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Over 100 Nations Urge Safe Migration   05/21 08:56


   UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- More than 100 nations have approved a declaration 
calling on governments to intensify efforts for safe and orderly migration, 
crack down on human smuggling and trafficking, and ensure that migrants are 
respected and receive health care and other services.

   The 13-page declaration was adopted by consensus by U.N. member nations 
attending a four-day meeting to review the first international agreement 
dealing with migration. The Global Compact was approved by the U.N. General 
Assembly in December 2018, and participants at this week's meeting recommended 
that the 193-member world body also endorse Friday's declaration in the coming 

   Assembly President Abdulla Shahid said many migrants leave their countries 
to find work while others are forced to leave due to violence, poverty, 
environmental degradation and climate change.

   "Regardless of their circumstances, the international community has a 
responsibility to ensure that the human rights of everyone involved are 
respected," he told a news conference earlier Friday.

   The declaration expresses concern "that progress achieved in facilitating 
and harnessing the benefits of safe, orderly and regular migration is slow and 
uneven in many areas" and stresses that "greater efforts are needed by member 
states to develop ambitious national responses for the implementation of the 
Global Compact."

   Antonio Vitorino, director-general of the International Organization for 
Migration, told a news conference before the adoption that there are several 
areas where "an extra push" is needed to make the vision of the Global Compact 
a reality: "respect for human rights, access to basic services, alternatives to 
the detention of migrants and, above all, I would emphasize, saving lives of 

   The declaration said as many as 281 million people were international 
migrants in 2020 globally, of whom 48% were women and girls and 15% were under 
the age of 20. It recognized "the value and dignity of the labor of all migrant 
workers in all sectors," and said they transferred over $751 billion in 
remittances, which are "a critical source of support for families and 
communities," to their home countries.

   The 34-page compact addresses all aspects of migration -- why people leave 
their home countries, how to protect them, integrate them and co-operate in 
returning them home safely. Its principles include recognizing the sovereignty 
of nations and reaffirming that migrants have the same human rights as all 
other people that "must be respected, protected and fulfilled at all times."

   The compact has 23 objectives "for safe, orderly and regular migration" that 
seek to boost cooperation in managing legal migration and discourage illegal 
border crossings.

   These range from technical issues like collecting data, ensuring migrants 
have proof of their legal identity, and promoting faster and safer transfer 
home of earnings by migrant workers, to such matters as preventing and 
eradicating trafficking, providing access to basic services for migrants, and 
using migration detention "only as a measure of last resort."

   Vitorino said 15,000 migrants have died "in dangerous and perilous migratory 
tragedies" since the Global Compact was adopted.

   "We believe that there's a need to scale up certain rescue operations 
particularly to those migrants who go through the sea, through the desert, and 
through the jungle," he said.

   "We have a number of hot spots and know where the problems are," Vitorino 
said, pointing to the Gulf of Aden, the central Mediterranean and the Darin 
Gap jungle, the inhospitable stretch of land that separates Colombia and Panama.

   "We need to be more effective in opening regular pathways for migrations," 
he said. "That's the real alternative to letting migrants be prone to 
traffickers and smugglers because trafficking and smuggling is the most 
obnoxious attempt against the fundamental rights of migrants."

   The U.N.'s top migration official said all migrants move in vulnerable 
conditions but some are more vulnerable than others including women and girls 
who have been "particularly prone to abusers, gender-based violence, rapes."

   The declaration said migrants continue to struggle to get humanitarian 
assistance, including search and rescue efforts at sea and medical care, "which 
creates and exacerbates situations of vulnerability."

   "Limited progress has been made in distinguishing the activities of 
smuggling networks from the provision of assistance of an exclusively 
humanitarian nature for migrants along perilous routes and in other situations 
where their life or safety is in danger," it said. "In many cases, the 
provision of such assistance has been considered unlawful."

   In the declaration, governments said they commit to eliminating all forms of 
discrimination targeting migrants including racism, xenophobia, stigmatization 
hate speech and hate crimes. They also commit to protecting freedom of 
expression and "to respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights and 
fundamental freedoms of all migrants."

   Vitorino said the declaration provides guidelines for action "and we are 
ready to work over the next four years to make, each day, a difference, making 
outcomes better, thinking above all of the millions of lives of migrants that 
depend on international protection and international cooperation."

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