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Asia-Pacific region at UN forum calls for better protection of migrants

Asia-Pacific region at UN forum calls for better protection of migrants

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A United Nations meeting of Asia-Pacific countries today called for better legal protection of migrants, especially the millions who are undocumented migrants and often victims of human trafficking.

Migrant workers are development actors and contribute to development by way of remittances, skills, culture and labour to States of origin, transit and destination, said a statement issued at the end of a three-day meeting in Bangkok of representatives from 31 governments in the region.

The Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Global Forum on Migration and Development 2010 was organized by the UN Asia-Pacific Regional Thematic Working Group on International Migration including Human Trafficking, which is co-chaired by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with participation from other UN agencies and UN-affiliated organizations.

About one in four of the world’s estimated 214 million migrants live in the Asia-Pacific region, which receives about 42 per cent of global remittances. ESCAP noted that international migration is increasingly being recognized as a powerful force for development as migrants contribute to the social, cultural and economic development of both countries of origin and destination.

The meeting recommended that national laws be reviewed to ensure that all migrants, including domestic workers, women and children have access to legal protection, birth registration, and health and education services in both countries of origin and destination.

“As we continue our work at the national, regional and international levels, let us not forget that migrants are human beings, not mere export commodities, sources of remittances or agents of development,” Working Group Co-Chairs Nanda Krairiksh and Andrew Bruce said in a joint closing statement.

“Besides their important role in a country’s economy, it is imperative that migrants and their families receive the support and attention they require given their vulnerable status, in both countries of origin and destination.”

Delivering a keynote statement, Ton-Nu-Thi Ninh, Former Vice-Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Viet Nam’s National Assembly, stressed that the most vulnerable groups are irregular and undocumented migrants, who account for one quarter of migrant workers in or from Asia and are often victims of human trafficking.

The meeting’s Bangkok Statement will be presented as Asia-Pacific’s contribution to the Global Forum on Migration and Development to be held in November in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.