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Group seeks safety, dignity

Repeka Nasiko
Thursday, November 09, 2017

SOME Pacific civil society organisations have strongly endorsed the dignity of safe, orderly and regular migration of people into and from the region.

At the end of the first Civil Society Organisation Dialogue on Migration held in the Pacific, the NGOs highlighted the importance of the United Nations Global Compact on Migration in the region.

In a joint statement, the participants at the inaugural discussions held in Nadi last week agreed on three main points that all regional bodies needed to focus on.

One of the key points was the joint agreement for the adoption of Pacific action priorities.

"Historical legacies of colonisation shaped our first waves of forced migration, including blackbirding, nuclear testing, militarisation and illegal occupations of indigenous lands," a statement from the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organisations stated.

"The Global Compact on Migration must acknowledge that the first step in resolution of our historic legacies requires the global community to recognise root causes, which further perpetuate global ideologies of neo-liberalism and capitalism resulting in genocide of our most vulnerable.

"Through the recognition and resolution of historical legacies, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have the potential to offer solutions toward safe, regular and orderly migration while maintaining sovereignty and indigenous rights."

The group reiterated the importance of human rights or migrants.

"Human rights are sacrosanct and likewise, firm protections for the safety, dignity and fundamental freedoms of all Pacific migrants at all times, entering and exiting the region," it said.

"Several key issues include seasonal workers, contractual violations, no social security, exploitative placements, gender inequalities, low pay and privatisation of public services and commodification.

"We strongly emphasise protection against smuggling and trafficking of persons, including vulnerable unaccompanied minors and women, forced labour and contemporary forms of slavery.

"We rail against all forms of discrimination and intolerance and support social cohesion and inclusion of marginal communities such as persons with disabilities and the LGBQTI."

The regional body recognised climate change as a catalyst for migration and called on regional governments to prioritise the global phenomenon.

"Climate change induced migration is a critical concern for Pacific Island countries," it said.

"It poses existential threats such as loss of land due to coastal erosion and flooding, self-determination, loss of access to water and compromised food sovereignty and the uprooting and displacement of Pacific people who are spiritually and culturally connected to their land and sea.

"This is reflected in the burial of umbilical cords in the land and the birth rights of Pacific people that signify the deep relationship they have with the land and ocean.

"Pacific Island governments need to prioritise climate change induced migration and to push for its recognition and inclusion in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration," said PIANGO.

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