UN chief at 3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon outlined three challenges facing the planet on the issue of migration and placed emphasis on the problem of human trafficking, especially of women and children, in his address to the 3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) that opened in Athens on 3rd of November.

The Forum, which is attended by Greece’s President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and prime minister and foreign minister George Papandreou, brings together more than 250 representatives of international organisations.

The first challenge, he said, was the global financial crisis and safeguarding the vulnerable migrants who, due to the crisis in the fields they are traditionally employed (construction, industry, tourism), face a higher rate of unemployment than other categories of working people. However, repercussions from the crisis were also felt by the countries of origin of the migrants, since the remittances by the migrants to their home countries were reduced by 7-10 percent in 2009. Further, the global financial crisis has created a social problem as well, since the migrants are being turned into scapegoats and are being blamed for the low wages which, however, are not due to the migrants, the UN chief elaborated.

The second challenge, he continued, was that of climate change. He noted that 10 percent of the global population lives in coastal areas that could be affected by the rise in the sea levels. In addition, new migration waves are anticipated due to extreme weather conditions such as floods, drought, etc.

The third challenge, Ban said, was that of the vulnerable migrants such as women and children, who he said suffer degradation, are pushed into forced labor, prostitution and even organ removal. The UN chief also noted that a global campaign has been launched for prevention of violence against women.

Opening the Forum, which is being held at Athens’ Megaron-Concert Hall, Greece’s deputy interior minister Theodora Tzakri stressed that this Forum will not be just another event without result, but the conclusions reached will help in finding solutions to this global issue.

Interior minister Yannis Ragoussis, who took the podium after the UN chief, focused on the problem of illegal migrants and on the social and civil integration of legal migrants.

Greece, he said, has realised both the abilities and the limitations of police measures, while the government has declared its intention to clash with the illegal migration networks.

He also referred to the two focal points of the country’s policy for the integration of migrants.

The first focal point is the guarantee of the integration of legal migrants through measures to enhance their safety, and the participation of long-residing migrants in local government elections through the provision of Greek nationality to the migrants’ children born in Greece.

The second focal point, Ragoussis continued, is the management of the constantly increasing number of migrants lacking travel documents (illegal migrants). One of the measures that will be taken is the establishment of an executive coordination center for such migrants, with the participation of all the ministries involved, he said.

The minister stressed that a prerequisite for the solution of that problem is international cooperation, given that the problem is a global one.

All background papers from the Global Forum on Migration and Development can be downloaded from the official website – html

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