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Opening remarks by Gyorgy Sziraczki, Director, ILO Country Office for Viet Nam at the occasion of International Migrants Day

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Date:     17 December 2013
Event:   International Migrants Day
Venue:  Phu To, Electricity College

Good morning.

I am very glad to be at this event to commemorate the International Migrants Day. This day marks an occasion to recognize the courage it takes for migrants to leave their homes in search of decent work; to recognize the contribution made by millions of migrants to the economies and societies of their host countries and their home countries; and to re-commit our efforts to better protect migrants’ human rights and fundamental labour rights.

In 2013, the number of international migrants worldwide reached 232 million. Half of those are migrant workers. Half of those are women. The number of migrants is predicted to continue to grow due to economic and demographic disparities, climate change and conflict, and greater inter-connectedness between countries and regions. Women and men migrants are needed to fill labour market niches – both in low-skilled and high-skilled jobs.

There is widespread acknowledgement and evidence that migration is a positive phenomenon, drawing benefits to the countries of origin and destination, and the migrants themselves. Many migrants are in productive jobs, have positive experiences and are able to save money to send back to their families.

However, migrants – and particularly low-skilled migrants – face a number of risks. They are sometimes charged high recruitment fees that force them into debt. They often undertake hazardous journeys to avoid the attention of the authorities. Migrants are often employed in conditions that violate labour laws, and sometimes subject to discrimination, exploitation, harassment and even human trafficking.

Given the global nature of these challenges, the UN General Assembly convened a High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in New York in October 2013. Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, put forward an eight-point agenda for action to “make migration work” for all: for migrants, societies of origin and societies of destination alike.

Every year, thousands of migrant workers from Viet Nam go to work abroad. Many of these are from Phu Tho Province. I am sure that many here today from Thanh Ba (or Phu Ninh in case of Phu Ninh) district have family members, relatives, friends or neighbours working abroad. Vietnamese migrant workers contribute significantly to the growth and development in both their host and home countries but lack of awareness can put them in danger.

Alongside other initiatives to protect migrant workers in Phu Tho, organizing this exchange programme shows the commitment of those present today (DOLISA, Police, local authorities, banks, recruitment agencies and migrant workers) and the commitment of the Youth Union and local authorities in promoting migrant workers’ access to reliable and up-to-date information on migration. Providing this information increases the likelihood of benefits from migrant work flowing to the migrants, their families and to their nation.

We celebrate the International Migrants Day to recognize the efforts, contributions and rights of migrants worldwide. Today, let us all think of something we can do as individuals to enhance protection for migrant workers, however small, and pledge we will take action. We share a collective goal to ensure migrant workers are protected and more migrant workers have access to productive employment and decent work.  

I hope that this is just the beginning of a learning process. Please visit migration resource centre (MRC) at Phu Tho Employment Service Centre, to get more information and support if you want to migrate safely and legally. We at the ILO, and through the GMS TRIANGLE project, support these MRCs because we believe that the best person to protect a migrant worker is often themselves, through learning and knowledge. The MRCs provide hubs of information so that potential migrant workers can become active in their own protection by learning about recruitment processes, costs, contracts, living and working conditions abroad and places to turn for support.

On this occasion, I would like to thank Ho Chi Minh Central Youth Union, Phu Tho Youth Union and partners, and the MTV EXIT Foundation for your collaboration and support in organizing this event.  

Wishing you all success today during the exchange programme.

Thank you