Throughout human history, migration has been a courageous expression of the individual’s will to overcome adversity and to live a better life. Today, globalization, together with advances in communications and transportation, has greatly increased the number of people, who have the desire and the capacity to move to other places.
There are over 1.4 million displaced people residing in Uganda, hundreds of refugee organization, communities, and individuals working to support one another, especially in times of COVID-19.
Migrants contribute their knowledge, networks, and skills to build stronger, more resilient communities. During the past months, migrants have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. Their work in health, transportation and food services made our lives under lockdown more bearable.
However, like many who find themselves living on the margins of society, migrants are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 through job losses, evictions and discrimination. Millions of migrants are stranded, often without income or shelter, unable to return home due to COVID-19 mobility restrictions, and they also face increased risks of trafficking and exploitation.
The pandemic cannot be used as an excuse to rollback commitments to promote and protect the rights of migrants regardless of their legal status. It cannot become an excuse for the increased use of detention, often in overcrowded conditions, and the forced return of migrants to their countries of origin without due process, in many cases in violation of international law.
People on the move hope for a brighter future. It is our collective responsibility to create a safer, more resilient world.
Migration should be a choice, not a necessity.
On #MigrantsDay, let’s reaffirm our commitment to safe and dignified migration for all.
The above photo is the entrance of the Kyaka II Refugee Settlement in Kyegegwa District, one of the largest refugee settlements in Uganda which hosts a large numbers of Congolese refugees and some Rwandan refugees.