International Migrants Day is a global event observed on December 18. The day recognises the importance of protecting the rights and dignity of migrants around the world. Throughout history, humans have migrated from place to place in search of a better life and a promise of the future. The migrants arrive at new places and enrich the existing communities. They become a part of the community and adapt its various traditions and add their own flavour to it, which results in a beautiful diversity.
Sadly, there are also times when they are forced out of a place, as a result of ideological differences, war or a natural calamity. They are not always welcome in their newfound home and often face hardships in their day to day lives and become victims of discrimination. International Migrants Day is a day to create awareness in this regard among the people.
It was on December 18, 1990, that the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution for the protection of the rights of migrant workers and their families. Ever since it has become an annual event.
The International Organization for Migration which has around 500 offices in various countries along with various government and non-government bodies organise a number of events to mark the day. The events shed light on a range of migration-related issues like social cohesion, dignity, solidarity and exploitation.
International Migrants Day 2020: Theme
This year, the theme of the International Organization for Migration is “Reimagining Human Mobility”. The theme assumes special significance owing to the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of migrants around the world. “During the past months, migrants have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. Their work in health, transportation and food services made our lives under lockdown more bearable,” said the United Nations.
It, however, noted that many migrants living on the margins of society have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 as there have been job losses, evictions and other forms of discrimination. Without regular income and a permanent shelter, they were forced to return their homes, enduring tremendous hardships.
The pandemic has highlighted mobility as a major challenge in people’s lives and the migrants have been severely affected by travel restrictions. In India, this was clearly evident as thousands of migrants walked back from the big cities towards their villages following the announcement of the lockdown.