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As we observe International Migrants Day on December 18, we reflect upon the challenges and difficulties faced by over 272 million migrants courageously building new lives in every corner of the world. The reality of migration is more than just starting over. Migrants travel in search of security and opportunities that will allow them to reinvent themselves. Others are escaping from discrimination and prejudice. Host societies need to evolve and welcome these communities for a better tomorrow.
History of International Migrants Day
Migration has many factors enforcing it on a global level. These stem from human necessities for safety, dignity, and peace. It is never an easy decision to leave home, especially when the journey ahead is extremely dangerous and, at times, fatal.
Although the day was made official in the year 2000, the observance of this day goes as far back as the year 1997 when December 18 was marked as the day to campaign for the respect, rights, and protection of migrants by several Asian migrant organizations.
On account of the ever-increasing number of migrants around the world, on December 4, 2000, the United Nations General Assembly declared December 18 as the day for International Migrants. A decade prior to this, on the same day, the Assembly initiated the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
During the first-ever summit focused on large-scale movements of migrants and refugees on September 19, 2016, a fixed set of commitments — known as the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants — was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to enhance the safety of such displaced persons. This declaration reiterates the essentiality of the international protection regime and pledges by member states to improve the migration system for people on the move.
The U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development also features migration-related goals. These include access to education, which will lead to better opportunities and a better quality of life.
International Migrants Day timeline
The U.S. adopts a new immigration policy, which reunites immigrant families and gives preference to skilled workers.
A network of Asian migrant organizations begins celebrating December 18 as the International Day of Solidarity with Migrants.
Following the beginning of the Syrian conflict, the first camp for refugees is set up in Jordan.
Families continue to flee violence and destruction in north-west Syria.
International Migrants Day FAQs
What is an international migrant?
Properly defined by the UN, the definition of an international long-term migrant is: “A person who moves to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least a year (12 months), so that the country of destination effectively becomes his or her new country of usual residence.”
What is international voluntary migration?
Voluntary migration is when an individual chooses to relocate for an opportunity, as opposed to forced migration — when an individual chooses to relocate out of fear for their safety.
What are the types of migration?
Human migration consists of the following types: internal migration, external migration, emigration, immigration, return migration, and seasonal migration.
How To Observe International Migrants Day
Learn more about migrants
In today’s modern times, migrants and refugees still face a lot of difficulties settling into new places. Educate yourself on the problems they face and learn more about what the United Nations and other influential bodies are doing about it.
Read a story
Heartbreaking, humbling, and happy stories of immigrants are truly an eye-opener.
Make a donation
Humanitarian organizations are always accepting donations for the ongoing refugee crisis around the world. Every small contribution can reap great benefits for those it will go towards.
5 Facts About Refugees
1% of the human race is displaced
With conflicts becoming more complex, global displacement is at an all-time high.
68% of all refugees come from only five countries
Syria has the largest refugee count in the world, followed by Venezuela, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Myanmar.
Drop-in arrivals to Europe
The number of refugees making their way to Europe has significantly decreased.
Approximately 95% of resettlement needs are unfulfilled
Resettlement requirements are not being met by host states, raising great urgency.
40% of refugees are children
An estimated 34 million children and young people have been displaced from their homes around the world.
Why International Migrants Day is Important
No one is left behind
Every human life is precious, and their dignity and rights must be safeguarded at all costs. Humanitarian efforts to ensure no migrant is left behind are crucial.
Doing our part
The migration crisis can hit any region at any time in the future. Everyone must play their part on an individual level to ensure the right mechanisms are in place to welcome migrants and refugees.
For humanity’s sake
Showing some humanity shouldn’t be limited to a designated day. Such annual observances really focus and highlight issues and challenges on a larger level through awareness generated by mainstream media and organizations.
International Migrants Day dates