International Migrants Day seeks to change stereotypes, focus on diversity

An undated photo of migrant Egyptian construction workers in Amman. (Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The UN General Assembly declared December 18 International Migrants Day, an occasion, the UN Twitter page says, “to celebrate the millions of migrants that are integral members of the societies in which they live and their contributions to both their home and host countries.”اضافة اعلان

This year, the day was held under the theme “More than just migrants”, aiming to alter stereotypes about migrants and to focus on elements of diversity, in light of the increase in the number of migrants around the globe.

In a press release, Secretary General of the Higher Population Council Abla Amawi stressed that HPC aims at highlighting the Global Compact for Migration which provides an effective migration governance framework in light of international cooperation. The framework ensures that the migrants’ rights are protected and that they receive a fair treatment. The GCM emphasizes that migrants and refugees shall enjoy human rights which should be respected, protected, and achieved.

However, number of migrants of Syrian, Egyptian, Palestinian, Iraqi, Yamani, and Libyan nationalities in Jordan reached to 2,720,740, constituting 93.2 of the non-Jordanian residents in Jordan.

According to the council’s statistics, there are about 57 nationalities in Jordan. The 2015 population and housing census showed that among these nationalities, Syrians were the most numerous, counting about 1.3 million, Palestinians numbered about 634,000, Egyptians around 636,000, Iraqis about 131,000, while domestic workers of various nationalities numbered approximately 9,000, according to the permits issued by the Ministry of Labor. Other nationalities constituted 30.6 percent of the population.

Statistics also show that non-Jordanian residents in Jordan formed 4.2 percent of the entire population in 1979, 7.6 percent in 1994, and 30.6 percent in 2015.

Despite the large numbers of migrant workers in Jordan, who may enter the Jordanian labor market, the Workers' House issued a statement demanding, through its “national campaign for the alternative immigration regulation”, the inclusion of migrant workers with social security in all labor sectors, in implementation of the principle of equality and non-discrimination.

Hamada Abu Najma, head of the Workers’ House, told Jordan News: "The campaign's message will be sent this day to the prime minister, the minister of labor, and the director-general of the Social Security Corporation. This campaign includes civil society institutions and labor activists."

The statement calls for the abolition of the kafala system in Jordanian legislation and procedures. Kafala restricts individuals’ basic freedoms, such as freedom of movement and mobility, freedom of assembly, and the right to access services. It may also expose workers to various forms of physical, verbal, sexual, and psychological violence and harassment, and deprive them of social security in most work sectors.

Countering claims that migrant workers take jobs that the 404,105 unemployed Jordanian citizens could, Abu Najma said that these workers' jobs are complementary, and “it is very rare for a migrant to occupy the position of a Jordanian worker”. He also said that employers hire the available labor force, and do not prefer migrant workers over Jordanian workers, as some think.

He added: "The number of Jordanian citizens who hold university degrees is increasing, and therefore their demand for jobs that do not require university degrees is very low. Therefore, those who take these jobs are usually migrant workers of different nationalities. As such, we cannot say that immigrants play a role in increasing the unemployment rate, as they have no direct relation with this matter.”

Abu Najma said that the government is responsible for regulating the labor market and the relation between the private and public sectors in order to reduce unemployment rates among Jordanians, stressing that “the rights of migrant workers as human beings who deserve a decent life must not be forgotten.”

Jordan News unsuccessfully tried to contact the Social Security Corporation for a comment on the matter.

According to the National Population Strategy 2021-2030, which was launched by the HPC in cooperation with the UN Fund, the total ongoing migration rate in Jordan reached 4.1 percent, while the lifestyle migration rate reached 11 percent, Al-Ghad news said.

A report issued by the Economics Studies Center in 2021 and titled “Challenges of female migrants and refugees blending, where are we?”, indicated that the rate of women migrants is globally stable; it reached 45 percent last decade, with one in three refugees being woman.

The report also indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on all human movement, including international migration, due to border lockdowns and instability in international travel.

Recent numbers show that the instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has lowered the number of international migrants by 2 million globally in the middle of 2020.

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