UN chief says international community should oppose negative rhetoric on migrants

08:23, May 20, 2011      

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon said here on Thursday that countries should stress the many benefits of migration, rather than the negatives that some politicians choose to focus on in order to distract constituents from other issues.

"Often the debate over migration devolves to loss: migrants overstretch social safety nets, some say," Ban told an informal thematic debate on International Migration and Development. " Others worry that they will overwhelm education systems and take away jobs. But statistics show that the economic contribution of migrant workers far outweighs any costs."

Ban pointed out that many migrants still face dangers like human trafficking and the sex trade, which impacts women and children especially. He called the victims of these crimes "among the most vulnerable people on earth".

The secretary-general explained that the global economic crisis and its effects have caused some political figures to place undeserved blame on migrants.

"Increasingly, we see extremist politicians targeting migrants and migration to deflect attention from national problems," he said. "This creates more discrimination, more fear and more problems."

He called on the international community to "fight these trends with reason and common sense".

Ban stressed that there is a strong connection between remittances and international development.

"Nearly two-thirds of the world's 214 million migrants live in wealthy countries," he said. "The remittances they send home total more than 300 billion U.S. dollars a year. That figure dwarfs international aid flows. In the developing world, remittances make it possible for families to get health care, send their children to school, and start up small businesses."

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), he said, serves as a good venue for discussing the connections between the movement of peoples and the socioeconomic development of countries.

"To maximize the benefits and address social concerns, we need cooperation," noted Ban. "That is why the Global Forum is so important."

He said that the forum could use greater and more regular funding, which his special representative for migration Peter Sutherland has formulated a plan to guarantee.

The upcoming 2013 UN High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, Ban added, should help boost international cooperation as well.

Source: Xinhua
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