Support migrants, treat them with respect and dignity, govts told

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has urged governments to adopt more flexible forms of citizenship, ensure that forced migrants have necessary support to find work and are integrated into their new communities.

The IFRC also called for more relaxed approaches to cross-border mobility and better protection against crime and violence.

A new report by IFRC shows that there are more than 72 million people who are forcibly displaced.

According to the 2012 World Disasters Report, growing numbers of people are forced into migration by a range of what it calls “increasingly complex ‘drivers’” including conflict and violence, disasters, political upheaval and even by large-scale development projects. Of these, an estimated 20 million are living in a state of prolonged displacement.

The report notes that the growing resistance of politicians and their citizens to supporting people who have been forced to flee their homes is perhaps the main impediment to providing better humanitarian and longer-term support to these highly vulnerable populations.

It argues that many “states have effectively decided that the misery of excluded forced migrants is an unfortunate price worth paying to avoid having to confront the difficult political questions.”

The report further argues that there “is no shortage of innovative approaches that could help to alleviate the trauma of extended exile,” adding that “the difficulty lies not in the new ideas, but in escaping the old ones.”

Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the IFRC, says the report provides “practical backing” for the Red Cross Red Crescent’s ongoing call for governments to ensure that migrants, irrespective of their legal status, have access to the support that they need and that they are treated at all times with respect and dignity.

“Last November, at our International Conference, 164 governments agreed to this principle and indeed they passed a resolution to this affect. That was an important step, but it was just a step,” said Geleta. “Governments need to adopt new policies and strategies that recognize the rights of migrants and that help them become productive members of communities, and not social pariahs.”

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