December 18 is the International Day of Migrants

Saving Migrants’ Lives

The theme of this year’s International Migrants Day on 18 December will be “Saving Migrants’ Lives.” This is an opportunity to draw the world’s attention to the growing problem of migrants dying while trying to reach safety. I’m proud that IOM was the first organization to draw international attention to the global nature of these fatal journeys.

For last year’s International Migrants Day, IOM focused on “Desperation Migration” as a theme and produced the first global estimates of the numbers of migrants dying on the migratory route, whether at sea or on land. Sadly IOM data shows that the numbers are increasing with 2014 the deadliest year on record. Our final figure, when published in December, will likely surpass 5,000, more than twice the 2,378 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 the perceived negative socio-economic impact of migration in terms of cultures and jobs. We urgently need to change the lens through which people view migration and we need your help to do this.

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 the perilous journeys on land and sea. It is unacceptable that anyone fleeing for their life be denied safe haven or rescue. Migrants fleeing war, religious extremism and natural disasters deserve empathy and protection.

Migrants contribute greatly both to countries of origin and their host communities. These new diaspora have 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 is key to countering misconceptions about the real scale and impact of migration. Success stories are also important. In 2014 we encouraged IOM missions to engage more in the world of social media with our #MigrationMeans campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

For 2015, IOM is launching the #MyMigrantHero Campaign. IOM missions are encouraged to identify those who have made a significant contribution to society after migrating abroad. I will invite selected winners to participate on the migrant voices panel of the 2015 IOM Council. This will allow IOM to put a human face on the narrative that migrants contribute positively in the cities and countries where they live across the globe.

2014 Social media campaign
In 2014, IOM’s #MigrationMeans Campaign highlighted thousands of migrant voices from around the world. IOM missions shared photos of migrants on Facebook and Twitter followed by a description of what migration means to the individual involved.


2015 Social Media Campaign
For 2015, IOM will launch a #MyMigrantHero Campaign. IOM missions and the public are encouraged to identify those migrants abroad who have made a significant contribution to society. Details of the campaign will be shared in January 2015.