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18 December, International Migrants Day: Message from IOM Director General William Lacy Swing


A report arriving on my desk twice weekly tells a tragic story. It details the number of migrants who have died.  They die when the vessels smugglers cram them into sink, they die of exhaustion crossing deserts, or much worse they die when those holding them captive – in places like Libya – take everything they and their families can give, only to murder and bury the migrants in mass graves.

There is no longer any point in expressing sorrow, or horror, or guilty feelings. We must recognize migration is the mega-trend of our time. It’s a mega-trend which has pushed migration into the public’s consciousness and to the top of every government’s agenda.

Images of migrants on the move in great numbers, or being rescued at sea, which are driving our politics to the extremes do not tell the whole story. Think of the rising death tolls as an early warning of what has yet to come as demographic, political, social pressures, often leading to conflict – drive people to migrate in ever greater numbers.

Despite appearances and media spin, migration doesn’t have to be chaotic or seem like an invasion.  It is not a looming disease, set to contaminate our culture.

The upheaval we see all around in our politics should serve as a wake-up call to prepare rather than panic. We need to mould the future rather than ignore it. We should do this by embracing the inevitability of migration, changing the perceptions of migrants among our publics and better integrating migrants in our societies.

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