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Immigrants lining up for food at a distribution centre in Ne York City, USA. Immigrants lining up for food at a distribution centre in Ne York City, USA.   (AFP or licensors)

UN: migrants integral to Covid-19 response and recovery

On International Migrants Day, the United Nations urges countries to include migrants in their Covid-19 response and recovery programmes, saying they are integral to reviving the economy.

By Vatican News

Migrants who are integral to our societies should be central in the world’s response to and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring they have access to social services and are not stranded and left behind.  Through safe, orderly and regular migration, migrants will be enabled to help revive economies at home and abroad and build more inclusive and resilient societies. 

The United Nations made the call on the occasion of International Migrants Day, Friday.  Observed every year on 18 December, International Migrants Day was established by the UN General Assembly in December 2000, urging full respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants.  The theme of this year’s observance is, “Reimagining Human Mobility”.

Migrants’ “outsized role on the frontlines”

In a message for the occasion, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted that in the midst of the global pandemic, societies have come to appreciate their dependence on migrants “who are too often invisible within our communities.”  

“Migrants,” he pointed out, “have played an outsized role on the frontlines of responding to the crisis – from caring for the sick and elderly to ensuring food supplies during lockdowns.”  “Just as migrants are integral to our societies, they should remain central to our recovery.” Hence, despite their legal status, he said, they should be included in every country’s pandemic response, particularly in health and vaccination programming. 

“We must reject hate speech and acts of xenophobia,” he urged, calling for solutions for those migrants who have been left stranded, without income or legal status, and without means to return home.

Reimagine human mobility

“On this International Migrants Day,” Guterres urged, “let us seize the opportunity of the recovery from the pandemic to implement the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, reimagine human mobility, enable migrants to reignite economies at home and abroad, and build more inclusive and resilient societies.”

‘Champions of resilience’

António Vitorino, Director-General of the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), also regarded migrants as “champions of resilience when times are tough”, saying they will be key to the return to normal life as the world moves from pandemic response to recovery.

“But, for this to happen,” he said, “we must reinforce the efforts already made by many countries to ensure migrants are fully included in our COVID-19 responses, including access to social services, and ensuring they do not get left behind.,”  

UNICEF – migrants left out

According to a report by the UN’s children’s fund, UNICEF, on Friday, migrant and displaced children around the world have been largely excluded from national response and recovery plans to the COVID-19 pandemic.  They have also experienced a significant reduction in access to essential services and care.

Data collected through a recent UNICEF survey in 159 countries showed that of the estimated 272 million international migrants globally, 33 million are children, including 12.6 million child refugees and 1.5 million asylum-seekers.

Tens of millions more move within their countries, such as in India, which is home to an estimated 93 million internal child migrants. Across the globe, 21.5 million children have been internally displaced due to conflict, violence or disasters.

Priority to vulnerable children

On International Migrants Day, UNICEF is urging governments to ensure that all vulnerable children – including those living as refugees, migrants or internally displaced – are prioritized in pandemic response and recovery efforts regardless of their status and reached with quality protection, health care, water, sanitation and education services.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore warned that the most vulnerable children are being left on their own to manage the fallout from the pandemic.  “UNICEF calls for more global investment to support these children, and stands ready to work with governments to achieve the positive benefits that migration offers children,” Fore said. (Source: UN) 

18 December 2020, 14:09