Experts suggest widening regular pathways for international migration during pandemic

Diplomats, practitioners and migration experts have suggested the global leaders, including the United Nations’ Secretary General, to take effective steps to open and widen the regular pathways for the international migration during this unforeseen and unpredictable time of COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a webinar, they underscored the need for strengthening bilateral and multilateral moves of the countries of origins and destinations to facilitate the labour movement and ensure grooming and recruiting the skilled workers to meet the growing demands.

They made the remarks whole speaking at the webinar on the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) "Objective 5: Enhance availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration" organized by Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) Cross-Regional Centre for Refugees and Migration (CCRM), Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism (GRFDT), and Civil Society Action Committee (CSAC) on September 29, 2020.

Moderating the webinar, William Gois, Regional Coordinator of Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), said that during this pandemic the whole world has been going through under lockdown and restrictions and few people were only moving around the world.

In this strange situation, he said that new sets of identities, travel documents for people were required and new tastes were also required for them.

William said that due to COVID-19, international migration of workers has drastically declined and the countries that would send thousands of workers but it now tickled down to less than hundreds.

He also mentioned that So many people were ready to go for jobs overseas but got stranded at homes living in uncertainty.

William stressed the need for widening regular pathways for the migrant workers in this pandemic time.

Speaking as panelist, Gervais Appave, Former Special Adviser to the Director General of International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that the GCM adopted hugely important objectives with the issues of rights, protections and development.

He described GCM Objective-5 as the keystone objective and said that “without it lots of others does not make sense, without it we can’t manage massive, complicated and chaotic mobility of people.”

“If we can truly and effectively implement objective 5, then we can aspire migration a planned and predictable migration,” he said.

Bangladesh Ambassador to Jordan Nahida Sobhan said that the objective-5 was one of the central area of GCM as it covered the whole issues of international m migration. Restricting regular pathways could raise the issues of trafficking, she warned.

She said that migration has already been hardest hit by the COVID-19 and it has been difficult for any single country to deal with it.

Ambassador Nahida Sobhan stressed on partnership and multilateral approach to address the challenge of the migration issues in this pandemic situation.

UN migration network should take immediate steps to reduce vulnerabilities of the migrants in this global crisis, she added.

Stella Opoku-Owusu, Deputy Director, African Foundation for Development recalled that migrant workers have been contributing to the destinations but there were still anti-immigrant movement seen in many developed countries.

Putting emphasis on global demographic labour situation, she said that the continent of Africa had population of 1.2 billion and about 100 million people were adding to the job market every year.

She stressed the need for forming common labour markets and promoting easy mobility of African labourers to meet the growing crisis in Europe and other parts of the world.

She cited some good examples of implementing migration policies especially in Niagara and Tunisia which were able to cut illegal migration to Europe by punishing people involved those irregular migration.

Stella said that health workers have access the pathways to the development countries during the COVID pandemics, so she focused bilateral pathways of skilled migrants.

She also said that IT professionals were being groomed in Nigeria sending them to Germany and both countries were getting mutual benefits.

Oscar A. Chacón, Co‐founder and Executive Director of Alianza Americas said that migration to the US had a positive narrative but there was a denial of contribution of the migrants there.

Trump administration came to power on the back of attacking immigrants describing that foreign workers as cancers that needed to be taken away, he said.

He also noted that over last four decades there has been propaganda to influence the American people that foreign nationals would be threat to the country.

“The fact is that 45 million people in the USA are foreign born, mostly young and they were contributing to the America enormously,” he said.

Majority foreign nationals in the USA are basically from Mexico, Latin American countries and Caribbean nations also with nationals from other countries and regions, he said.

Oscar mentioned that there were 11 million people who were residing in the US without having visas and travel documents.

Hundreds of thousands of foreign workers continue to works in the critical areas like agriculture in the USA, he said, adding that those people should be recognized for their contribution

Anna Engblom, Chief Technical Advisor, International Labour Organization (ILO) TRIANGLE , Bangkok, among others also spoke.

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