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International Migrants Day in the UK

In light of the lack of protection offered by international institutions, migrants are standing up for themselves. So, this is a big date for all those who come from different countries and make their lives in the United Kingdom and contribute to the country, as they do in other parts of the world. Some events are taking place this Saturday 8 December around the country. One of them is being organised by MERU and will be celebrated at SOAS, University of London.


Marcella Via


International Migrants Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 1990. The aim of the resolution was to protect the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families.

Moreover, the day is an opportunity to recognize the contribution made by migrants to the economy, both in their home country and abroad, and to promote respect for their basic human rights.

According to the United Nation Secretary-General António Guterres “migration has always been with us. Climate change, demographics, instability, growing inequalities, and aspirations for a better life, as well as unmet needs in labour markets, mean it is here to stay. The answer is effective international cooperation in managing migration to ensure that its benefits are most widely distributed, and that the human rights of all concerned are properly protected”.

Photo Flickr

As described in the international migration report released by the institution last year, the number of international migrants has continued to grow rapidly on a global scale, reaching 258 million in 2017. This figure represents a considerable increase, as in 2010 there were 220 million people recorded as international migrants.

Even if the United Nations promotes the defence of migrants’ rights, it is also important to consider the fact that they regard migrants as  factors to improve the world economy. Indeed, the institution said, “This new era has created challenges and opportunities for societies throughout the world. It also has served to underscore the clear linkage between migration and development, as well as the opportunities it provides for co-development, that is, the concerted improvement of economic and social conditions at both origin and destination”.

At the same time, during recent years it has been possible to observe an attempt to contain, rather than manage migration. This issue is illustrated by the dichotomy of “authorized” and “non-authorized” migrant flows, enforced by international law and Frontex, the European Union’s border agency. Such a differentiation denotes a hierarchy within migration, where some are more desirable than others.

Within this scenario, Africa is the European Union’s top priority. According to Stratfor, since 2016 the European Commission proposed a new partnership framework, singling out a list of short-term priority countries deserving immediate action. All the countries are located in Sub-Saharan Africa and include Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, Mali and Senegal.

They point out that “The only common denominators among the five are: their role as origin and/or transit zones in current unauthorized and unwanted flows towards Europe; the apparent viability of some political cooperation in this field. In fact, other key countries, like Eritrea or Sudan, have not been included due to their internal political situations, which would make it too embarrassing for the EU to engage them directly”.

It seems like the words preached by international institutions like the United Nations and the European Union do not correspond with the facts.

Moreover, other relevant international actors have been directly involved in the deterioration of migrants’ rights.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has indeed reported that through its projects, the World Bank has physically or economically displaced about 3.4 million people.

Because of this, it is important to ask who are the migrants these institutions are actually aiming to protect, and if they are achieving that. On the occasion of International Migrants Day, Movimiento Ecuador is organising an event with information desks, Latin-American gastronomy, exhibitions by artists and dancers.

Movimiento Ecuador en el Reino Unido, MERU, is an independent political and social movement reuniting people from Ecuador living in London. The movement aims to support and validate the realization of the National Assembly to review the Political Constitution of Ecuador and to present a proposal that includes the main necessities of immigrants for the new constitution.

The International Migrants Day will be celebrated by MERU will take place on Saturday, 8 December, from 3 pm. to 9 pm. at SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, WC1H 0XG, London.  For further information, visit Facebook event page or email   

(Photos: Pixabay)


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