Dec. 18, 2020, 11 a.m.
In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly and UNESCO Executive Board in Paris, marked 18 December as the International Migrants Day. 18 December was declared as a remarkable day to accord the rights of migrants and raise awareness on the difficulties that they live through all around the world.
Migrants contribute their knowledge, networks, and skills to build stronger, more resilient communities. During the past months, migrants have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. Their work in health, transportation, and food services made our lives under lockdown more bearable. However, like many who find themselves living on the margins of society, migrants are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 through job losses, evictions, and discrimination. Millions of migrants are stranded, often without income or shelter, unable to return home due to COVID-19 mobility restrictions, and they also face increased risks of trafficking and exploitation.
The pandemic cannot be used as an excuse to rollback commitments to promote and protect the rights of migrants regardless of their legal status. It cannot become an excuse for the increased use of detention, often in overcrowded conditions, and the forced return of migrants to their countries of origin without due process, in many cases in violation of international law.
People on the move hope for a brighter future. It is our collective responsibility to create a safer, more resilient world.
Migration should be a choice, not a necessity.