latin America and the Caribbean has warned.

The last five years have seen the number of migrant workers living in this region rise from 3.2 million to 4.3 million, according to a news release from the International Labour Organization (ILO) centred on the report “Labour migration in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

“The search for work opportunities is definitely the main motivation of the migrants,” ILO Regional Director José Manuel Salazar said as he launched the report in México City earlier this week. “Nevertheless, migratory policies are often seen from the border control and national security paradigm, and do not take into account the labour dimension.”

Furthermore, “there is a clear divorce between employment policies and labour migration policies, and now it is extremely urgent for them to complement each other,” Mr. Salazar said.

The ILO study identifies and analyzes a “complex system” of 11 main corridors used by workers, nine of them interregional south-south corridors which connect countries within this region, and two south-north corridors with the United States and Spain as destinations.

The ILO suggested that labour migration must be urgently dealt with by implementing good governance mechanisms, and by linking it with the necessities and dynamics of the world of work.

At the Casa del Migrante de Saltillo, a migrant shelter in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, a day’s journey to the Texas border, migrants are given food, medical care and legal aid. Photo: Amy Stillman/IRIN

“If we can handle labour migration, we can maintain and increase inclusive economic growth in destination countries and reduce poverty in origin countries,” Mr. Salazar said.

The Regional Director added that “history teaches us nothing can stop migratory flows, neither fences nor walls; we also know it is not easy for destination societies to adapt to the arrival of workers, but we need to take advantage of the opportunities and the potential these human resources represent for our societies.”

The report also underlined several features in the corridors: the “feminization” of labour migration, with women accounting for more than 50 per cent of migrants; the high proportion of irregular and informal migrant workers and the low access to social protection; and the frequently deficient work conditions as well as abuse, exploitation and discrimination facing many migrant workers.

Better strategies needed

The report highlighted empties and fragmentation in regional migratory agreements, a weak labour and rights perspective in migratory institutions and governing, and lack of coherence between migratory and employment policies.

The report stated that stakeholders of the world of work, including Labour Ministries, employers and workers’ organizations, must participate more actively in creating migration strategies. It also warned that migrant workers do not participate enough in unionization and collective bargaining processes.

The main action points suggested by the ILO for Latin America and the Caribbean are:

  • Promoting a regular, safe and equal migration;
  • Promoting fair recruitment processes;
  • Improving work conditions and formalization of migrant workers;
  • Promoting a better governability of migrations and a more solid social dialogue;
  • Use a rights perspective to tackle migration;
  • Strengthen the links between employment and labour migration policies;
  • Promoting perspectives of gender, protection of migrant children and prevention of migrant child labour; and
  • Raise awareness about the contribution to development made by migrant workers.

Xenophobia ( people on the move)

ibelong twitter card 2An estimated 232 million people currently live outside their country of origin, many having moved for a variety of reasons in which the search for protection and the search for opportunity are inextricably entwined.

Migration affects every region of the world, and many countries are now simultaneously countries of origin, destination and transit. Large numbers of migrants today move between developing countries, and around 40 percent of the total global migrant population have moved to a neighbouring country within their region of origin. 

Migrants are often to be found working in jobs that are dirty, dangerous and degrading (the 3 Ds). While for some migration is a positive and empowering experience, far too many migrants have to endure human rights violations, discrimination, and exploitation.

[ learn more ]

Xenophobia in the Caribbean:

Across the Caribbean region discrimination against people of different places of origin exists today.  This region shares a common history of the Trans-atlantic slave trade and the following indentureship, but yet still there are challenges that arise between peoples as they move around the region in search of a better quality of life.

Negative attitueds towards foreign natonals from 'other islands' is a common occurence and is often related  to social and economic policies or decisions taken by states to limit or restrict inwards migration or the perception that alien nationals are stealing jobs or draiing the national purse and social services. Other types of issues include fear of loss of national culutre , mores and values to those of migrants and mistrust of nationals from organisations that acquire local companies.

 Most Caribbean states are not party to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, of 18 December 1990.

Another issue for this region is the issue of and influx of refugees, although in not as the same magnitude as the US  Canada or Europe. In some cases the High Commissioner for Huan Rights and High Commissioner for Refugees have reported that some nationals from the Caribbean have filed as refugees in other countries based on human rights abuses. 


 Table of Refugees & Assylum seekers - Caribbean ( as at Dec 2014) reported by each government



 Originating From


Residing In

 Country  Refugees 













Antigua & Barbuda


53 17








215 42


0 13 17 0 75



86 20


0 1 0 0 0



45 84


0 10 114 0 0



38 17


0 0 0 0 0



324 52


0 0 0 0 0



700 145


0 11 1 0 0



1,692 608


0 22 0 0 0

St. Kitts & Nevis


22 12


0 1 0 0 0

St. Lucia


922 33


0 3 0 0 0

St. Vincent & the Grenadines


1,736 46


0 0 0 0 0



17 47


0 0 2 0 0

Trinidad & Tobago


371 173


0 83 87 0 0

* Refers to individuals who do not necessarily fall directly into any of the other groups but to whom UNHCR may extend its protection and/or assistance services.

These activities might be based on humanitarian or other special grounds. Source: UNHCR/Governments. Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.


UN agencies working together to address migration by sea

Several United Nations agencies have agreed to establish a mechanism to enhance existing inter-agency communication with respect to the maritime aspects of mixed migration by sea.
Agencies concerned about the loss of life, injury, trauma and serious human rights violations affecting migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees traveling by sea met in London last week (4-5 March) at the headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). 
Building on the ‘Joint Statement on Protection at Sea in the Twenty-First Century’, that was agreed during the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ Dialogue on Protection Challenges, held in Geneva on 10 December 2014, it was agreed to establish an interim, informal mechanism for enhancing inter-agency communication on the subject. 
The intention is that the mechanism would facilitate operational-level communication between relevant agencies bilaterally and multilaterally and provide a conduit for better informing the Global Migration Group (GMG) on maritime issues.
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