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Global agreement on migration 'taking root' despite pandemic challenge: Guterres 

Rohingya refugees flee to Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. (file)
UNOCHA/David Dare Parker
Rohingya refugees flee to Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. (file)

Global agreement on migration 'taking root' despite pandemic challenge: Guterres 

Migrants and Refugees

The Global Compact for Migration, adopted by countries in 2018 as a comprehensive framework for cooperation on international migration, is “taking root in promising ways”, the UN Secretary General said on Tuesday. 

“The Compact reflects a growing global understanding of the great benefits of human mobility. But it also recognizes that, if poorly managed, migration can generate huge challenges, from a tragic loss of life to rights abuses and social tensions”, said Secretary-General António Guterres, launching his biennial report on the Compact’s implementation.  

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While the coronavirus pandemic heightened challenges and negatively affected more than 2.7 million migrants, particularly women and girls, new practices have emerged to protect those on the move, added Mr. Guterres, in a video message to accompany the launch. 

The Secretary-General outlined initiatives by countries such as extending residence and work permits, regularizing the status of undocumented migrants, and pursuing alternatives to detention. 

“And while some States have suspended returns owing to unsafe conditions, others have made efforts to ensure that those returning or who have been deported are supported”, he said. 

Strengthen societies ‘against the virus of hate’ 

Noting that “much more can and should be done”, the UN chief called for such initiatives to be expanded. 

Mr. Guterres outlined three key recommendations, the first of which is to embrace the spirit of collaboration “no country can address migration alone.” 

He also said that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value of migrant labour, urging countries to “meaningfully” recognize their contributions, through action such as ensuring fair and ethical recruitment; decent work, and access to health care and social protection, without discrimination. 

Alongside, social inclusion and cohesion should be strengthened between host communities and migrants, and discrimination issues addressed, added the UN chief. 

“Migrants should not be stigmatized or denied access to medical treatment and other public services. We must strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate”, he urged. 

Diversity an asset 

Highlighting that human diversity is an asset, not a threat, the Secretary-General urged everyone to appreciate the “richness of our differences” while never losing sight of our common humanity and dignity. 

“We can draw on the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration to cover better from COVID-19, with greater inclusion and sustainability … and if we are united, we can make migration work for all.”