The Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with the support of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office have just concluded a series of events to recognize and celebrate International Migrants Day 2023.
A panel discussion dubbed “CONVERSATIONS on Migration in the Caribbean: Engaging Migrants” held on Friday, December 15, created the space for migrant panelists with roots in Dominica, Syria, and the Dominican Republic to share their experiences. The audience included government officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Labour, United Nations representatives, and civil society.
Other activities to recognize International Migrants Day included a multi-cultural family fun fair called “Nations and Celebrations” which provided a space for migrant communities from diverse origins to showcase their foods, music, and other unique ways of celebrating festivities.
While in Antigua, the IOM team also took the opportunity to engage with the public via the media regarding the importance of International Migrants Day, and to meet with key stakeholders that expressed interest in contributing to future activities that would seek to recognize and harness the potential of migrants as active contributors to sustainable development.
In his Opening Remarks at the panel discussion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Agriculture and Barbuda Affairs, E.P. Chet Greene emphasized that the twin-island State has a history of being welcoming to migrants. s a nation our migration legacy has always been one of welcoming others to our shores whether it be due to economic hardship, natural disasters or even benign reasons of tourism and investment. Whatever the reasons, migrants have always been welcomed, and in many instances, incentivized to become fully fledged and productive members of our society […] since we recognize that the national well-being can only be realized by the combined efforts of all our residents, regardless of their country or origin.”
The panelists all shared their experiences as migrants in Antigua, which has become their second home. Coordinator of IOM’s Office in the Caribbean, Patrice Quesada moderated the discussion. He reflected on some of the significant common messages that he received, “What they were basically saying is that education, Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals has been one of the most important enablers and to then contribute to the development of the country. But at the same time, we also feel that there are stereotypes. We also feel that there is a certain level of discrimination that some migrants, certain nationalities are facing more than others.”
UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Didier Trebucq recognized that “Migration, when approached strategically, can significantly contribute to regional prosperity. And to be effective, it is also essential to develop campaigns to address stigma, enhance inclusion and tolerance.”
The activities of the past weekend have inspired renewed vigor within the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, IOM and other UN agencies, as well as migrant organizations, civil society and the private sector, to work together intentionally, with a joint objective of fostering inclusive policies that empower migrants and create a thriving and diverse society in Antigua and Barbuda.
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