18 December «International Migrants Day»

18 December «International Migrants Day»

 

On 4 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 18 December as «International Migrants Day» through resolution 55/93[1], reaffirming its commitment to the protection of the human rights of migrants.

International migration is a far-reaching and highly complex phenomenon that reaches most countries in the world. The International Organization for Migration indicates that there are currently some 272 million international migrants in the world, representing 3.5% of the world’s population[2]. Human mobility is not a new phenomenon in the history of humanity, human beings have always migrated; moving from one place to another, for multiple reasons.

Our continent was constituted on the basis of a series of population exchanges that consolidated the diverse cultural framework that characterizes it, and today we can say that the phenomenon of human mobility is not unrelated to any of the countries in the region, as the vast majority are states of expulsion or return, transit or reception of migrants and refugees, which indicates that only joint and coordinated action is possible to guarantee the rights of the millions of people who are in a situation of human  mobility.

Children and adolescents who migrate with their families also participate in these displacements and often undertake the migration journey without any accompaniment. It is essential to address the structural causes that provoke the migration of children and adolescents. The lack of opportunities in the communities of origin is one of the main motivations for children and adolescents and their families to leave their homes. Violence, poverty and armed conflict expel millions of children from their countries of origin.

The situation of double vulnerability in which migrant and refugee children and adolescents find themselves has been deepened in the context of the pandemic caused by the COVID-19.

The loss of jobs or the difficulty of accessing one by their relatives has resulted in loss of income in the households, which leaves children and adolescents exposed to labour exploitation.

The closure of schools had an impact on all children and adolescents. However, distance education has exacerbated existing inequalities, as children from poorer families, such as migrants and refugees, do not always have access to the necessary digital technologies.

Furthermore, the measures of mobility restriction and border closure implemented by the States to contain the spread of the virus have often stopped the journey of accompanied and unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents. Many of them have been stranded in areas close to borders, where they have been exposed to xenophobic demonstrations by transit communities, being accused of carrying the disease and facilitating its spread, and in other cases their right to family reunification has been violated.

In this regard, it is valid to recall the call of the IIN’s Directing Council[3] to strengthen their systems to protect the rights of migrant children and adolescents and to develop joint actions that allow for coordinated work between countries of origin, transit and destination.

Migrant children and adolescents also travel with their rights; these do not disappear when they cross a border. On this International Migrants Day, and especially in times of special difficulty, it is essential to ratify the commitment to their protection.

 

[1] https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N00/565/00/PDF/N0056500.pdf?OpenElement

[2] https://publications.iom.int/books/informe-sobre-las-migraciones-en-el-mundo-2020

[3] http://www.iin.oea.org/pdf-iin/Resoluciones/EN/RES7-Unaccompanied-migrant-children.pdf