"Toxic narrative" needs to change says top migration official

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Displaced Syrians who fled the besieged city of Raqqa arrive in Ein Issa camp in north-east Syria. Photo: UNHCR/Bassam Diab

Changing the "toxic narrative" about migration is crucial as the international community negotiates the first ever global agreement on human mobility.

That's according to the Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), William Lacy Swing, who on Tuesday addressed dozens of migration experts and representatives of Arab governments.

They are currently gathered at the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in Beirut, Lebanon.

Stephanie Coutrix is there.

Migration is the human face of globalization and it's here to stay, said William Lacy Swing at the opening of a two-day meeting on international migration in the Arab Region, where an estimated 35 million people are migrants.

Mr Swing was highlighting the importance of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which the international community is currently negotiating.

He stressed the urgent need to replace all "toxic" falsehoods about migration, fuelled by xenophobia, with historical facts.

"I gave one statistic this morning—that 3.5 per cent of the world [population] are international migrants but they produce 9 per cent of the world's global domestic product and that is 4 per cent more than they would have produced if they had stayed at home. All countries like my own, the US for example, know that our countries were built on the backs of migrants and with their brains so that's all important. Secondly, it's important to let the migrants themselves tell their own story because they will tell you how much they have gained by making the migratory journey."

As more and more people continue to be on the move, key discussions are also focusing on ways to ensure that their human rights are protected throughout their migratory cycle.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1'20"

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