The contribution and challenges of migrants
18 December, 2015
Today, the world recognises International Migrants Day, celebrating the diversity, culture and economic gains that migrants bring to countries as they pursue better lives for themselves and their families. It also marks an opportunity to reflect on the challenges that migration can bring to a country, and to renew efforts to meet those challenges as we move towards 2016.
The growing influx of refugees and migrants to the European Union (EU) from Africa and the Middle East as well as the Western Balkans has brought migration policy and practice to the forefront of public and political attention. Thousands have died or lost their loved ones through the smuggling routes across the sea, or in tightly packed trucks that go by land. Pictures of Aylan Kurdi, a young boy who drowned off the coast of Turkey, brought home the very human cost that lies behind policy and statistics.
As millions more come, European countries and their partners are faced with huge challenges, both in the direct helping of people to get to safety as well as organising rapid and effective resettlement and integration both within Europe, and to countries such as Malaysia, Canada and the US.
Supporting these efforts, we recently ran the migration challenge: tackling route causes to examine issues of development, human rights, and stability within migration policy with a particular focus on upstream measures.
We also partnered with the Canadian High Commission in London on the event the challenge of integration: what does it mean to be a citizen? discussing best practice around settlement, citizenship and multiculturalism. Integration has been a core part of our work since our inception after the second world war when we helped prepare German officers for moving back to post-war Germany.
Now nearly seventy years on, with poverty, war, economic turmoil and other drivers still present in many countries, migration and the issues within it continue to pose great opportunities and stark challenges for policymakers.
International Migrants Day reminds us all of the importance of finding ethical and effective solutions to those drivers. It marks a point to reflect on the human stories behind migration; celebrating the courage of those who undertake such journeys and remembering those who do not make it.