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Zimbabweans Mark International Migrants Day

  • VOA News
  • Tatenda Gumbo

FILE: An African rescued by the Migrant Offshore Aid Station reacts as the ship Phoenix reaches Sicily's port of Pozzallo. The charity provided this courtesy photo Oct. 5, 2014.

FILE: An African rescued by the Migrant Offshore Aid Station reacts as the ship Phoenix reaches Sicily's port of Pozzallo. The charity provided this courtesy photo Oct. 5, 2014.

The international community Thursday marked the United Nations International Migrants Day with calls on governments to ensure the rights and fundamental freedoms of nearly 232 million migrants the world over is safeguarded and protected.

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon, in his statement marking the day, called on world leaders to ratify and implement all core international human rights instruments protecting the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families as well as instruments of international labour law.

“Accurate data is essential if States are to include migrants in their development strategies and enable them to contribute their skills and experiences to the advancement of their societies. Migration policies must be evidence-based, rather than rooted in xenophobia and misperceptions,” added Ki-moon.

International Organization for Migration director William Lacy Swing called on world leaders to work hard and stop their exploitation.

“We must address the drivers of desperation migration and act in concerted and coherent partnership,” said Ambassador Swing.

“This is a battle we must fight together. We need more political leadership and the courage to counter the worrying rise of xenophobia."

Throughout the world migrants remain vulnerable and are exposed to many elements like unfair labour practices; sexual exploitation and abuse, while Zimbabwean migrants in South African in particular say they continues to experience xenophobic attacks and denial of basic human rights.

Zimbabwe Exiles Forum project co-ordinator Diana Zimbudzana said the world should cater for the needs of migrants.

Zimbudzana told VOA Studio 7 besides the glaring issues faced by migrants, other problems have risen in their lives seeking economic or political freedom.

“You’d find that in the African context that family and extended family are actually quite crucial and important and because now people are all over the world, the whole segment for the family structure has been torn apart,” she said.

Speaking on the plight of youth and women, she said there is need for positive discrimination when governments deal with these migrants, as these demographics are more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

Zimbudzana said regardless of the circumstances of a person’s entrance into a country, minors and women should be regarded differently.

“We have unaccompanied minors in our organization who come through to us seeking assistance. I’ll tell you why this is so, a 15 year old boy who was herding his father’s cows back home in Masvingo decides just to abandon the cows, follow the road and come to South Africa, that is a minor, he has to be treated differently.”

According to the U.N around 232 million people are international migrants, many migrating for various reasons.

Many migrate for economic reasons, some from armed conflict and oppression, and now the increasing ecological migration where people leave their home area due to changing environmental condition including drought, floods among other issues.

Zimbabwe Migrants Association communications manager Daniel Muzenda echoed calls by Ki-moon, calling on governments to adequately deal with migrants entering their borders, but also called on governments failing flight to deal with their political, economic and social issues.

“This is not the society we want to be in, especially when it comes to the way migrants are treated. We should tell the government back at home that this is not the way we would want to live,” said Muzenda.

He added organizations must do more to assist the plight of migrants.

“At least as organizations try to lobby the government, governments are the ones who put laws into place, and so they should strictly adhere to those laws put in place.”

International Migrants Day was proclaimed by the UN in 2000, 10 years after the adoption on the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.