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12 May 2016

Let’s Make Sure We Talk About Migrants at the World Humanitarian Summit

By William Lacy Swing

Words are the most precious things we have. We’ve been using them pretty appallingly of late, creating a world where people are castigated for trying to get their families out of the way of falling bombs. Where chasing your dream has become a nightmarish navigation of insults and abuse.

Any attempts to ameliorate, to placate and to try to find a more inclusive, tolerant world are met with disdain and distrust. “It’s all been tried before,” say the naysayers. “We need action, not words.”

Yes, there is a lot of talk of walls and fences are going up again. The message to migrants is clear: You are not welcome.

Does it have to be thus? Words are powerful – mightier than swords. My long career has taught me that iconic moments like the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of Apartheid, and peace in the Balkans are slow and incremental in coming. They may appear to race up to us and be a moment in history as they recede but in fact they were years in the making. The process becomes the substance.

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Bentiu Protection of Civilians Site in South Sudan. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed 2016

World Humanitarian Summit 2016: IOM

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is committed to supporting the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) and its outcomes at the country, regional and global levels with the overall objective of a more effective and efficient humanitarian system, while at the same time advocating for humanitarian responses that meet the needs of migrants and other mobile populations. Over the past two and half years multiple WHS consultations have taken place, allowing a variety of opportunities for many stakeholders to engage in the process.

IOM has contributed substantively to these consultations to highlight the needs of vulnerable mobile populations such as IDPs and migrants in crisis, while also advocating for a stronger and more inclusive humanitarian system and response, which continues to be strained by protracted crises. IOM has helped bring in a variety of voices to these consultations, from migrants caught in crises around the world, to IDPs living within their own borders, to front line responders, both national and international. Many of the WHS consultations did reflect a marked focus on the mobility and displacement aspects of crises.

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Migration in the News
  • The Guardian reported that Kenya says it will close Dadaab, the world’s biggest refugee camp, within a year and send hundreds of thousands of Somalis back to their war-torn homeland or on to other countries. The plan has been criticized by human rights and aid groups.

  • published an Op-Ed by IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission David Derthick on the essential role of Protection of Civilians Sites.

  • AFP reported that Austria and Greece's foreign ministers said that they have buried the hatchet after differences over Europe's migrant crisis prompted a chill in relations and the recall of Greece’s ambassador.

  • DPA reported that migrants stranded in Greece are growing desperate, with some attempting to swim back to Turkey from Chios for a second shot at reaching Europe. Others launched a hunger strike at a camp near Athens to protest their miserable living conditions.

  • AFP reported that the European Union will ask Nigeria for a re-admission agreement to facilitate the rapid return of Nigerian asylum seekers refused leave to stay in Europe.

  • Reuters reported that flash floods displaced nearly 120,000 people in Ethiopia last month and a total of almost half a million are expected to be affected this year.

  • Euronews reported a severe shortage of food and drinking water and poor sanitation in the Darwan displacement camp near Sanaa in Yemen.

  • Democratic Voice of Burma reported on the integration of some 250 Rohingya refugees who arrived in Aceh, Indonesia a year ago.

Trending on the Internet

  • Quartz reported on the migration flows that characterize New Zealand and the policy lessons that they hold for Europe.

  • Reuters reported that migrants stranded in Idomeni on the Greek-Macedonian border have made an improvised mosque, kindergarten and school, and established businesses in order to survive.


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