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UN led consultations highlight the benefits of migrants

 Although the net benefits of migration far outweigh its costs, the public perception is often the opposite, a senior United Nations official pointed out today, as the latest round of consultations on a global compact for migration began in New York.

“Such public perceptions and attitudes negatively influence sound migration policy choices. This must be reversed so that policy is evidence-based and not perception-driven”

Louise Arbour
UN Special Representative for International Migration


The UN Special Representative for International Migration  said that policies responding to false perceptions reinforce the apparent validity of these erroneous stereotypes and make recourse to proper policies that much harder.

The consultation is the fourth in a series of six thematic consultations that will take place this year and feed into the drafting of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), expected to be adopted by UN Member States in 2018.

An outgrowth of the New York Declaration, adopted at a 2016 UN Summit on refugees and migrants, the Compact will be the first intergovernmental negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the UN, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a comprehensive manner.

The current consultation, conducted by representatives of Member States, UN agencies, civil society, migrants and diaspora, examines the challenges and opportunities in leveraging the economic and social contributions of migrants to countries of origin and destination.

Ms. Arbour pointed out that in 2016 migrants sent $429 billion to their countries of origin – one of their most tangible contributions to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in developing countries.

read the full story at - http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57243#.WXZtAWLyuM8

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UN envoy urges policies that reject ‘us vs. them’ migration tactics

8 May 2017 – A lack of trust leads to increased intolerance and xenophobia, the United Nations envoy on international migration told UN Member States told, calling on Governments to review and put in place effective migration policies that reject an “us vs. them” mentality between national and migrants.

“Migrants are not a burden. Even less so are they a threat. Properly managed, migration stands to benefit all,” Louise Arbour, the Special Representative for International Migration said in Geneva, kicking off the process to the first-ever global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, due to be adopted in 2018.

She urged Governments to ratify and implement all international and regional human right instruments and related conventions, so that their countries’ migration policies would be grounded in human right norms and standards.

“Success will rest in large part on your sustained engagement, in word and deed, to changing the optic by which we view migration, from a phenomenon currently feared by too many, to one that better reflects its overwhelmingly positive impact on society,” Ms. Arbour said.

The UN envoy was addressing the first informal session on the human rights of migrants, looking at their social inclusion and cohesion in societies, and the necessity to counter discrimination including racism, xenophobia and intolerance against migrants.

The two-day session opened today under the co-facilitation of Switzerland and Mexico. It is the first of six thematic discussions to be held between now and November, as consultations for the intergovernmental conference on international migration in 2018, of which Ms. Arbour is the Secretary-General.Leading up to the conference, the UN launched the Together initiative last year to change negative perception and attitudes towards refugees and migrants, and to strengthen the social contract between host countries and communities, and refugees and migrants. The initiative bolsters the work of the 2016 UN Summit to Address Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants and its outcome, the landmark New York Declaration.

In today’s session, Ms. Arbour noted that deep-seated attitudes of prejudice and xenophobia, which many of the world’s 245 million migrants often confront, is particularly felt by so-called “irregular migrants” who enter, stay or work in a country without the necessary authorization.

While such migrants may have constituted administrative offences, “they are not crimes per se against persons, property or national security. And while states retain the sovereign prerogative to order their removal, the very presence of such migrants under their jurisdiction places certain obligations on national authorities.”

These obligations include protections, which despite political commitments, are not implemented, and include access to services.

“Putting in place ‘firewalls’ between immigration enforcement and public services is an effective way to facilitate access to justice, housing, health care, education, social protection and social and labour services for migrants,” Ms. Arbour said.

She continued that the erroneous perception of an increased influx of irregular migration, combined with a lack of trust in state capacities to deal with such influxes has led to increased intolerance and rejection of migrants – particularly in communities that face poverty or discrimination themselves.


Louise Arbour - UN Special Representative for International Migration

Louise Arbour

UN Special Representative for International Migration


“Distrust grows between host communities and irregular migrants when an effective migration policy is not in place, devolving into an ‘us vs. them’ mentality between nationals and migrants,” 



Irregular migration by some people feeds xenophobic and racist attitudes against all migrants, creating a “downward spiral of hatred that risks becoming insurmountable.”

In contrast, facilitating access to legal avenues for migration and access to work would reduce the need for many to migrate through irregular channels, the UN envoy noted.

“Policies related to migrants must include the participation of all actors with a stake in the outcome,” she said, “including local governments, trade unions, employers’ organizations, national human rights bodies, private sector, recruitment agencies, security and justice service providers, civil society and youth organizations and migrants.”

The second information thematic discussion will be held next month in New York. It will address drivers of migration, such as climate change and human-made crises.

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'We have to be the hope' for people most in need, says top UN humanitarian official

18 August 2016 – Praising the spirit and drive of relief workers, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O'Brien, has said the global humanitarian community is determined to not let political disagreements, conflicts or natural disasters get in the way of their ability to help the people who are most in need.

 

“We have to be their hope; that we can be the ones to reach them, even if nobody else can,” said Mr. O'Brien in an interview with UN News Service.

He added that it is also equally important that humanitarian actors, who are neutral and impartial, are provided with safe and unimpeded access.

Speaking specifically about the desperate humanitarian situation Syria, the UN relief chief underscored the urgency of ensuring safe access for relief workers.

“[Parties to the conflict] and all those who have influence on them [need] to recognize [that now] is the time to have a ceasefire […] and that there is safety for humanitarians to get in to meet those needs,” he stressed.

Mr. O'Brien also praised the bravery of humanitarian workers in the country, where intense fighting has not only put the lives of many at risk, but also severely impeded their ability to access or deliver humanitarian assistance to the people in need.

 

Turning commitments into action is vital

 

In the interview, taken just ahead of World Humanitarian Day, Mr. O'Brien, who is also the UN Under-Secretary-General for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the Day is an occasion for everyone, as global citizens, to reflect on the opportunity and to make a real contribution to meeting the needs of the human beings on this planet who're the most vulnerable.

He added that the Day is also linked to the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit which was held in Istanbul, Turkey, in late May.

The Summit provided a common purpose and understanding of the need to have strong political will to sustain the resources necessary to be able to respond to the needs of the more than 130 million people who require urgent live-saving assistance, explained Mr. O'Brien.

“We have about $21.6 billion this year [to] meet the needs of people, who have suddenly been – through no fault of their own – cast into crisis,” he said, underscoring that turning the commitments expressed at the Summit into action is vital.

“Those who made the commitments will become the champions for delivering on these commitments, and to build the will and support […] to help us better meet the needs of humanitarian suffering,” he added.

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