ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Governments need to realize the benefits of migration and share that vision with the public at large, the International Organization for Migration’s Turkey representative has said.
Dec. 18 marks World Migration Day, which encourages people to advocate human rights, focus on their positive contributions and encourage government action on the issue. This is a “shared responsibility” said International Organization for Migration, or IOM, Chief of Mission for Turkey Meera Sethi.
Research reveals that migrants bring many benefits, especially economic ones, to their new countries, Sethi said.
According to the United States President’s Council of Economic Advisers, the participation of immigrants in the U.S. economy allows native-born Americans to make $37 billion a year.
The IOM head also said migrant workers filled positions in health care and the service industry that many native-born citizens in countries around the world did not want to fill.
According to Sethi, the organization has three priorities, namely supporting migrants, raising public awareness and improving government involvement. The strength of the organization comes from “direct contact” with migrants, she added.
Turkey has many attracting factors for those looking to migrate, Sethi told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. “Turkey is the migration bridge of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. It is on its way to the European Union. It has a more developed economy, and a more stable economy compared to the region.”
Turkey has traditionally been a country of emigration, said Sethi, with large numbers of its citizens migrating since the 1960s to Western Europe, especially Germany.
The country, however, has also been a country of destination for economic migrants, refugees, or asylum seekers, becoming a transit route for irregular migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan, said Sethi.
“Turkey has a small refugee population of 16,000,” said Sethi. “On the other hand, irregular migrants are estimated at over 70,000. Additionally, over 22,000 refugees have been hosted in Turkey and resettled in third countries by the International Organization for Migration since 2004.”
Sethi also said Turkey was classified as a tier-two country by the U.S. on human trafficking, “which means that efforts are ongoing, but more needs to be done.”
According to human trafficking statistics provided by the IOM, the largest volume of victims arrived in Turkey from Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. Nearly 1,000 victims of trafficking have been intercepted by the organization since 2004, she said.
“Migration is here to stay, and the governments need to choose between adopting a ‘high-road’ or a ‘low-road’ scenario,” said Sethi.
The ‘low-road’ scenario is based on stereotypes, fear, and short term political expediency. The ‘high-road’ scenario, on the other hand, is based on recognizing the contribution of immigrants to the economy,” she said