“I am a migrant.”
It is important to recognize that 258 million isn’t just a number to be addressed. It represents 258 million unique stories, experiences, and perspectives from individuals who hold the potential to contribute to the integrity and development of not just their local communities, but the global community at large.
The Youth Cafe and the UN Migration Agency promotes the diversity and inclusion of migrants through their platform, “i am a migrant,” allowing the voice of individuals to convey their own personal triumphs and struggles at various phases of their migration journeys. Available in eight languages, the testimonials are moving and puts a face to the jargons of policy. It’s important that we don’t forget our own stories, and keep an open mind in receiving the stories of others.
Key Trends in Migration Data on Individuals
According to UNHCR, the number of people displaced within and across borders as a result of persecution, conflict, or generalized violence has grown by over 50% in the past decade. The numbers rose from 42.7 million displaced people in 2007 to 68.5 million by the end of 2017 (UNHCR, 2017). These are persons under risk of human trafficking, lack of/reduced access to water, technology/electricity, education, and other social services to support them. Forced migration, or migration under displacement, is another issue that requires cooperation of governments, institutions, and entities at various levels.
Although the GCM does not explicitly address refugees, it will seek to address migration in a comprehensive manner to encompass various drivers behind migrations, including those under displacement.
The Road Less Travelled
Milly fled to Germany as a young child under refugee status. Growing up, she compared herself to her peers felt that the beautiful experiences they seemed to be having had nothing to do with her. Now on her way to study law, she has grown to accept her childhood as part of who she is. When she remembers being a little girl living in a tent among hundreds of strangers at a refugee camp, scared and curious of what was to become of her, she remembers that she represents one of the many voices of people who are living under the same conditions of uncertainty today.
She is hopeful that the GCM would help to reduce the risk of youth being deported back to non-secure countries of origin, and believes that as difficult as this process is going to be, all should partake and play a part in making it happen.
Milly’s story is just one of the millions of stories out there. Let’s remain engaged and take full pledge in exercising the rights we have in addressing today’s migration issues. As Milly’s story testifies, migration is a tool in the realization of potential of individuals. The outcome of the Youth Forum and the participation of youth in the GCM consultations and negotiations as well as the plan for implementation and follow-up will be presented within intergovernmental and public platforms, including the GCM follow-up and review. This review process will be integral in gauging the success of the implementation, an opportunity to respond meaningfully as a unified voice, to be visible in advocacy for successful implementation of policies, to make a statement about what matters to the youth of today.
Testimonials have been provided through the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth’s Europe Region under consent of individuals. Words have been edited for length and clarity