International Migrants Day: Recognizing the Rights of All Migrants
International Migrants Day: Recognizing the Rights of All Migrants Ayah ElGaddal (2022-2023 College Ambassador from the University of Iowa)
Every year on the 18th of December marks International Migrants Day. On this day, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the International Conventionon the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which set the standard for the treatment and promotion of migrant workers' rights in each country. As of 2022, though, the convention only applies to 58 countries that are parties to the treaty. Another 40 countries have signed but not ratified the treaty.
In the recent years, climate change, poverty, and instability have contributed heavily to the forced migration of millions of people within and across the globe. Not all of the people crossing borders survive. Since 2014, the Missing Migrants Project has recorded the deaths of about 51,000 migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers who died in the process of migrating toward an international destination. Still, many more deaths go unrecorded. Even when they arrive in their host countries, migrants continue to be victims of exploitation and abuse – making them one of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in our societies. They lack access to basic essential services, including access to healthcare or education for themselves or their children. According to the Migrant Clinicians Network, migrant workers have difficulty meeting their healthcare needs because of their ‘deportation’ or ‘isolation’ fears. As a result, many of their serious medical conditions go undiagnosed. Further, as migrant workers continue to fill low-skilled jobs – which are often temporary or informal, this exposes them to a greater risk of injury, poor working conditions, and insecurity.
Despite the vast challenges they encounter, migrant workers continue to be a source of positive growth for their country of origin and country of destination. As those workers establish themselves in their host country, they provide financial lifeline support to their family members back home through remittances. Those remittances stimulate local market growth of low and middle-income countries, contributing to at least 4% of their GDP. Further, during the pandemic, many of the migrant workers served as frontline workers - demonstrating their vital contribution to the labor market. In a sense, migrant workers maintain growth in economies by performing jobs that would be outsourced without their presence.
Regardless of where they come from, migrants breed seeds of passion, creativity, culture, and hope wherever they go. This population of people enriches their new homelands with diverse intellectual and societal skills, further contributing to the growth of their communities. So, today, we celebrate International Migrants Day by asking everyone to stand up and recognize the rights of the migrants because every migrant deserves the same dignity and humanity as any other individual, regardless of their status.