18th December 2020
On 4 December 2000, the UN General Assembly (UNGA), taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed 18 December as International Migrants Day.
The day was selected to mark the anniversary of the 1990 adoption by UNGA of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
Migration is as old as human history and reflects a courageous desire to overcome adversity to live a better life. My personal experiences, as a daughter of migrant parents, has taught me just that. Today, globalisation and technological advances have contributed to more people being on the move than ever before. This has created both opportunities and challenges with 258 million international migrants counted globally in 2017, representing 3.4% of the world population.
In Scotland we have a warm tradition of welcoming migrants. Despite this we experienced a period of negative net migration from the 1950s until the late 1980s. However, from the early 2000s, by and in large we have experienced positive net migration. National Records of Scotland (NRS) figures show that in 2017-18 we had net migration of 20,900, increasing to 30,200 in 2018-19. This figure included migration both from overseas and the rest of the UK.
"Migration is a powerful driver of economic growth, dynamism and understanding. It allows millions of people to seek new opportunities, benefiting communities of origin and destination alike." UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Our migrant population provides much needed skills, diversity and financial contribution to our economy and workplaces. The Scottish Government has called for Scotland to be given increased powers to allow it to introduce its own visa and immigration policy. As yet these calls have fallen on deaf ears.
According to the Scottish Government, over the past decade, an estimated 45% of migrants to Scotland from overseas have come from EU countries. Recent estimates suggest that immigration from EU countries to Scotland (and the UK) is decreasing. The UK's departure from the EU, and the uncertainty and hurdles this will bring, has inevitable had an impact. Given our decreasing population, and the challenge of rebuilding our economy post COVID -19, our need to welcome migrants to our shores has never been greater.
In the not so distant past, voluntary organisations and charities marked this day by holding film screenings, culture events, debates and rallies, to not only celebrate the many positive contributions migrants make t0 our communities, but to also build a better understanding of the many sacrifices and challenges they face in their journey to adopt Scotland as their home.
Given current COVID- 19 restrictions, many events have been scaled down or cancelled all together. However, that does not mean we ought to forget, nor does it prevent us from reaching out within our local communities to learn more about our migrant neighbours.
Happy International Migrants Day
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