Excellency, the Head of the Mission of the European Union,
Excellency, the Resident Representative of the United Nations,
Mr. Maurizio Busatti, Chief of Mission of International Organization for Migration,
Representatives from the Civil Society and migrant communities
Friends from the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to participate in this event organized under the joint auspices of the IOM Mission to Nepal, the European Union Delegation to Nepal and the UN System Resident Office in Nepal to mark the International Migrants Day 2013. Let me express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the organizers, especially IOM, for having featured suitable programme on the important theme of human migration, migrants wellbeing and their contribution to development this afternoon. I appreciate the views expressed by the distinguished speakers on the issues of migrant wellbeing. On this occasion, I would also like to extend warm greetings to all the migrant communities of Nepal as well as those from all over the world, wishing for their safety, security, prosperity and happiness.
As a leading inter-governmental organization working in the field of migration since its establishment in 1951, IOM has made concrete and visible contribution in this field. IOM is working in various useful areas related to migration in Nepal, including capacity building, advisory services, technical cooperation on migration law, migration assistance to refugees, counter-trafficking and so on. I have learnt that IOM Mission in Nepal, working closely with UNHCR and other partners, has been able to resettle around 84,000 Bhutanese refugees so far in the third country. The role played by IOM for rescue and rehabilitation of Nepalese migrant workers during complex emergencies has been exemplary. I would like to appreciate IOM Nepal for all these good works it has carried out in this country.
Migration has sustained civilizations over ages and cross-fertilized them. At our time, we cannot imagine a world without migrant communities and their contribution to the development of the receiving and sending countries. And yet, the issues related to the migrant communities, their wellbeing and their contribution to the development have not received the global attention they deserve. Despite the role migration plays meaningfully in poverty reduction and social development and sustainable development, it could not feature in the Millennium Development Goals. As the world community embarks on formulating the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, it is an imperative for all of us to make sure that migration and development is adequately reflected and incorporated in the post-2015 process. The current 68th session of the UN General Assembly was able to hold a High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development and adopt a resolution in October highlighting the importance of promoting and protecting the fundamental rights of the migrant workers in view of their global contribution to development - encompassing sending, receiving and transit countries. I think more discourses and consultations should be held on migration, migrant workers and their wellbeing at the national, sub-regional, regional and global levels to mainstream this issue in the relevant international development agenda.
According to the available statistics, in 2013 the international migration figures worldwide reached 232 million, which is growing at an annual growth rate of 1.6 percent in between 2010 to 2013. The recent figures show that approximately one billion of the world’s 7 billion people are migrants. In other words, one in every seven people is on the move today, but the actual number of people directly affected by migration is even larger: family members, businesses, labour market sectors and national economies depend on migrants. Though we have figures of remittances sent by the migrant workers, we have not yet a mechanism in place for taking into account how much their toil generates and contributes to the economy of the hosting countries.
Today, there is a growing recognition that there are development impacts at both ends of migration corridors and that migration can contribute to the economic growth and development of migrant origin and destination countries. For a number of developing countries, remittances contribute to a significant part of GDP, largest source of foreign currency and trade enhancement. And a significant percentage of labour supply in developed countries comes from migration, which helps run their market and economy. The transit countries are as well benefitting from the migratory process through linkages, transit movements and the wider economic dynamics the mobility of people bring into. Migration is also contributing to the less visible intangibles of social remittances, including increasing flow of global trade and transfer of skills, values and innovation, expansion of banking and trade, production, and tourism sectors. Nepal is of the view that migration significantly contributes to the development process of the destination countries, while also providing relief for the migrant families and the economy of the origin countries.
With around 3 million Nepalese youths having migrated in search of job opportunities abroad and remittances contributing 21.5 percent to the GDP of the nation, we attach great importance to safe and regular labour movement from the origin to the destination countries. We feel that there is a need for bringing down the cost of recruitment by cutting the play of commission agents, making governance related to labour movements transparent and accountable at each step of operation, and raising the efficiency and effectiveness of the law enforcement agencies by strictly controlling any potential waste or corruption. A high level mechanism chaired by the Foreign Minister, and having representation of senior officials from various Ministries, including those from the law enforcement agencies, has been formed to look into the problems and challenges of the foreign employment sector more pragmatically. The mechanism has been very useful to thrash out any existing or emerging problems and directly address the genuine needs and concerns of the migrant workers at each step of the migration process, both at home and abroad through the working of the Nepalese diplomatic missions.
We have seen that that there have been several instances of abuse and exploitation of the migrant workers on the part of unscrupulous recruitment agents and employers in various destination countries, which can be controlled only through mutual understanding, cooperation and collaboration between the Governments of the sending and receiving countries. A conducive environment of realizing the fundamental rights of the migrant workers, especially those of women, children and low-skilled workers, has to be created globally to make migration fulfilling for everybody. A global development agenda inclusive of migration and development in all its core aspects would go a long way in this direction. Regional and global consultative mechanisms on migration issues such as the Colombo Process, Abu Dhabi Dialogue and Global Forum on Migration and Development can forge suitable agenda to ensure this.
In Nepal, remittances from the migrant workers have been extremely beneficial in reducing poverty, wider distribution of income and achieving human and social development. We have been emphasizing more capital formation from the remittances for contribution to the national development process and the addition of values that the returnees bring home in terms of new technology, skills, entrepreneurship and best learned practices.
Lately, in some parts of the world new complexities such as anti-migrant, xenophobic and racist sentiments have cropped up. Cases of smuggling of vulnerable peoples and trafficking of persons, especially women and children are also on the rise. Prevention and combating the smuggling and trafficking in persons, including that of female migrants, should get priority to ensure orderly, regular and safe migration of the vulnerable sections of the population. To manage labour migration and make it sustainable, it has become necessary to dispel migrant myths and stereotypes, and improve knowledge about contributions of migrant workers, with focus on ensuring safe migration, decent jobs, migrant’s rights and their wellbeing. The world should not forget that development process of the North and many countries in the South has its root on the migration. New response strategy to migration-related issues like increasing emergency humanitarian response capacity, and improved human and financial surge capacity are also necessary.
The Government of Nepal is willing to work together with international community and all other stakeholder countries to ensure that international migration and its contribution is duly reflected in all relevant international documents, including the post-2015 Development agenda to promote orderly labour migration for the benefit of all parties. Let’s hope that international migration takes a centre-stage of global development discourse at all levels.