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

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PRESS RELEASE - 12 DECEMBER 2017

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

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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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‘Let’s build bridges, not walls,’ says UN chief, urging all countries to help refugees and migrants

11 August 2016 – Encouraging young refugees gathered for an event at resettlement centre in Los Angeles to “study hard [and] be a full part of your new communities,” United NationsSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the United States and other countries to keep reaching out to people in need, wherever they are, because “we will all be stronger” by building bridges instead of walls.

“Have hope […] I have faith in you,” Mr. Ban said in a special message to young people gathered last night for a back-to-school event hosted by the International Rescue Committee, the Annenberg Foundation and the UN Foundation, after his visit to resettlement centre where he met refugees, including from Guatemala and Syria, and other countries from Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

He assured the gathering that he is working hard for other refugee families around the world, and noted that on 19 September, at UN Headquarters in New York, the General Assembly will convene a Summit on Refugees and Migrants where, among other proposed commitments, governments will agree that refugee children should go to school as soon as possible after arrival in the country that gives them asylum.

“I encourage countries like the United States to continue to demonstrate leadership by providing safe haven to more refugees – including Syrian refugees,” said the Secretary-General, adding: “Let’s keep reaching out a helping hand to people in their time of need. Let’s never give in to the forces of fear and division. Let’s welcome people into their new communities as neighbours and friends. Let’s build bridges, not walls. We will all be stronger for it.”

He went on to recall that he himself had been displaced as a young boy. “I did not flee my country, but my family and I were driven out of our village by war – the Korean war. I was only 6 years old. Everything was destroyed. The United Nations came to our rescue. They gave us food. They gave us shelter. They gave us school supplies,” he said.

“Now I am here as the head of the United Nations to give school supplies to you. If I could do it, you can do it,” said Mr. Ban.

Earlier yesterday, the Secretary-General also participated in a public discussion with United States Congressman Ed Royce, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He thanked the Congressman for his leadership on a wide-range of global issues. During a bilateral meeting, they had an opportunity to discuss the situations is South Sudan, Myanmar and the Korean peninsula.

Mr. Ban also participated in two events with the creative community yesterday, in which he talked to attendees, including, among others, film producer and director Brett Ratner, about how he strongly believed in the ability of the industry to be a power for social good.

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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.

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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 

 Assylum

Seekers 

 Returned

Refugees

Other*

  

 Refugees 

Assylum

Seekers

Returned

Refugees

Other*

Antigua & Barbuda

 

53 17

0

0

0

0

0

Bahamas

 

215 42

0

0 13 17 0 75

Barbados

 

86 20

0

0 1 0 0 0

Belize

 

45 84

0

0 10 114 0 0

Dominica

 

38 17

0

0 0 0 0 0

Grenada

 

324 52

0

0 0 0 0 0

Guyana

 

700 145

0

0 11 1 0 0

Jamaica

 

1,692 608

0

0 22 0 0 0

St. Kitts & Nevis

 

22 12

0

0 1 0 0 0

St. Lucia

 

922 33

0

0 3 0 0 0

St. Vincent & the Grenadines

 

1,736 46

0

0 0 0 0 0

Suriname

 

17 47

0

0 0 2 0 0

Trinidad & Tobago

 

371 173

0

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.

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