Respect Migrants' Communications Rights, Ecumenical Body Says

A call to respect the communication rights of migrants, especially those displaced by the effects of climate change, was issued on Friday by an ecumenical communications body to mark the UN adopted International Migrants Day.

The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) said in a statement that the ending of the UN's climate change summit in Copenhagen is a reminder that an estimated 25 million people around the around the world have been forcefully displaced from their homelands and communities due to environmental circumstances.

During their transitional journey, the migrants often face repeated violation of their human rights, especially their communications rights, the WACC reported.

"Migrants – especially the undocumented – are deprived of their communication rights. In many countries, they are treated like criminals and their basic rights are not recognized. Worse, they are under threat of arrest, detention and deportation as in different countries of the European Union due to the recently approved EU Return Directive Policy, as well as the continuing crackdowns in South Korea, Malaysia and Japan," said Ramon Bultron, director of Hong-Kong based Asia Pacific Migrants Mission, a partner of WACC.

People who migrate due to environmental circumstances make up around 25 percent of the world's 1 billion immigrants, according to sources, with most migration of this type occurring within people's home countries.

According to Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM), recent trends of this movement have been seen in Asian countries where rural-urban migration has increased due to the destruction of agriculture caused by recurrent floods.

Slower moving factors such as drought have affected African countries such as Mali, which has seen a steady flow of movement from the country's north to its south and regionally towards the coastal areas of West Africa. The IOM says that such movement alleviates stress on one fragile eco-system but transfers it to another.

"Climate change, demographic trends and globalization all point to more migration in the future," IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said in a statement. "This means that the well-being of even more people and communities will be subject to our ability to manage migration in a way that increases the benefits and opportunities and reduces suffering."

"The effects of climate change will be an increasingly important variable in this equation. We need to think ahead and plan for change; we need to come up with integrated solutions that link migration and climate change adaptation; and we need to be prepared to respond to the humanitarian challenges that climate change is already posing today," Swing concluded.

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