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18 December 2018

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International Migrants Day | Message from the Director General


On International Migrants Day a Call for Dignity, Respect for Migrant Choices

​By António Vitorino, Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Geneva – Migration is the great issue of our era. Migration With Dignity (#WithDignity) is the theme of 2018’s International Migrants Day, which we observe on Tuesday (18 December). 

Dignity is at the core of our mission. Treating all migrants with dignity is the fundamental requirement we face before anything else we attempt on migration—a troubling issue coming at a troubling time for the world community—because our future depends on it. So, too, does our present. 

I am newly arrived at the International Organization for Migration, recently chosen to lead one of the international community’s oldest and most effective organizations. Yet migration is as old as humankind. Which means that IOM, at a mere 67 years of age, is a relative newcomer. 

We are today a species on the move; hundreds of millions of us are, in the broadest sense, migrants. There remains much to do. And learn. But dignity comes first. Foremost, the dignity to choose. 

Migration is a force for dignity because it allows people to choose to save themselves, protect themselves, educate themselves, or free themselves. It lets millions choose participation over isolation, action over idleness, hope over fear and prosperity over poverty.   

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Star-studded Award Ceremony for Global Migration Film Festival in Cairo

Cairo – Today, on International Migrants Day, the Global Migration Film Festival draws to a close at the historic Al-Manial Palace in Cairo, Egypt, culminating the most successful edition held so far. 

A truly worldwide festival run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with United Nations Information Centres, 161 cities in 105 countries have hosted 558 screenings, 50 percent more than 2017.

Drawing on volunteers from the IOM and its partners wherever it takes place, this year’s festival showcases dramas, comedies, as well as gritty documentaries that bring the reality of the migrant experience to the silver screen. Over 800 films were submitted for possible inclusion in this year’s festival, IOM’s third. 

IOM’s regional office for the Middle East, one of nine such offices globally, hosts this year’s festival under the auspices of Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).  

 “We selected Cairo to be the first capital outside IOM’s Geneva headquarters to host the closing awards ceremony of this important festival in recognition of Egypt’s leading cultural and political role in the Middle East and North Africa region as well as in the African continent, and in particular its leadership in migration governance,” said Carmela Godeau, IOM Regional Director for MENA.  

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  • ​The Himalayan Times published an op-ed written by IOM Nepal Chief of Mission Paul Norton about the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and what major labour-sending countries like Nepal hope to gain.
  • Reuters article highlighted a database launched by IOM to help Afghanistan tackle its rising human trafficking problem.
  • IPS featured the story of Khoudia Ndiaye, a Masters of Law student from Senegal who once lived in fear as an irregular migrant in Morocco, but has since returned home and is now a volunteer for IOM’s Migrants as Messengers campaign.
  • Nigeria’s Today and Daily Trust reported that IOM has so far assisted about 11,500 stranded Nigerians from Libya, Mali and Niger Republic, among others, to return to Nigeria under the EU-IOM Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Nigeria.
  • Sudan Tribune reported that Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services, in coordination with the police and military intelligence, have freed 237 victims of human trafficking between April and December.

  • AFP and VOA reported that the UN General Assembly adopted a Global Compact on Refugees, aimed at improving efforts to manage large refugee movements, by a wide majority on Monday.
  • Newsweek ran an op-ed on migration and football which asks why we ascribe loathing and shame to a group of people who only want to play and win.
  • The Washington Post featured the work of photographer Luis Antonio Rojas who has documented the faces of migrants in Tijuana, and the messages that they send home to loved ones.