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Needs of migrants high on humanitarian agenda

The needs, rights and dignity of world's migrants has been on the agenda at a high-level humanitarian meeting in Geneva this month.

Friday December 18, 2015

Credit: IFRC

The 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the largest humanitarian meeting of its kind, is being attended by 190 Red Cross societies and government representatives from each of their countries. It was held in the Swiss capital over three days (8 to 10 December 2015).

The message delivered by International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement leaders, during the conference's plenary on migration, was that governments as well as aid and humanitarian organisations need to do more to protect and promote the dignity and safety of all migrants, and to ensure their access to essential services.

"All people, regardless of status, have a right to live with safety and dignity," said Elhadj As Sy, the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). "We need to do more - governments and the humanitarian community together - to meet these needs."

The Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Yves Daccord, stressed the importance of a coordinated effort in response to the current migration crisis. "Understanding the diversity and complexity of the human and political realities behind migration is fundamental to the development of humane, effective and sustainable responses. Such responses should be driven above all by humanity."

In their joint call, the two leaders recalled the commitments made by States at the International Conference in 2011. Four years ago, States joined the Movement in adopting a resolution on migration that included commitments to provide migrants with access to basic services, promote non-violence and social inclusion, and ensure that National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are able to work with all migrants, regardless of their legal status.

"The Red Cross and Red Crescent is present in all countries along migration routes. We are able to support people at all points of their journeys. We call again on our government partners to help facilitate this role, and to strive to put the needs and rights of vulnerable people on the move at the centre," said Mr Sy.

"Legitimate security concerns must not become the primary factor in States' migration policies, at the cost of humanitarian considerations and respect for the rights of all migrants. In other words, security imperatives must not supersede humanitarian imperatives," added Mr Daccord.

Earlier this year, the IFRC launched a global campaign, calling on individuals, communities, decision makers, social commentators and leaders at all levels to do all they can to support vulnerable migrants.

The campaign - 'Protect humanity - Stop indifference' - seeks to foster solidarity and empathy for vulnerable people in their countries of origin, and at points of transit and destination, and calls for their protection.

Australian Red Cross is committed to protecting the dignity of all migrants and ensuring their humanitarian needs are met. It worked hard with its Red Cross counterparts across the world to make sure migration issues had a high profile at the conference.

The outcome of that included the plenary, a workshop looking at innovative ways to address migration issues, a progress report on a 10 year strategy focusing on helping to restore family links of those separated by war, conflict, disaster and migration, and a side event, Reconnecting Families: Crisis, Displacement and Resilience, co-hosted by Australian Red Cross.

As well, the conference's Council of Delegates adopted the Movement Statement on Migration. Co- sponsored by over 44 Red Cross national societies, from across the world, it focuses on ensuring Red Cross' responsibly to support vulnerable migrants was at front and centre of discussions at the conference.