International Migrants Day: Recognizing Migration is a Benefit that Works for All

Jan 13, 2020

Harare – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Zimbabwe joins the world in commemorating International Migrants Day under the theme Social Cohesion: Recognizing Migration is a Benefit that Works for All. The day presents an opportunity for governments and migration stakeholders to reflect on challenges migrants face as well as inspire the national and international communities to explore ways to better manage migration for the benefit of migrants and society.

As the world observes the day this year, IOM focuses on social cohesion, in recognition not just of migrants, but of the communities in which they can and do flourish.

UN Secretary General António Guterres said, “Migrants are integral members of society, contributing to mutual understanding and sustainable development in communities of both origin and destination.” 

Due to socio economic challenges facing the continent, young Africans are migrating at increasingly higher rates across the globe, and are met with significant immigration, sociocultural and economic challenges. They face obstacles to obtaining access to education and training, health and limited opportunities for taking part in civic life.

Immigrants are commonly portrayed in communications media, public discourse and private debate as competing for scarce employment and housing, unfairly or illegally drawing on public welfare resources, and associated with criminality. Concurrently, adverse public perceptions, opinions and resentment against foreigners, particularly migrant workers are widespread across host communities.

IOM Director General António Vitorino said, “Too often, when we speak of migration, we debate whether it is good or bad, costs too much or pays out too little and the precise contributions that migrants make to our lives. But to view migration as an accounting practice is to reduce it to a fraction of its whole. It is an evolving, often challenging and yet integral part of our societies, enriching them in multiple, intangible ways.”

“The communities that thrive are those that embrace change and adjust to it. Migrants are an integral and welcome element of that change. Migrants can also become champions of resilience when times are tough, when a community experiences unexpected shocks, including environmental change and disaster, unemployment, and political turmoil.”

The Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity states that, "Policies for the inclusion and participation of all citizens are guarantees of social cohesion, the vitality of civil society and peace.”

IOM Zimbabwe has supported the government to develop laws and policies such as the National Labour Migration Policy, National Diaspora Policy, the Trafficking in Persons Act and on-going National Migration Policy to promote migrants’ rights and social cohesion in the country.

Through its various projects, IOM Zimbabwe has also promoted social cohesion through re integration support to migrants and survivors of Human Trafficking, advocacy and lobbying for migrants’ rights and provision of emergency shelter and non-food items to migrant communities.

IOM calls on the government of Zimbabwe to maintain social cohesion in the context of inevitably greater diversity and migration in Zimbabwe. This requires a policy framework that assures respect for migrants’ rights, dignity and equality of treatment. An integration framework must be based on legislation guaranteeing equality and nondiscrimination, be linked to migration policy addressing labor market needs and composition and ensuring decent work opportunities for all and include institutional and practical measures to ensure its implementation.

For more information please contact Varaidzo Mudombi at IOM Zimbabwe – telephone +263242704285 email: vmudombi@iom.int