The Lampedusa tragedy reminds us of palpable policy failures on migration

Guy Ryder

The recent tragedy off the coast of Lampedusa, resulting in the loss of many lives, is once again a poignant reminder that the quest for better and safer livelihoods and decent jobs is taking on more desperate proportions. It is a bitter irony that this incident took place while the United Nations General Assembly High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, held in New York on 3-4 October 2013, was discussing how best to maximize the benefits of international migration for development, including for migrants themselves. It is through human beings – men, women and children, and their families, that migration and development connect.

The Lampedusa tragedy is a sharp reminder that the international community must act together urgently to make migration safe and fully respectful of human rights.

We must find ways to create more regular migration channels to ensure that real labor market needs, including those at lower-skilled levels, are met in destination countries, in collaboration with the real actors of the world of work – labor ministries, employers’ and workers’ organizations. This will require a profound policy shift in many countries: a much more refined balance between border policies and labor migration policies; more inclusive policymaking on migration, involving a broader range of ministries and stakeholders; and a huge effort on the part of governments, social partners and civil society, to change negative public perceptions.

If we fail, the High-level Dialogue would have been in vain.

­­­­­­­­­Guy Ryder is Director-General of the UN’s International Labour Organization. Addis Standard received this article from ILO


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