International Migrants Day

photo: photo: DIFD

International Migrants Day, 18 December, reminds the world of the enormous contribution of the more than 250 million migrants to the world economy and to societies and communities.

It must also serve as a call to action on the global refugee crisis, with more than 20 million people having fled violence and destitution to move abroad, and twice this number displaced inside their countries of origin, the vast majority in developing countries.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “With far-right politicians exploiting inequality and economic uncertainly, vilifying those fleeing oppression and war, the international community must stand up to xenophobia and show solidarity and compassion with those who are being forced from their homes, such as right now in Aleppo where a dictatorial regime is murdering its own people and fuelling vicious fundamentalist factions. Refugees should be welcomed and supported, with the right to work in countries where they settle.

“Migrant workers make a huge contribution to the societies and economies where they live. People have migrated since the beginning of human history, and today, migrant workers are integral to economic and social development. We must stand strong in the face of those who seek to demonise migrants, and ensure that their rights as workers and their broader human rights are respected.”

International Labour Organisation studies show that migration has a net positive impact on a country’s GDP, while the World Bank has estimated that a 3% increase in the workforces of wealthy countries from migration would boost World GDP by $365 billion up to 2025.

“Governments need to develop effective global governance of migration, based on fundamental human rights, putting an end to systems of modern slavery such as in the Gulf, and stopping organised crime syndicates which are reaping vast wealth from international migration. National legislation must also ensure that migrant workers are not treated as an underclass in the workforce. Top priority must be given to tackling the conflict and absolute poverty which are driving the world’s greatest refugee crisis in 70 years.

With only a handful of countries in the world not directly or indirectly involved in armed conflict, we must make sure that the fundamental values of freedom and peace are paramount and that the factors driving conflict, including the arms trade which, at over $100 billion per year, is fuelling wars and impoverishing developing countries, are tackled,” added Burrow.

The ITUC is calling for global, cooperative resettlement strategies and the global funds vital for social protection and the infrastructure to meet refugee needs in host countries, along with action to end conflicts and poverty.