On International Migrants Day, OSCE PA migration committee head emphasizes contributions of migrants, urges support to overcome COVID-19 challenges

Margareta CederfeltMargareta CederfeltCOPENHAGEN, 18 December 2020 – Marking International Migrants Day, Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration Margareta Cederfelt (Sweden) highlighted the contributions of migrants to society and recalled the difficulties that they face, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. She noted that COVID-19 travel restrictions, border closures and lockdowns have created new challenges for migrants while exacerbating their existing vulnerabilities.

“This year has been tough for all of us, but let us not forget that it has been harder for some than others,” Cederfelt said. “Millions of migrants have been stranded around the world due to mobility restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic. Many others have lost income as sectors such as hospitality, restaurants, transportation and tourism have suffered. As we celebrate International Migrants Day under the theme ‘Reimagining Human Mobility,’ we should remember the migrants who need support in these difficult times.”

Cederfelt noted that the pandemic has also highlighted the valuable contributions of migrants. “Migrants have in many ways made life in the pandemic more bearable, often working on the frontlines to provide food, health care, transportation, and other essential services,” Cederfelt said.

Pointing to troubling situations in a number of countries, Cederfelt urged governments to implement independent and effective human rights monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the fundamental rights of migrants and asylum seekers are upheld, including at the borders of the European Union.

Yesterday, the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration held an online meeting focused on Bosnia and Herzegovina, which included briefings by authorities as well as representatives of inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations working on the ground. Committee members heard from representatives of the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the UN High Commissioner on Refugees representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Danish Refugee Council, and NGOs “SOS Balkanroute” and “Are You Syrious,” a member of the Border Violence Monitoring Network.

Participants discussed the migratory situation in the country, warning of an impending humanitarian crisis due to the planned closure of yet another reception facility without alternative accommodation plans, even as winter is setting in. They stressed the need for urgent action to be taken to accommodate the needs of migrants without proper shelter, as well as pursuing coherent and long-term solutions to managing migration.

Other issues raised included specific protection needs of unaccompanied minors, obstacles in accessing the asylum system, border violence and “pushbacks,” and ongoing work in state capacity building and identifying victims of human trafficking. The priorities of the BiH government were outlined by Saša Kecman, Advisor to the Minister at the Ministry of Security. He explained that the Ministry is working on a number of issues, including improving the entry system, capacity building, and countering irregular migration.

Ad Hoc Committee members expressed concerns about the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, noting that the COVID 19 pandemic has exacerbated tensions and hostility towards migrants. They discussed the challenges of migrants “sleeping rough” and recurrent reports of “pushbacks” along the border between BiH and Croatia, underlining the importance of reinforcing accountability through the establishment of a credible and effective monitoring mechanism with the participation of national human rights institutions as well as civil society to trigger concrete action.

Cederfelt also noted that the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration is planning a field trip to BiH as soon as the conditions permit to hold consultations with a broad range of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders and to see the situation on the ground.

For more on the OSCE PA's migration-related work, please click here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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