“Last year, on the International Migrants Day, we underlined the importance of social cohesion and recognized the generosity of societies that support migrants in their communities, not knowing what 2020 would bring”, IOM Director General António Vitorino said at the start of a video released Thursday on the occasion of this international date, celebrated each year on December 18 after approval by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2000.

In 2019, as Vitorino recalled, migrants were declared by IOM as the “champions of resilience in difficult times”, “without knowing how they – and we – would be tested”, in reference to the current covid-19 disease pandemic.

In the nearly three-minute message, the IOM Director General stressed that the world had witnessed “first-hand” the central role that migrants have played at the forefront of the global fight against covid-19, whether taking care of the sick or working to maintain essential services.

“The dedication and entrepreneurial spirit we have seen this year remind us that as we move from pandemic response to recovery in the months to come, migrants will be an integral part of this return to normal life,” said the IOM Director General, mentioning that also many of these people, due to the pandemic crisis, have also lost their jobs, face situations of poverty or cannot return to their country of origin.

António Vitorino recalled that to ensure that migrants are fully included in the post-pandemic recovery period, the efforts already made by many countries must be strengthened, namely ensuring that migrants have access to social services and guarantee that “no are left behind”.

In this regard, the IOM representative argued that at a time when anti-covid-19 vaccines become available, migrants, regardless of their status, should have equal access to national immunization programs,” not as a special class of people, but as friends, neighbors and colleagues ”.

“The global response to covid-19 offers a unique opportunity to reinvent human mobility from the ground up, to implement the vision of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and to build thriving, healthy and resilient communities. Together we can make it happen,”concluded António Vitorino.

The most recent estimates indicate the existence of around 272 million international migrants in the world, or about 3.5% of the world’s population.

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