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UN Secretary General Calls on Member States to Take a People-centered Approach to Migration Crisis

UN Secretary General Calls on Member States to Take a People-centered Approach to Migration Crisis

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 2,200 migrants died while trying to cross the Mediterranean during the first seven months of 2017. In the United States, more people are dying while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, even though fewer people are making the attempt. According to the IOM, the reported number of fatalities are probably underestimated because most deaths occur while people are crossing a vast, remote desert or a large, swift body of water.

In response to the continuing crisis facing potential migrants fleeing war or poverty, Secretary General António Guterres called on member states who gathered in New York for the General Assembly last month to find “a humane, compassionate, people-centered approach [to migration] that recognizes every individual’s right to safety, protection and opportunity.” Guterres spoke to a General Assembly that consisted of many new leaders, some of whom had run on anti-immigrant platforms to get elected.

But in the same building just one year earlier, these same member states unanimously adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, an international statement which outlined a path toward two global compacts scheduled to be adopted in 2018.

The first, the Global Compact on Refugees, aims to help the international community to find more equitable ways to share the responsibility for refugees.

The second, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, aims to enhance international cooperation in governing migration, protect migrants from smugglers and other criminal networks, and address the causes of irregular migration.

According to the Secretary General, the members of the UN are at the halfway point towards agreeing on these compacts. Over the next year, Guterres believes that UN members need to re-establish the integrity of the refuge protection regime, develop national and international mechanisms that take human mobility into account, hold human traffickers and smugglers accountable, create more opportunities for legal migration, and incorporate the advances in artificial intelligence and the skill shortages associated with this technology into international cooperation mechanisms.

But it won’t be easy. Media reports have suggested that a global backlash against international migration is making it harder for national governments to adequately address this issue. Although the clear majority of the 244 million international migrants travel legally, the consequences of irregular or unauthorized migration have captured headlines all over the world. In 2014, journalists from the Guardian, Le Monde, El País, Süddeutsche Zeitung and La Stampa debunked common myths about migration, but these myths continue to influence migration policy well into 2017.




Tara Ornstein

Tara Ornstein is a global health professional based in Washington D.C. Tara has researched the intersection between international migration and global health extensively. She has a Master of Public Health from New York University (NYU), where she conducted a situational analysis of TB services for labor migrants in the United States and Russia as part of her graduate studies. While at NYU, she also studied international migration during an intensive onsite course at the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla in Mexico. Tara’s work has been featured in several peer-reviewed scientific journals including Public Health Action, AIDS, and Plos One among others.