Johannesburg – The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) celebrates the contributions and achievements of migrants in South Africa on this International Migrants Day. The International Migrants Day is celebrated on December 18 every year. Migrants have made great contributions to South Africa’s development in various ways. This year’s celebrations have a special importance as they take place just after the United Nations High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (UN-HLD) where many member states have committed to the protection of migrants. We particularly express our appreciation to the South African government that indicated a commitment to ‘doing all that is necessary to ensure the protection of migrants and to promoting respect for human rights for all’.
This Day is symbolic as it was on 18 December 1990 that the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families was adopted before it ultimately entered into force on 01 July 2003. With a particular emphasis on the link between migration and human rights, this Convention opens a new chapter in the history of determining the rights of migrant workers and ensuring that those rights are protected and respected. The Convention set an important step for everyone concerned with the protection of migrants. We therefore call upon South Africa to ratify this important convention to ensure that migrants’ rights are indeed protected.
As CoRMSA, we are of the view that migration has the potential to contribute to the development of both the country of origin and the country of destination if it is well managed. Migration has been part of South Africa’s history even before the establishment of democracy. South Africa received significant numbers of migrant workers who were absorbed by the mining sector and their contribution to the South African economy is remarkable.
After 1994, South Africa continued to receive migrants and their contribution to the national economy has been outstanding. Migrants not only contribute to the economic growth, but also enrich societies through cultural diversity and other critical skills. If well managed, migration has even greater potential to benefit South Africa as a country. However, in the midst of serious
human rights violations, xenophobia, exploitation and other discriminatory practices, the benefits that migrants bring into their host societies are often overlooked or overshadowed by these ills.
As we celebrate this Day in recognition of migrants’ contribution to the development, social and economic growth of many countries around the world, we would like to urge all stakeholders including communities to incessantly raise awareness of migrants’ human rights and challenge any form of abuse on migrants and members of their families.
We further call upon the South African government to uphold Constitutional values, sustain human rights principles and ascertain minimum standards applicable to migrants irrespective of their migratory status.