International Migrants Day

When is International Migrants Day?

International Migrants Day is a holiday that recognizes the rights of migrant workers around the world, as well as their families. It was established by the United Nations and continues to gain prevalence in numerous countries. International Migrants Day is celebrated every December 18th.

History

Migrant workers are increasingly placed in the spotlight, but such cases aren’t anything new. Workers have migrated to different regions of the world for centuries. Before Hawai’i was annexed by the United States, migrant workers came by the thousands from parts of Asia to work in the sugarcane fields. This became one of the biggest migrations of the time. Another example in recent history is the migration of workers from Syria looking for better living conditions. For some groups, worker migration can be a sensitive issue based on political, economic and differences.

Despite varying opinions on immigration, the fact is that there is often little protection for migrant workers once they leave their home countries. The United Nations held a convention in 1990 surrounding this issue. Of particular concern was the migrants’ families. International Migrants Day was established in December 2000 out of human rights concerns over migrants and their families. It has been held every December 18th ever since, and has gained popularity as various world governments look for ways to protect these human rights.

Action and Celebration

Awareness and social action are the focal points of International Migrants Day. Human rights is an increasingly prevalent issue, especially in today’s information world where violations are more-known. Migrants around the world continue to take the brave step to leave unsuitable living conditions in pursuit of better work opportunities to take care of their families. Sadly, along their journeys, basic human rights may be violated. This can occur on the part of employers, or even governments. International Migrants Day was created to raise awareness about such issues so societies can take action.

The holiday isn’t completely without celebrations. While not a public holiday, International Migrants Day is recognized by many nations. Communities may hold special events to celebrate histories in culture. Success stories may also be highlighted. Thanks to social media, International Migrants Day is also a hot topic of discussion on the Internet.

Challenges and Controversies

According to the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, 232 million people currently live in regions outside of their birth countries. This includes the Secretary-General himself. With such a valid point, it’s difficult to hold prejudices against immigrants–especially in countries that were originally founded by migrant workers.

Still, the situation is more complex than simply accepting all migrant workers. There are numerous challenges involved in protecting the rights of migrants. Some refuge countries don’t have the resources to offer this type of protection for their own people, let alone migrant workers and their families. The U.N. continues to work to find solutions to protect the human rights of all people, regardless of their status. One of the main purposes of International Migrants Day is to come up with solutions for universal human protection.




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