pharm 378 deaths we reported last year.
We know that migration – and particularly irregular migration – is a controversial topic around the world. Too often the debate focuses on its perceived negative socioeconomic impact on employment and cultural differences. But we urgently need to change this lens through which people view migration – if we are to save the desperate people who continue to risk their lives migrating in search of safety and a better future. All too often they are exploited by criminals making fortunes in excess of US$1-2 million per boat on the overcrowded, unseaworthy vessels they send unsuspecting migrants to their deaths on.
Specifically we urge the international community to take more responsibility for saving the lives of the thousands of migrants – men, women and children – who undertake dangerous journeys in small boats on rough seas, and on foot across deserts and mountains.
It is unacceptable that anyone fleeing for their life be denied safe haven or rescue. Migrants fleeing war, religious extremism and natural disasters deserve our empathy – not our indifference. Migrants contribute greatly both to their countries of origin and their host communities.
This new diaspora also has an important role to play in helping their communities back home. They are credible voices whom those contemplating unsafe journeys will listen to. They are a voice of reason in an often tumultuous debate. IOM’s information campaign highlighting the Contributions of Migrants is crucial in countering misinformation by presenting evidence in readily understandable ways.
Better evidence, data and evaluations of the impact of migration policies and programmes are key to countering misconceptions about the real scale and impact of migration. In 2014 we encouraged IOM missions worldwide to engage in the world of social media with our #MigrationMeans campaign on Twitter and Facebook. IOM missions shared photos of migrants on social media explaining what migration means to the individuals involved. Success stories are also important and in 2015 IOM will launch the #MigrantHeroes Campaign. IOM will ask the public to nominate “migrant heroes” who have made a significant contribution to society after migrating abroad. I will invite selected winners to participate on the Migrant Voices panel at the 2015 IOM Council in Geneva.
This campaign will allow IOM to put a human face on the narrative that migrants contribute positively in the countries and cities where they live across the globe. I hope that you will actively support it.