by Elie-Joe Dergham

According to the Oxford dictionary, migration is the movement of people to a new area or country in order to find work or better living conditionsThroughout history, there were many examples of mass migration of cultures. Whether for economic or social purposes, people migrated and moved from country to country or from continent to continent. According to the National Geographic Society, there are two main types of migration. The main types are internal and international migration. One main example of mass internal migration is Great Northern Migration. Millions of African Americans migrated from southern states up to northern states. This internal migration was caused due to the improved freedoms in the northern states for African Americans. One prime example of international migration is the Lebanese migration to Europe, North and South America. This mass migration was due to the dire economic conditions after the First World War and Lebanese Civil War. Migration has played an important part in history. Recently, mass migration of populations from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq have highlighted this issue on the international stage and the United Nation have moved in order to help member nations organize migration. With a clear lack of direction available to governments on what to do, the United Nations held a meeting to address how member nations could respond. 

Migration is caused by several factors. One of the most common factors that cause migration is natural disasters. Disasters such as droughts, earthquakes, hurricanes, and flooding. One of the most recent examples of migration caused by natural disasters is the Haitian earthquake. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Port Au Prince in 2010. This earthquake caused the migration of over 600,000 thousand Haitians to nearby countries. This had a major effect on all countries involved. Another cause for mass migration is a disease. When an outbreak of disease occurs, many people flee the area of the outbreak to nearby areas and countries. The last major factor for mass migration are conflicts around the world. Syrian and Iraqi conflicts have highlighted the effect of war on the migration. More recently, the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar caused over half a million of the country’s Muslim population fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh in the wake of violence and ethnic cleansing. These factors have been increasing over the past years. This has caused migration to be a dividing issue among nations of the world. United Nations moved to put a framework in place in order to tackle this issue. The UN’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration marks the first time the world body has agreed on a list of global measures to tackle the risks and challenges involved in migration for individual migrants, and at the same time to maximize benefits for the countries taking in immigrants. This agreement started in September 2016 when 193 countries met in order to tackle the refugee and migration issue. This agreement is made of 23 objectives for better managing the local, national, regional, and global levels. This agreement aims to decrease the risk and vulnerabilities migrants face during the migration process by respecting, protecting and fulfilling their human rights and providing them with care and assistance. Secondly, the agreement aims to alleviate the main factors that make people halt from building and maintaining sustainable livelihoods in their countries of originAdditionally, the agreement pursues to address the genuine concern of nations and communities, while identifying that communities are undergoing demographic, economic, social and environmental changes at different scales that may have implications for and result from migration. Finally, the agreement motivates to produce conditions that enable all migrants to empower our societies through several capacities. This would ease their contributions in order to make the migrants develop at all levels. This agreement was reached after two years of intense negotiations. This agreement is non-binding agreement to all member nation. This agreement represented a small victory for the millions of migrates around the world. However, there are many experts that find that this agreement is still insufficient to tackle this problem. Furthermore, many countries did not participate and pulled out in the final draft of the agreement. Countries like the United States, Austria, Hungry, Switzerland, Australia, and several others rejected the agreement outright. These countries stated that this agreement would surrender part of their sovereignty. This agreement was passed in December 2018. It represents a cornerstone for future agreements for refugees. The debate on how to deal with refugees still continues to this day; however, this agreement would help hosting countries to cope with this growing issue. This is only a small solution to a growing issue that might shape the future for generations to come.

05 February 2019
This text was published in Bullseye issue 75