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13 June 2018

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IOM Deputy Director General Ambassador Laura Thompson (Left) and UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk (right).

Freeing Migration from Populist Myths: Geneva Hosts Public Debate About Modern Migration

Geneva (IOM) – Following a tragic week, during which at least 148 migrants lost their lives in two separate sea incidents off the coasts of Tunisia and Yemen, IOM Deputy Director General Ambassador Laura Thompson participated in the public debate “Migration, from Global to Local” where she discussed the challenges of managing one of the most important phenomena of our times: migration.

The debate, which took place last Thursday (07/06), was organized by the Swiss Press Club in Geneva and moderated by the Swiss journalist Luisa Ballin. Ambassador Thompson was joined by Volker Türk, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, and Thierry Apothéloz, Geneva State Councillor responsible for social cohesion.

Ambassador Thompson got the discussions underway by commenting on what she noted is the most common question put to her by the press: “What [is there] to do about the problem of migration?”

“Is migration a problem, an opportunity or both? I think that it can be both. I am not going to pretend that migration doesn’t have some downsides. Forced, massive migration movements are indeed a challenge for everybody, as large numbers of people arrive at borders. Irregular migration is another problem for everyone, especially for migrants, who often leave very vulnerable situations.”

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  • CNN reported that the search-and-rescue ship The Aquarius stranded in the Mediterranean Sea since Sunday began its roughly 800-mile journey to Spain on Tuesday evening after transferring more than 500 rescued migrants to Italian Coast Guard and naval ships.

  • Politico.eu, Europapress (1), Europapress (2), and COPE reported on the situation surrounding the stranded Aquarius rescue ship, the standoff between Malta and Italy and Spain’s offer to receive the migrants.
  • ABC International reported that the NGO Human Rights at Sea denied that there is another ship in the Mediterranean with 790 migrants on board.
  • Time reported that politicians across Europe seem more likely to use the plight of the MV Aquarius rescue ship to their advantage than to think of reforming their migration policies.
  • Il Fatto Quotidiano reported that to stop the departures to Italy from Libya, a new agreement is needed with three militias.
  • Xinhua reported that the Government of Ethiopia confirmed the drowning of 46 of its nationals in the Indian ocean earlier this month.
  • Dhaka Tribune reported that torrential rain accompanied by storms hit Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar, causing 37 incidents of landslides and leaving one child dead and several people injured.
  • Bangladesh’s New Age reported that conditions in the Rohingya camps further deteriorated as torrential rains that began on Saturday continued to trigger landslides and flooding.
  • Canada’s The Huffington Post ran an op-ed noting that it’s time for Canada to truly open its borders with an open-borders policy in which all people regardless of citizenship, origin, wealth or skills would be permitted to enter Canada, and no one would need to cross the border irregularly.

  • Euractiv reported that France is the third European country in terms of asylum applications received but is only 26th out of 28 when it comes to acceptance rate.
  • The Guardian reported that Australia’s migrant intake will be substantially down this financial year – possibly 25,000 below the 190,000 planned figure – led by reductions in the number of skilled and sponsored working visas.