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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

18 December 2020

International Migrants’ Day 2020

Ms. Shahnaz Gazi, Charge d’Affairs a.i. Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, 

Mr. Rongvudhi Virabutr, Deputy Director-General of the Department of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand, 

Ms. Nenette Motus, Coordinator, Regional United Nations Network on Migration for Asia and the Pacific and Regional Director, IOM, Asia and the Pacific, 

Distinguished delegates, Ladies and gentlemen, 

Welcome to the Observance of the International Migrants Day.  

I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Thailand and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Asia and the Pacific for their support in organising today’s event. 

As the United Nations commemorates the seventy-fifth anniversary, the reimagining human mobility must continue to strengthen our efforts to achieve transformed and resilient societies in Asia and the Pacific. 

Since the onset of COVID-19, the evidence shows that migrants have been among the most disproportionately affected, as they faced challenges to their lives and livelihoods.  

However, at the same time, migrants are essential workers supporting countries through the pandemic and beyond and are therefore part of the solution to COVID-19 and countries’ long-term sustainable recovery. 

In responding to this crisis and for building back better, the need to focus on safe, orderly and regular migration has never been more urgent.  

Distinguished delegates, Ladies and gentlemen, 

International migration is a defining and expanding global and regional reality. Its levels, complexity and impacts have increased over time.  

Currently, there are about 65 million international migrants in Asia and the Pacific and about   107 million people from the region are living outside their countries of birth. 

These migrants contribute to countries of origin and destination every day, they send remittances, worth almost a third of a trillion dollars in 2019; contribute to economic growth in countries of destination, help reduce poverty in countries of origin; and develop and transfer skills. 

It has long been clear that to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Asia-Pacific region, migrants need to be included, their human rights respected.  

In view of this, we are launching today the Asia-Pacific Migration Report 2020: Assessing Implementation of the Global Compact for Migration.  I thank all of my colleagues in ESCAP, and in all 15 UN agencies of the Regional Network, for their support and collaboration in preparing this report and in co-organizing the regional review.  

Please allow me to highlight key findings of the report.  

First, governments and relevant stakeholders must scale up collaborative action to ensure a whole-of-government and whole-of-society-approach that will mitigate socio-economic impacts on migrants and their families.  

Second, governments must undertake extra efforts to achieve SDGs which will, in turn, support the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration. 

Third, governments must collaborate more closely through policy coordination, norm-setting and cooperation across all 23 objectives of the Global Compact for Migration. 

Fourth, migration policies must respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of all migrants and their families; reduce situations of vulnerability they face, and integrate them into sustainable development as both, agents of change and beneficiaries. Migration policies should always be child-sensitive and gender responsive. 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

I am confident that with the establishment of the Regional United Nations Network on Migration for Asia and the Pacific, ESCAP along with the UN system will take forward the recommendations of the Report.  

This will also provide another opportunity to work towards the first Asia-Pacific Regional Review of the Global Compact from 10 to 12 March 2021 within the ESCAP platform to ensure concrete action and solution-oriented follow up.  

I urge all member States and stakeholders to participate in this upcoming review process to ensure that all people are able to move safely, to be included in societies, and contribute to and benefit from sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific and beyond.  

Thank you very much.   

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