December 14, 2020

A Reflection on International Migrants Day - December 18

The IOM World Migration Report 2020 states that in 2019, that there were 272 million migrants globally, which is about 3.5% of the world’s population[1].  Often those with an experience of migration are leaving behind family, friends, a community, a known set of cultural norms and rituals. This departure comes with the knowledge that they may never see these people again or that their journey will be filled with danger and uncertainty.

2020, with all its challenges has illuminated several points. I think for the first time the global community have experienced a collective deep shift in our daily lives, disrupting our ability to visit with or see loved ones or important people in our lives. It has deeply impacted our ability to travel or move around the globe safely. There are many unknowns we collectively do not know.

I think there are quite a few parallels to draw from the experience of the pandemic and those of the millions of migrants fleeing political persecution, economic instability, violence and unrest. 2020 is also a year which has illuminated how important compassion and empathy are. Below are a few simple question prompts to guide your thinking and feeling around some links between the pandemic’s impact on our daily lives and how that may paint a small window into the experience of migration.

  • When was the last time I saw someone I deeply cared about? If the pandemic has impacted how you interact with this person, how has that felt? If you didn’t know the next time you would see this person, how would that make you feel?
  • Has the pandemic impacted your ability to travel or visit important places or people in your life? Does traveling feel more dangerous or uncertain now?
  • Has it impacted your economic circumstances? Has the pandemic made you feel more vulnerable in public spaces?

On reflecting on these questions, may we all find ways to draw on our empathy and deeper understanding of those who are migrants and refugees. As we all hold the uncertainty and difficulty that has come with this global pandemic, may we also find space to advocate for and ensure that migrants are welcomed along their journeys and final destinations. After all, they deserve all of the same basic rights and freedoms enjoyed by the citizens of the communities and countries they find themselves in.

—Anneke Kat, Mercy Global Action Emerging Leaders Fellow

Messages to: Cecilie Kern -Global Policy & Research Advocate MIA-MGA


[1] World Migration Report 2020. International Organization for Migration: Geneva, 2020. Accessed December 4, 2020,

Mercy International Association - Mercy Global Action is co-sponsoring an event on International Migrant’s Day, “Welcoming People on the Move,” along with the Society of the Sacred Heart, the NGO Committee on Migration, and the Justice Coalition of Religious. Cecilie Kern from MIA-MGA will be a panelist, speaking on civil society collaboration and advocacy at the United Nations related to migration. The event will take place on Friday, 18 December 2020, from 9:00-10:30 AM EST. (Find out your local time here).
There will be simultaneous interpretation in English, Spanish and French.

Download the flyer Download the concept note here Register your attendance here
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