130 nations agree on safe migration | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 13, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:18 AM, December 13, 2016

130 nations agree on safe migration

Global Forum on Migration, Development ends in Dhaka aiming to protect migrants

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At least 130 countries unanimously agreed to have a global treaty for better protection of the migrants, a global phenomenon that is increasing rapidly across the world.

They wanted the treaty to be legally binding or in the form of Sustainable Development Goals that the countries are responsible to achieve on their own, Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque said at a press briefing in the city's Bangabandhu International Convention Centre (BICC) yesterday.

"Such a consensus is historic," he said as the chair of the ninth Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). The three-day summit concluded at the BICC yesterday.

The global treaty will have provisions to protect rights of migrants in any form -- regular or irregular -- and maximise their development benefits, the foreign secretary mentioned.

Bangladesh hosted the GFMD at a time when the world witnessed one of the largest movements of people amid armed conflicts. Tens of thousands of people are taking refuge in Arab countries and Europe, creating a global hue and cry with many countries refusing to accept them.

Thousands of migrants also died while crossing the Mediterranean, while migrant crisis in the Andaman Sea last year involving migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar drew global attention.

Some 80 lakh Bangladeshis work abroad, mostly in the Middle East, Malaysia and Singapore, but high recruitment cost, abuses in the destination countries, forced labour and indebtedness cause great miseries to a large number of low-skilled migrants.

Migrants, who leave behind their families back home, too undergo psychological and health problems. Besides, there are threats of climate-induced displacement of people in Bangladesh.

Against such a backdrop, Bangladesh placed the proposal of Global Compact on Migration at the UN summit in New York on September 19. It is scheduled to be adopted in 2018 after series of consultations beginning early next year.

Foreign Secretary Shahidul said the delegations, including those from the Middle East, have endorsed the various problems the migrants face and agreed on having the global treaty on migration.

He presented the summary of the three days' deliberations of some 600 delegates, including ministers, UN and government officials, and of over 200 civil society members.

The delegates extensively discussed the issues of recruitment cost and social cost of migration, and sought provisions on these in the global compact.

“Presently, labour migration occurs under bilateral agreements, but such agreement does not help address the problems migrants are facing,” he said.

The GFMD delegates widely spoke on xenophobia faced by migrants in many countries, and sought that the states have policies on enhancing social cohesion, integration and respect for multiculturalism.

“The forum has specifically mentioned the migrants who are in a vulnerable situation,” Shahidul said.

Delegates also stressed the need for opening legal channels for migration for all categories of people -- skilled or low-skilled -- and effective border management to combat people smuggling or human trafficking.

Employers and recruitment industry delegations were present at the programme, where they agreed on the global compact.

The participants also agreed that global treaty on migration will include political commitments, concrete operational commitments with clear goals and indicators, concrete actions with follow-up mechanisms, Shahidul said.

The next year's GFMD would be held in Germany, he added.

Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali thanked the delegates for taking forward the discussions regarding global compact and hoped that it would help improve migration governance to ensure welfare and rights of the migrants.

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