The world will come together on December 18 to celebrate International Migrants Day. This day has increasingly become of more prominence due to years of global conflict that has led to uncertain migration patterns following housing insecurity. Mainly, wars and climate change have resulted in millions of people migrating to other places in order to find a better life for themselves and their families. In 2020, there were over 281 million people who were international migrants, and there were over 59 people internally displaced as well (United Nations, 2022).
The UN Migration Agency defines a migrant as anyone who is moving or has moved across an international border or has moved within a State away from their usual place of residence. This definition applies no matter the person’s legal status, if the movement was voluntary or involuntary, the cause of the movement or the length of the stay.
There are a number of reasons that drive people to migrate either internally or across borders. No matter the reasoning, people who migrate often face many hardships during their travels and stays and are often some of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in society. This is because these populations are likely to face abuse, violence and exploitation. This also leads them to have limited healthcare and face stigma and xenophobic attacks based on misinformation that is often spread by people in power. Due to the power dynamics that come with being a migrant, many migrant workers find themselves in temporary, informal and unprotected jobs. This leads to their exposure to more risky jobs with high insecurity, layoffs and dangerous living conditions (United Nations, 2022).
People who want to migrate to find a better life often find it difficult to travel to a safer country. As such, many migrants choose to take perilous routes, as these pathways are their final chance at getting a better life. Since 2014, more than 50,000 have lost their lives in their search for a better life, dying on their migratory routes (United Nations, 2022).
However, in the face of all these challenges, migrants all over the world have been able to continuously provide innovation and sustainable development to both their countries of origin and their host countries. The financial contribution of migrants plays a big role in the markets of the Global South, and their labor has been proven indispensable, especially during the pandemic when workforce supply was low. Their knowledge and perseverance has led to the development of resilient communities that have bred the brightest of minds (United Nations, 2022).
Governments all over the world must tackle the challenges that migrants face in order to ensure their safe travels and prosperity in their host countries. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) has led the world in issuing guidance about actualizing human mobility. On International Migrants Day, and every other day, the world must reiterate its commitment to safe migration in order to ensure the prosperity of migrants seeking a better life (United Nations, 2022).
UN Migration Agency. (2022). Migrant Definition. International Organization for Migration. https://www.iom.int//
United Nations. (2022). International Migrants Day. United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/observances/migrants-day