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Anne Richard On International Migration

Bhutanese refugees wait to leave for resettlement abroad at a facility of International Organization for Migration in Nepal.

Migrants in crisis, trafficking in persons, and migration and development were all topics of discussion.

“There are an unprecedented number of migrants living and working outside their country of origin,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne Richard, “and we have seen several situations where, due to conflict or natural disaster, large numbers of migrants have been trapped in crisis situations.” Assistant Secretary Richard made the remarks, in New York City, New York, October 3rd, at the United Nations High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development.

Anne Richard On International Migration
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Assistant Secretary Richard identified three issues the High Level Dialogue could advance: migrants in crisis; trafficking in persons; and migration and development. She applauded the leadership shown by Peter Sutherland, the Secretary General’s Special Representative on International Migration and Development, on the issue of migrants in crisis and his excellent leadership on migration overall.

“I have agreed to help lead an initiative with the Philippines and other interested countries,” said Assistant Secretary Richard, “working closely with the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, and civil society groups – to address the situation of migrants in crisis.”

She noted that the process for this initiative still needs to be engineered, but envisioned a process led by countries aimed at examining the responsibilities of different actors in these crisis situations, perhaps reporting back on progress during the 2014 and 2015 Global Forums on Migration and Development.

Turning to trafficking in persons, a key U.S. priority, Assistant Secretary Richard said our commitment to protect trafficking victims must be affirmed by “increased efforts to identify them among migrant populations and cautioning against conflating them with people who are smuggled or migrate without papers.” Victims should not be penalized as criminals.

"Assistant Secretary Richard urged countries that have not yet ratified and put into practice the Convention against Transnational and Organized Crime and its Protocols to do so."

Assistant Secretary Richard urged countries that have not yet ratified and put into practice the Convention against Transnational and Organized Crime and its Protocols to do so.

Migration and development, said the Assistant Secretary, are extremely broad topics. “We need to begin to narrow our discussions on issues within these topics where there is reliable evidence and a common understanding.”

It is important, now, she said, to focus “on concrete outcomes that can move the migration dialogue forward, rather than on divisive institutional and procedural issues that can do nothing to improve the lives of migrants.” One such concrete outcome that the United States supports is reducing costs associated with sending remittances, which is one of the positive effects of international migration on development.