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International Migrants Day

Cities of Refuge: Bringing an urban lens to the forced displacement challenge

Axel Baeumler's picture
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Cities of Refuge
 Photo credit: Mohamed Azakir / World Bank

The Syrian conflict has reached the grim milestone of becoming the largest displacement crisis since World War II, with over half of the country’s pre-war population having left their homes since 2011—a particularly sobering statistic as we observe International Migrants Day on December 18, 2017 today.

For many of us, the Syrian crisis brings to mind images of refugee families blocked at European borders and sprawling humanitarian camps. Yet the majority of those fleeing the violence have remained in cities inside Syria and in neighboring countries, in the hopes of reaching safety, and accessing better services and jobs.

This shift from camps to cities and towns has critical implications for how to effectively deal with the forced displacement challenge—and it is not confined to Syria, but a reality across many countries affected by conflict in the Middle East and beyond.

UN Secretary-General’s message on International Migrants Day, December 18, 2010

Dilip Ratha's picture

  U N I T E D   N A T I O N S                   N A T I O N S   U N I E S

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
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MESSAGE ON INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS DAY
18 December 2010

 

The global economy remains fragile and the effects of multiple crises are still being felt, not least by the world’s 214 million international migrants.

Migration is more likely to benefit all when it is safe and through regular channels.  Yet the opportunities for regular migration have diminished.  Rising unemployment has spurred discrimination.  The politics of polarization are on the rise. 

It is important to recall, particularly in these turbulent times, the fundamental role that migrants play in strengthening the global economy.

Treat them fair

Dilip Ratha's picture


On days like this, I look out of the window and realize a year has gone by. And yet there is this sense of running on the same spot: Yes, we have worked very hard; but has that made a dent on the world?

 Photo: istockphoto.com

For those working on migration issues, the answer isn’t very encouraging. The only good news is that remittances proved to be resilient during the crisis and are on a recovery path. But anti-immigration sentiment has deepened worldwide. In some cases, the sentiment is beginning to take a hurtful tone. What is lost in rhetoric and scapegoats is the fact the majority of migrants is neither criminal nor unwanted. That migrants are human beings and ought to be respected as such has taken a back seat in many countries with strong and democratic institutions.

On this day, the International Migrants Day, it is worth repeating the words of the UN Secretary-General: Together, let us reaffirm the fundamental principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.