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Statement of the Executive Director On the Occasion of International Migrants Day, 18 December 2018
Throughout history, people have migrated from one place to another. People migrate in search of a better life. They leave their homes due to many reasons, including poverty, social and political oppression, natural and man-made disasters, conflict, in search of a higher education, and professional opportunities.
Most migrants make cities their first port of entry, thereby contributing significantly to the rate and dynamics of urbanization. Migration, if managed well, can contribute to the overall strength and sustainability of a country’s economic, social and political fabric. At UN-Habitat, we emphasise that there must be an organised and well-functioning integration process between host and migrating communities. For this to happen, national authorities must recognise the role, opportunities and potential challenges for cities of migration. Ensuring that the effects of migration are adequately reflected and included when developing urban policies and planning frameworks at all levels is a starting point.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was recently adopted by 164 Member States during the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, held in Marrakesh, the Kingdom of Morocco. UN-Habitat fully endorses and supports the Global Compact, which is the first agreement negotiated inter-governmentally, under the auspices of the United Nations, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. It will be complemented by a Global Compact for Refugees, which was endorsed yesterday by the General Assembly.
The work of UN-Habitat on sustainable urban development directly contributes to Objective Two of the Global Compact, to “…minimise the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin”, focusing on local implementation and supporting cities to better manage migration and harness its opportunities. In line with the New Urban Agenda, which fully recognises the importance of addressing national and international migrations in cities, UN-Habitat’s draft Strategic Plan 2020-2025 will more effectively address issues of migration in urban policies and plans to ensure better social cohesion, adequate living standards in ports of arrival while also reducing migration push factors.
On this International Migrants Day, UN-Habitat reiterates its commitment to supporting States and cities in the implementation of the objectives formulated in both Global Compacts. We express our continued support to assist international and national actors in developing and implementing national policies that are inclusive of all migrants. We also commit to continue to work with local governments and partners on ensuring inclusive, participatory processes and social cohesion through local implementation.
As part of the international community, UN-Habitat aims to create “a better quality of life for all in an urbanizing world.”