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UN International Migrants Day 2008: Round-up

On December 18, 2008

December 18th is UN International Migrants’ Day, which this year coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Migrant Rights brings you a brief digest of news, comment and events marking the day.

A theme that is bound to dominate this year is the impact of the global financial crisis on migrant labourers, many of whom will suffer from pay cuts and job losses.

In his speech to mark Migrants’ Day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon outlined the added vulnerability that migrant workers face as a result of today’s volatile financial climate, and called for an end to the criminalisation of migrants:

The world’s more than 200 million migrants are especially vulnerable to the financial downturn shaking the global economy. The crisis in markets has put them at greater risk of destitution, stigmatization, discrimination and abuse. Reports of layoffs and lower remittances only begin to tell the story of the human suffering that this crisis has wrought.

Moreover, migration policies are growing ever more restrictive. We continue to see the criminalization of irregular migrants. And all too often, migrants are being dealt with primarily from the perspective of security. There is a growing tendency in many parts of the world to subject them to mandatory or prolonged detention, even though human rights law says that detention should be the exception, not the rule.

You can read the whole thing here:

Indian daily The Hindustan Times has a thoughtful comment piece on the UN and Migrant’s Day here. Eight years since the UN declared December 18th as International Migrants’ Day, it has been struggling to obtain ratification for the International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Their Families writes Dabiru Sridhar Patnaik. The Convention has failed to gather momentum, and many major labour-receiving countries in the EU have still failed to sign, as well as a number of key exporting states- including India, which sends around 450,000 workers abroad each year.

For a view from the grassroots level, the Radio 1812 project makes for essential listening on Migrants’ Day. Radio 1812 is an initiative of December 18, an advocacy organisation campaigning internationally for the rights of migrant workers, and will bring together radio stations and independent broadcasters from around 25 different countries to share a series of short documentaries and personal experiences of migration.

Finally; a brief mention for activities taking place in the Philippines, one of the world’s largest exporters of labour. The UN may give migrants a day, but the Philippines gives them an entire month December is designated the ‘Month of Overseas Filipinos’ which honours the massive economic and social contribution of Filipinos working abroad. This year, the government will mark Migrants’ Day with a day-long conference, the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development (2GFMD), at which two reports on government and civil society will be presented.