For Immediate release: 18 December 2020
Press Release: International Migrants Day.
“Upholding and Reimagining the Human Rights of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants”.
December 18th marks International Migrants Day. The United Nations (UN) International Migrants Day is annually held since 2000 to recognize the efforts, contributions, and rights of migrants worldwide. It is a day set aside by the UN to recognize the estimated 272 million migrants that are integral members of all our societies today. The UN proclamation of the International Migrants’ Day was an important step, offering a rallying point for everyone across the world who is concerned with the protection of migrants. On this day, UN member states, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are encouraged to observe this day by disseminating information on human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, sharing experiences, and undertaking action to ensure their protection.
South Africa like any other country in the world hosts both forced and economic migrants from around the continent and beyond. Whereas South Africa is progressive in having signed the UN and OAU Conventions on Refugees, these international charters have been domesticated into our own legislations and many of the most vulnerable migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are frequently denied their human rights – which recognize the inherent dignity, equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human race. The Universal Declaration states that, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Which elements build the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
The year 2020’s International Migrants Day theme is Reimagining Human Mobility #MigrantsDay. According the UN, migrants contribute their knowledge, networks, and skills to build stronger, more resilient communities. During the past months, migrants have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. Their work in health, transportation and food services made our lives under lockdown more bearable. People on the move hope for a brighter future. It is our collective responsibility to create a safer, more resilient world. CoRMSA completely agrees with these sentiments echoed by the UN in commemorating and celebrating this day during this difficult period and we all need to reimagine the human movement.
The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Migrants Day. This day provides us with an opportunity to remember migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and reiterate the need to respect their human rights and dignity. The respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of all migrants is essential to realise the benefits of international migration such as the positive contributions (economically and socially) migrants make to the development both in their countries of origin and destination. Although migration is envisaged to bring a positive and empowering experience for both migrants and the destination countries, many migrants endure human rights violations. Conversely, while the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted people’s lives, however, some sections of society have been more severely affected than others. In South Africa, before and with the current global health pandemic, vulnerable groups including asylum seekers, refugees, economic migrants, women and children are frequently denied the rights that should be afforded to them such as access to basic health care, basic education and access to documentation. They also continue to endure hardships and human rights violations which include experiences of xenophobic attacks and xenophobic rhetoric common in public discourse.
On this day, CoRMSA is calling upon all governments, international organizations, relevant authorities and civil society organisations to welcome migrants and commit to effectively promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants by ensuring that their fundamental rights as laid out in Chapter 2 of the Constitution are realized. This day, is significant more than ever as the world fights a global health pandemic which has been compounded with intolerances, injustices and human rights violations against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants characterized by a fundamental disregard for human rights
As the world continues to grapple with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic which has deteriorated vulnerabilities of millions in the region regardless of their race, gender or nationality, international migrant’s day provides an opportunity for all of us to stand united and eliminate prejudices and raise awareness of migrants’ contributions in the economic, cultural and social fields, for the benefit of both their country of origin and their country of destination.
For more information contact Thifulufheli Sinthumule at email@example.com