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Religion and Society

MIGRATION, A PRIORITY FOR THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

Cairo 13-14 September 2004

 

Last September, the Regional Hearing for the Mediterranean and the Middle East was held in Cairo, and organised by the Global Commission on International Migration. The Commission was promoted by the Secretary of the United Nations, who recognised the theme of International Migration as a high priority for the international community.

 

 

Participants in the Commission include experienced politicians who are sensitive to the subject, including ex-heads of state, government and ministers, as well as representatives from civil society. The Cairo Conference follows on the heels of the one held in Manila (Philippines) last May and precedes the European, African and American conference which will soon take place. With these five large, regional consultations, the Commission should be able to reach its goal of presenting the Secretary General of the United Nations and interested bodies with some recommendations for the control and governance of international migration. More than 160 people took part in the conference, representing governments, international and regional organisations, experts and non-governmental organisations. The debate revolved around four principal areas of interest: economic aspects of migration, illegal migration, the relationship between immigrants-society and human rights, and international policies of governments regarding migration.

 

 

The assembly's conclusions, available on the Commission's website (www.gcim.org), emphasised that the theme of international migration should not be faced by single governments in an isolated manner, nor should the diverse aspects of the problem be separated or ignored: political, social, cultural and aspects dealing with international economic relations. Lack of development and an unequal distribution of wealth are among the root causes which cannot be ignored. Even bilateral international accords can save much suffering and tragedy. Migration must not be seen only in its problematic dimension: one must recognise the effective benefits that it brings both to the countries of origin for migrant workers, as well as to the host countries.

 

 

The Commission also stressed the principle that migrants have rights even when they enter a country illegally. Among migrants' rights, the right to express, even publicly, one's own cultural and religious identity occupies an important place

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