International Migrants Day: Principles rather than prejudice

Message by Dr Kerim

In coping with the migrant crisis we should be guided by principles rather than prejudice. 

It is well known that history is full of accidents. At the same time there are events, phenomena and developments which are certainly not accidental. MIGRATION is one such case.

Migration has always signified a legitimate quest for a better life. No matter which part of the world is concerned. In fact, the history of mankind is a constant process of migration.

Sharing the fundamental values of democratic societies such as the rule of law, religious tolerance, parliamentary democracy, gender equality and human rights must be the guiding principles of the 21st century. Integration, not isolation is the remedy and the formula for a society based on the freedom of the individual.

The current migrant crisis represents a challenge per se. States in Europe for example, were not prepared to cope with the increased influx of migrants, which has reached a number of 1.7 million over the period between 2011 and 2015. Crisis management protocols were not adequately applied. Borderlines with barbed wires are not the solution.

Instead, close cooperation and coordination between the United Nations,  the International Organization for Migration and the respective governments, along with other inter-governmental and non-governmental partners, should be the answer to resolving this complicated situation. Giving full respect to both the dignity and integrity of the people in need, and the laws or regulations of the host nations concerned.

Additionally, some migrants are victims of climate change, which is anything but abstract. There are people suffering the effects of displacement thanks to increased floods, droughts and re-emerging diseases. These vulnerable people find themselves having to leave their villages, cities or countries because of extreme conditions. The existence of climate refugees is not just a concept, but a sad fact. It is clear therefore that the solutions to mass movements of people must be global and that we need to forge an integrated global alliance for action.

The role of the United Nations in protecting the basic human rights of migrants is one of fundamental value. The United Nations serves as a unified platform of solidarity and a driver for progressive action especially through its agencies such as the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The UN urges and calls upon political leaders and all peoples, that as we continue through the process of stabilizing the migrant influx, we must ensure protection, respect and dignity for all asylum seekers bearing in mind their unalienable rights.

The equal value of each human life must be the paradigm when addressing or attempting to resolve the migration crisis. Brutal torture and cruel harassment of migrants seeking asylum are against any moral values. We cannot propagate peace and security while unwilling to accept those in need, attempting to save their lives and escape death. It is contradictory to be proclaiming democracy while creating hurdles for those who seek a better future and stability. 
The protection of the basic human rights and needs of migrants, providing shelter and proper accommodation are all important values that create and strengthen human solidarity.

Let us honor and respect these values.

18 December 2015

UN Photo/Logan Abassi