According to the UN, the number of migrants increased from approximately 175 million in 2000 to over 245 million in 2015. Approximately 70% of the migrants live in Europe and Asia. Migration is now a common thing and widely distributed across the world. 10% of the migrants are below the age of 15 years. The remittance has also increased significantly, hitting the US$435 mark in 2014. The UN foresees an upward trend in the number of international migrants. The importance, contribution, efforts, and rights of the millions of international migrants cannot be ignored. To recognize and appreciate the role of the migrants, the United Nations started the International Migrants Day.
Background of International Migrants Day
Migrants can be found in every part of the world today. Migration has been accelerated the growing development and the growing disparities between different regions of the world. Migration is also accelerated by the political, social, and economic forces. In view of the growing migration, the UN’s General Assembly on December 4, 2000, declared December 18 as International Migrants Day. A decade earlier, on December 18, 1990, the General Assembly adopted the “International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.” An earlier celebration of the migrants can also be traced back to 1997 when certain Asian Organizations marked December 18th as a day to recognize the migrants. International Migrants Day is not a public holiday but a global observance day when the rest of the world shows solidarity and support to the migrants.
Celebrating International Migrants Day
Every year, the UN encourages the governments, individuals, and organizations to observe Migrants Day. The organizations are encouraged to share information on the rights and the fundamental freedom of the migrants. Migrants are also encouraged to share their experience and take part in the designing of an action plan for their protection. The common message throughout the day is “making migrants voices heard.”
Various activities are also organized by different organizations and communities to celebrate this day. The activities are aimed at alerting the public with the facts about the migrants, lives of the migrant workers, the status of the refugees, problems of human trafficking, and combating racism. Lobby groups also use the Migrants Day to pressure governments to look at issues concerning the migrants’ rights. Customized films and documentaries on the lives of migrants are also shown across towns and cities.
Organizations Promoting International Migrants Day
Apart from the United Nations, several other organizations are also involved in the promoting of World Migrant Day. Some of these organizations include December 18, an NGO that works closely with the UN in promoting the rights of migrants, Radio 1812, an umbrella body that brings together radio stations to observe the day, Amnesty International, the International Organization for Migration, and the National Network for Immigrants and Refugee Rights.
Symbol of Internationl Migrant Day
There is no specific symbol for the International Day of Migrants. However, the UN symbol may be imposed on material promoting the day. The symbol of the UN depicts the globe centered on the North Pole and surrounded by an olive branch, a symbol of peace.