The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Ghana joins the global commemoration of the International Migrants Day 2020 on 18 December under the theme “Reimagining Human Mobility”.

A broad range of factors will affect the characteristics and scale of migration in the future.

The decisions we make in the face of today’s unparalleled challenge to global mobility, and people on the move, will affect the global social and economic landscape for years to come.

In 2020, millions of migrants got stranded, often without income or shelter, unable to return home due to COVID-19 mobility restrictions. Working together, governments are finding ways to get them home safely while addressing important public health concerns.

Amid COVID-19, IOM Ghana, through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), has collaborated with the Government of Ghana to support over 400 migrants to return home to Ghana, bringing the total number of returnees supported since the beginning of the initiative in 2017 to over 1800.

Through its various projects, IOM continues to support these returnees to reintegrate into society, a task that has become even more urgent as the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 has been severe on many of them.

Furthermore, IOM continues to raise awareness of the dangers of irregular migration and of safe migration pathways, while also educating the public about how to stay safe amid COVID-19. The socio-economic challenges the COVID-19 pandemic is posing on livelihoods threatens to exacerbate irregular migration, at a time when restrictions on movements are being eased. These factors make sustained awareness raising activities crucial.

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of well governed migration for prosperous and healthy societies, while demonstrating the negative impact of reduced human mobility on sustainable development. Our health, food, and prosperity rely on the safe, orderly, and regular movement of people.

As the UN Migration Agency, IOM, together with its sister UN agencies, continues to support the Government of Ghana in its national COVID-19 response.

In 2020, the United Nations celebrates its 75th anniversary and has invited people across the globe to share their vision of the future and help shape that future together. It is thus only fitting, that we also reflect what that means for migration. Sustainable development means progress for all, not only some. We must create equal societies that are inclusive of migrants, regardless of their status to ensure NO one is left behind.

Our joint vision of the future is one in which migration is safe, regular and orderly; it is free of stigma and discrimination and xenophobia. It is a future in which migration is a choice rather than a necessity. In this vision of the future, migrants contribute their knowledge, networks, and skills to build stronger, more resilient communities.

What is your vision? Share it with us online under the hashtag #LetsTalkMigration!

Message of Antonio Vitorino, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Last year, on International Migrants Day, we highlighted the importance of social cohesion and recognized the generosity of societies supporting migrants in their communities, unaware of what 2020 would bring.

We declared migrants to be “champions of resilience when times are tough,” unaware of how they – and we — would be put to the test.

This year we have all witnessed — first-hand — the critical role migrants have played in our societies, on the front lines of our fight against COVID-19, caring for the sick, working to maintain essential services.

The dedication and entrepreneurial spirit we have seen this year reminds us that, as we move from pandemic response to recovery over the coming months, migrants will be an integral part of that return to normal life.

But, for this to happen, we must reinforce the efforts already made by many countries to ensure migrants are fully included in our COVID-19 responses, including access to social services, and ensuring they do not get left behind.

Many migrants have found themselves reduced to poverty, the first to be let go and the last to be rehired.

Economically disadvantaged, many have become stranded, unable to return home, while still more have been forced to return without due regard for their safety. At the extremes, migrants may be prey to the criminals who would exploit their vulnerability for profit.

Human rights are not ‘earned’ by virtue of being a hero or a victim, but are an entitlement of everyone, regardless of origin, age, gender and status. But support and protection are needed if migrants are to contribute fully to their, and our, recovery.

As vaccines become available, migrants regardless of their status must be ensured equitable access to national programming, not as a special class of people, but as friends, neighbours and co-workers.

The global response to COVID-19 presents a unique opportunity to reimagine human mobility from the ground up, to implement the vision of the Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration, and build prosperous, healthy and resilient communities.

We, together, can make it happen.