VIENNA, Austria, CMC – A senior official of the International Office for Migration (IOM) is calling on Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments to rethink their position that migrants are putting social services in their countries under strain.
“Migration benefits everyone … If you find ways for people to move in a regular fashion it actually brings productive resources and money to the countries involved,” said IOM’s HIV and Health Promotions Coordinator, Rosilyne Borland.
She told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that her organisation has been involved in several campaigns trying to debunk the myth that migrants were carriers of diseases and “that they are breaking our social services”.
“Our research has shown that migrants often under use services because they are afraid to be deported or mistreated especially in situations where they know that they are being discriminated against or where
there is heavy xenophobia.”
She said the research has also shown that people who migrate tend to be young and strong and in most cases are looking for work
Borland, who is attending the 18th International Conference (AIDS 2010) here, said there is also a symbiotic relationship between the migrant and the host country.
“Remittances are now three times official development aid, that’s all the HIV funding plus all the other development funding … is what our migrants are sending back to their friends, loved ones and families.
“So we know countries benefit from migrants, we also know many countries need migrants because of aging populations or they have sectors where the local people are not working. So rather than having
these hard-line policies which forces migrants to move in ways which puts them at risks, we advocate for ways that will be safe for everyone,” she added.
In recent months, some regional countries have been complaining about the illegal movement of Caribbean nationals and have sought to implement measures to deal with the situation.
Borland said it is a fact that migrants face risk after migrating and in some instances become infected with the HIV virus in the country where they eventually reside.
“Sometime they are trading sex for survival, so we look at all those situations and fight for the migrants’ rights to access care and services,” she said, adding that the IOM is actively working in Haiti assisting in coordinating the temporary camps for residents who were affected by the January 12 earthquake.