International Migrants Day: Theme, Quotes, History and Significance

international migrants day

18 December is observed worldwide as International Migrants Day. Humans have been on the move since the time immemorial. Different push and pull factors have been responsible for these migrations from one place to another. Some people move in search of better educational or employment opportunities, while some others move to escape any crisis, natural disaster, war, or conflict.

As per the data released in 2019 by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations, there are over 272 million migrants across the world.

International Migrants Day highlight the role and contributions of these migrants in building newer communities across the globe. It also promotes awareness about the issues and challenges faced by the migrants.

History of the International Migrants Day

On 4 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution (A/RES/55/93) proclaiming 18 December as the International Migrants Day. The resolution takes into account the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights which proclaims that all humans are born free and each one of us is entitled to all rights and freedom set forth therein without any distinction based on race, color, or national origin.

Objective

The objective of the International Migrants Day is to protect and promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants.

International Migrants Day Theme 2020

Each year, International Migrants Day is observed around a theme. The focus of the world this year is drawn towards the stories of social cohesion. The observance aims to promote recognition of migration as a benefit that works for all.

international migrants day

Definition & Meaning:  Who are migrants?

The term “migrant” has not been legally defined anywhere. Internationally, it is referred to as a neutral term for those individuals who do not possess citizenship attachment to their host country as they shift from one country to another.

As per the United Nations (OHCHR), an International migrant is any person who is outside a State of which they are a citizen or national, or, in the case of a stateless person, their State of birth or habitual residence.

What is migration?

Migration is defined as the process of people traveling temporarily or permanently to a new place or country. It is usually triggered by some common reasons that can be categorized into push and pull factors.

Push factors

Adverse circumstances prevailing in home countries of migrants like war, conflicts, terrorism, or disaster.

Pull Factors

Availability of attractive opportunities in destination countries like better education, lucrative job prospects, etc.

Why are migrants & refugees different?

The words “migrant” and “refugee” are often mistaken as synonyms of each other. However, these terms stand for two different contexts in respect of migration. Let’s understand and explore the difference between the two.

Difference between migrant and refugee
Basis of Difference Migrant Refugee
Definition No universal definition Defined as a person who is fleeing persecution or conflict in her or his country of origin.
Motive/Purpose For prospects of a better and improved life. Safety may or may not be the primary concern. Mainly to seek safety in nearby countries and access fundamental assistance/aid for survival.
Protection under Law Varies according to the immigration laws of the host country. Protected under International Law. Particularly, the 1951 Refugee Convention-UNHCR.

Difference between Migrants & Immigrants

Now, when you have already understood the difference between migrant and refugee, let’s try and explore the difference between migrant and immigrant.

Difference between Migrants and Immigrants
Basis of Difference Migrant Immigrant
Movement Temporary or permanent Always permanent
Cross border movement It may or may not be a cross-border movement. A migrant also moves within his/her country. An international cross-border movement where the person becomes a permanent resident of the destination/host country.

International Migrants Day: Quotes on Migration, Refugee

“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women, and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.” – Pope Francis

“Migration is an expression of the human aspiration for dignity, safety and a better future. It is part of the social fabric, part of our very make-up as a human family.” – Ban Ki-moon

“We can’t deter people fleeing for their lives. They will come. The choice we have is how well we manage their arrival, and how humanely.” – Antonio Guterres

“A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in.. And how many want out.” – Tony Blair

“History in its broadest aspect is a record of man’s migrations from one environment to another.” – Ellsworth Huntington

“We cannot and should not stop people from migration. We have to give them a better life at home. Migration is a process, not a problem.” – William L. Swing

“I think massive migration is inevitable. As sea levels rise, as climate change happens, as fertile fields become arid, as wars are fought, people are going to move. They always have.” – Mohsin Hamid

“Refugees didn’t just escape a place. They had to escape a thousand memories until they’d put enough time and distance between them and their misery to wake to a better day.” – Nadia Hashimi

“No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.” – Warsan Shire

“A lasting solution, the possibility to begin a new life, is the only dignified solution for the refugee himself.” – Poul Hartling

“I think massive migration is inevitable. As sea levels rise, as climate change happens, as fertile fields become arid, as wars are fought, people are going to move. They always have.” – Mohsin Hamid

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