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A.I. Sow: Statement on the International Day of Families 2010

Symposium in Celebration of the United Nations International Day of Families on
"The Impact of Migration on Families Around the World"
UN Headquarters in New York, May 17, 2010

2010 marks the seventeenth anniversary of the Declaration of the International Day of Families by the United Nations General Assembly and provides the right opportunity to promote awareness of migration as a critical issue affecting families, especially at this
time of global financial, economic and climate change crises. Building upon many reports and independent studies released by United Nations Organizations and agencies, we know better today who migrants are, where they come from and go to, and why they move.

New findings, like the ones coming from the Human Development Report of 2009 entitled "Overcoming Barriers: Human Mobility and Development" highlighted the multiple and complex linkages between migration and family life. According to surveys,
the impact of migration goes well beyond those who migrate, as it affects their communities of origin and, in particular, family members left behind. Some misconceptions are challenged by accurate data showing that:

-More people move internally than across borders, with the number of internal migrants estimated at 740 million.
- The number of international migrants has more than doubled since the 1960s and is currently an estimated 214 million.

In general, most migrants, internal and international, move on their own will to better-off places. They likely gain higher incomes, better access to education and health, and are able to improve prospects for their children.

- An estimated 14 million refugees live outside their countries of origin, representing about 7 percent of the world's migrants. Displaced as a result of conflicts and lack of security and opportunities, these people face special challenges.
- Much more numerous than international refugees, some 26 million people are internally displaced. In a country driven by conflict, instability or racked by natural disasters, they face numerous threats.
-There are also certain vulnerable groups that mainly consist of women and children who have been victims of trafficking and different types of abuse.
-Nowadays, barriers to mobility are rising, especially for illegal immigrants and people with low skills. An estimated 50 million people are living and working abroad with irregular status. They face a high risk of crime, discrimination, humiliation, lack of access
to social services and unemployment, particularly in a period burdened by the most severe economic crisis in over half a century.

Based on the context above mentioned, our present symposium must focus on identifying special policies, measures and plans instrumental to providing better living conditions and opportunities to migrants and supporting their families at national, regional, and international levels.

By convening this meeting, Universal Peace Federation deserves our special thanks and gratitude. It is my hope that all participants would take an in-depth look at various aspects of the impact of migration on families, in order to contribute to an international response regarding the challenges they are facing.

I am also confident that the UPF Declaration on Families adopted on May 15 will inspire us to promote the United Nations goal aimed at insuring an action-oriented follow-up in the field of the family, and toward the accomplishment of the MDGs.

To this end, a special attention should be paid to UPF recommendations regarding notably:

1. The family as a central building block of society and microcosm of the global community.
2. The universality of the family: we are all members of families regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality and religious affiliations.
3. The decline of its youth, the increase in crime, drug abuse and corruption, as well as the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
4. Restoring the role of the family in addressing the proliferation of social, economic, cultural and political problems plaguing the world.

I hope that our productive discussions and exchange of views will play a positive role in the advocacy, promotion and support of families in performing their societal and developmental functions.