Speech of Director General of IOM António Vitorino at the NAM Contact Group Summit in response to COVID-19
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, I would like to, first of all, congratulate H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan for the remarkable work since Azerbaijan assumed the Chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and particularly for convening this in-person meeting in response to COVID-19 on Post-Pandemic Global Recovery.
Excellencies, the impacts of COVID-19 are still deeply felt across the world. Migrants and displaced populations were faced with limited mobility opportunities due to border restrictions, leaving millions stranded, often without work or support, unable to access social benefits or critical healthcare. Just as global inequality has increased since 2020, the pandemic has exacerbated structural inequalities for migrants, hindering their protection and inclusion in the societies where they live.
The pandemic, as in other times of crisis, has increased vulnerabilities and created new opportunities for the exploitation of migrants and other vulnerable groups. While the pandemic brought a spotlight to the essential work that migrants undertake in our societies, often in precarious situations, it has aggravated pre-existing vulnerabilities.
While millions of migrants and displaced persons have been included in national vaccination campaigns, far too many have been left behind. It is often the poorest, including those who find themselves in irregular situations, or those displaced by natural disaster or conflict, who lack equitable access to such services. As of today, around one-third of the world’s population is still to receive a single COVID-19 vaccination, predominantly in low- and middle-income countries.
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, the pandemic has highlighted our dependence on human mobility, as well as the importance of migrant workers as an essential part of the workforce and contributors to economic development. The resumption of robust and predictable international mobility systems can help governments and societies can mitigate, and recover from, the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, alongside measures to promote inclusive and sustainable development. Recognizing the challenges which persist in terms of equitable access to cross-border mobility, IOM is working with Member States to establish an ad-hoc Working Group on Human Mobility within Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response to better identify lessons learned, and more importantly, establish common actions to prepare for future shocks.
As we recover from the worst effects of the pandemic, we need to take into account the multi-dimensional nature of the challenges in front of us today – including the direct and indirect effects of conflicts worldwide, growing food insecurity, and the impacts of climate change for people on the move. Excellencies, IOM prides itself on its agility; its ability to pivot to new crises and respond to the changes we see on the ground each day. IOM is committed to working with the Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement to overcome these challenges and ensure that robust mechanisms are put in place for better global cooperation and solidarity among the international community.