“Being a migrant worker or a refugee is not our dream. But there is no other choice to survive and improve our well-being and that of our families.”
December 18 has been International Migrants Day since it was established by the ILO in 2000. Of course, behind every day of commemoration, there are stories of men and women, and therefore good reasons to celebrate it every year.
We, the International Young Christian Workers (IYCW), support the commemoration of the International Migrants Day 2023. Youth migration and refugees are among our movement’s priority actions.
“My name is Sharon, and I am 23 years old. I am currently working as a logistician in an Export Processing Zone in Sri Lanka. I migrated from my village to Colombo to find work. However, I still dream of going to South Korea for work, because here in Sri Lanka my income is very low, and I feel that my career development is very limited. I am a bread winner in the family. I have one younger sibling. My mother works in an ice cream factory and my father is a fisherman. Our combined salary is just enough for our daily needs, but it does not allow us to plan our future.”
The reason why there are so many migrant workers today is that they have difficulty finding work in their own countries. There are some jobs available, but they do not pay well. Many young people do not have the means to live on a daily basis, to pay for rent, food, healthcare and everyday expenses. In many developing countries, people's purchasing power is declining, while poverty is increasing. Youth unemployment is on the rise, forcing young people to migrate from rural areas to cities or other countries to find work. Like Sharon, most of them aim to improve their lot and the living conditions of their families. Their only dream is to find a better job with a good salary, so that they can send money home to support their families.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) states that the accelerating pace of economic globalization has generated a greater number of migrant workers than ever before. It is estimated that 73% of migrants are workers. This translates into millions of workers and their families traveling to countries other than their own in search of work. The ILO estimates that there are approximately 244 million migrants worldwide, representing 3.3 percent of the global population.
However, migration is not only due to a lack of work in the country of origin. There is also forced migration due to wars and socio-economic conflicts. Many asylum seekers seek refuge to protect their right to life. Many refugees also end up having to look for work in the country to which they fled.
Migrant workers contribute to the economy of the host countries, and the remittances they send home to their families help improve the economy of their home countries. However, many lack social protection and are vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking. Skilled migrant workers face less exploitation, but their departure deprives their own countries of a valuable workforce they need to develop their economies.
Migrants are human beings too. Therefore, in commemorating the International Migrants Day this year, we invite all IYCW members around the world to assert the rights of migrant workers and call for the protection and support of refugees. Sending and receiving countries must ensure and provide legal protection and equal rights to all migrant workers, regardless of age, color, religion, or race. All governments must adhere to the international labor standards as defined by ILO conventions 97 and 143.
WE CALL FOR EQUALITY, JUSTICE AND JUST WORK FOR A DIGNIFIED LIFE!