UNITED NATIONS – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that showing solidarity with migrants is more important than ever in his message on International Migrants Day, marked annually on December 18.

“Solidarity with migrants has never been more urgent,” said the UN chief, adding that “we need more effective international cooperation and a more compassionate approach to migration”,

Guterres said that “on this International Migrants Day, we recognise the contributions of migrants across the world in the face of many struggles including the Covid-19 pandemic”, Xinhua news agency reported

However, he said that “migrants continue to face widespread stigmatization, inequalities, xenophobia, and racism. Migrant women and girls face heightened risk of gender-based violence and have fewer options to seek support”.

“With borders closed, many migrants are stranded without income or shelter, unable to return home, separated from their families, and with uncertain futures,” Guterres noted.

According to the UN, approximately 281 million people were international migrants in 2020, representing 3.6 per cent of the global population.

The year 2021’s theme for the International Migrants Day is “harnessing the potential of human mobility”.

For the UN chief, the world needs more effective international cooperation and a more compassionate approach to accomplish that goal.

“This means managing borders humanely, fully respecting the human rights and humanitarian needs of everyone and ensuring that migrants are included in national Covid-19 vaccination plans,” he said.

It also means recognizing pathways for regular entry and addressing the drivers of migration, such as deep inequalities and human trafficking.

Next year, the International Migration Review Forum will take stock of progress in implementing the milestone Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

For the UN chief, this “is an opportunity to advance efforts to ensure the full inclusion of migrants as we seek to build more resilient, just and sustainable societies”.

On December 18, 1990, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Each year on December 18, the world body, through the UN-related agency International Organization for Migration, highlights the contributions made by migrants and the challenges they face.