Statement of Executive Director on addressing drivers of migration

19 September 2016

Presented by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin to Roundtable 2 - "Addressing drivers of migration, particularly large movements, and highlighting the positive contributions of migrants" - at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants. 

Distinguished Co-Chairs, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour and a pleasure to address this roundtable.

Within the overall framework of the 2030 Agenda and the continued implementation of the ICPD Beyond 2014, UNFPA stands ready to support Member States in implementing the commitments made in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.

The drivers of migration are complex. They are specific to each country, and each individual.

They reflect a basic hope that life will be better in a different place – a hope that often reflects reality, given the stark inequalities in economic opportunity and human rights between countries.

At UNFPA, we are committed to addressing the drivers of migration

  • By advocating for the empowerment of all young people, and working for and with them to expand their life chances and choices at home through better health and a greater voice in decisions that affect them.
  • By expanding our leadership on the demographic dividend and convening our development partners to ensure that young people are empowered, educated and employed, and prepared for and able to contribute to innovation.
  • By supporting women and girls, who make up an increasing proportion of migrants. We must ensure their rights and opportunities at home – including their right to education, the freedom to marry when and whom they choose, to have children when and if they choose, their rights to reproductive health, to be free from gender-based violence and discrimination, and their opportunities for work and leadership.

Second, UNFPA is committed to protecting those in transit

Our humanitarian programmes are protecting women, girls and young people in more than 60 countries today, including economic migrants and those fleeing situations of conflict and environmental crisis. 

Our offices in transit countries are active in the provision of relief and protection to thousands of women and girls, assuring access to sexuality education and information, reproductive health services, family planning, dignity kits, and counsel and emergency care for those subjected to gender-based violence.

Finally, we are committed to improving Data on Migrants

UNFPA will capitalize on its unique relationship with National Statistical Offices around the world to advocate for including the core migration census questions in the 2020 census round, so that we can get more comprehensive data.

And, as a member of the Global Migration Group, we are ready to work more closely with our UN partners to advance innovative data-gathering tools to monitor the movements, composition and needs of migrants – including through non-traditional sources, such as border interviews, aerial surveys and satellite imaging. 

Let me conclude by affirming UNFPA’s commitment to supporting Member States in addressing large movements of refugees and migrants using a gender-responsive, human rights-based approach.

Thank you very much.