The President of the General Assembly and the Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) urged the international community to not forget to protect migrants in a post-pandemic world.
Speaking to journalists in New York on Friday (20 May), Abdulla Shahid, the President of the 76th Session of the General Assembly, noted that, by the last count, there are roughly over 281 million international migrants in the world, or 3.6 percent of the global population.
Shahid said that “many migrants leave their countries of origin for work, whereas others are forced due to violence, poverty, environmental degradation, and climate change, and many other reasons.”
Regardless of their circumstances, the President said, “the international community has a responsibility to ensure that human rights of everyone involved is respected and protected.”
Shahid also said that the COVID-19 pandemic “demonstrated the integral role migrants play in our communities, including through life saving work in health care, and in supporting critical supply chains.”
Now, Shahid said, as the international community goes forward, it needs to rethink the sort of world it wants.
“We have to work towards making migration safer, more orderly and more regular while promoting social cohesion,” the leader of the General Assembly said.
The IOM Director General, António Vitorino, also said that “migrants are crucial in the social economic fabric of all our societies” and that “has been very evident in the pandemic when migrants were on the frontline guaranteeing that the cities the countries could go on working in spite of the virus.”
Vitorino added, “now we expect from the international community that the role of migrants will also be recognized as key tools in the social economic recovery after the pandemic.”
For the IOM leader, that includes respect for human rights, access to basic services, building alternatives to detention of migrants, and, above all, saving lives.
Vitorino also highlighted that, since the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was adopted in Marrakech in 2018, about 50,000 people have died in migratory routes.