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For UN’s Experts “migration is not a crisis of capacity. It is a crisis of leadership”

At the United Nations headquarters the Canadian François Crépeau, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants and the Equadorian Francisco Carrion Mena, Chair of the Committee of the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, discussed the current migration crisis, taking a strong stand against past policy of Western Countries (Leggi un altro articolo in italiano)

On Friday, October 23, Mr. Francois Crepeau (Canada), Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and Mr. Francisco Carrion Mena (Ecuador), Chair of the Committee of the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, spoke at the United Nations. The pair discussed the current migration crisis of people fleeing Africa and the Middle East for Europe and America, and took a strong stand. Crepeau criticized the course of action, authorized by the Security Council, to use military ships to stop and confiscate the boats used by traffickers to smuggle migrants. Crepeau and Carrion Mena provided their own resolution methods.

Crepeau explained that there are two main reasons for migration; firstly, “humankind is wired for it” meaning it is in our nature to move towards what is better. Migrants leave home and risk danger in search of safety, jobs, and hope for them and their loved ones. 

Carrion Mena provided a story of his home country, Ecuador, and Spain. He recounted a time when Spain’s economy was booming and Ecuador’s was not. The people of Ecuador left to go to Spain, where they could find work and a better life. Present day, the tables have turned. Spain’s  economy is not as strong while Ecuador is flourishing. Therefore people who had left for Spain are now returning  home, bringing more Spaniards with them. Carrion Mena used this story to further reflect on the natural movements of large amount of people between countries and economies.

Secondly, “borders are porous.” While any politician may not agree to this statement, borders that separate one countries from another mean little when one side is safer than the other. Because of these two natural instincts, Crepeau said that nations need to embrace mobility and open their lands to safe and regulated migration. He argued that this is “not a crisis of capacity. It is a crisis of leadership.”

La Voce asked the speakers about the abuse of human rights of the people who come through Libya on their way to another destination, and the response was simple; if the Mediterranean is closed off immigrants will be left to die in Libya, a country deemed very dangerous for all residents, legal or not. Those people then left their country only to be left to die in an even more dangerous country, with no hope of making it into Europe. 

Crepeau and Carrion Mena say that putting up barriers doesn’t change anything for the better. When barriers are put up, migrants turn to smugglers, which puts them in dangerous situations, opens them up to extortion, and makes them illegal immigrant in their new country. Even in the event that they manage to safely reach their destination, they cannot live the life they seek. Illegal citizenship status limits their opportunity for work, most of them turning to underground labor markets which exploits the human rights. They cannot provide for their family, whether they are with them in the new country, or back in the country they left behind. Barriers do not stop immigration, they “merely divert the flow.” Those people are still going to find a way in, or they will find a way into somewhere else. 

Crepeau and Carrion Mena believe strongly that the way to prevent this tragedy from happening is by encouraging countries to allow for safe and legal immigration by way of easily obtainable visas and safe plane flights. People would be able to safely migrate as they need, and it would benefits the countries through the purchasing of visas and the labor manpower that migrants contribute. It is the most effective way to safely move people across the world. The two scholars also called for the persecution of underground labor markets employers rather than the employees, a measure that will mitigate the occurance of black markets for labor and allow migrants to enter a workforce. 

Crepeau lays down some facts and figures to better explain just how large the crisis is. He claimed that if all the countries of Europe were to slowly take in migrants over a five year period – considering how many people are being displaced annually – than Europe would adopt approx. 500,000 people a year. This intake of citizens is completely within the capabilities of any given European country. Crepeau and Carrion Mena left us with powerful words; “This is a phenomenon with problems, not a problem.” The two urged us to look at this massive migration from a human rights perspective, as each migrant is an individual; each one with a face, a story, a past, and a hopeful future. 

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