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Director of UN Migration Organization says Europeans MUST change the negative perception about migrants

The General Director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that “the European-wide perception that we are dealing with an invasion from the South to North is far from reality”

The negative perception that the public has of the migrants is one of the main problems that the International Organization of the Migrations faces today, affirmed this Monday its president, António Vitorino, assuring that the reality is very different.

“We must deal with the perception that we are witnessing an invasion,” António Vitorino said at the conference “Perspectives on Migration: Political Action and Civic Engagement – Portuguese-German Forum” (Perspectives on Migrations: Political Action and Civic Engagement – Forum Portugal-Germany), taking place in Lisbon.

According to him, the trend to migrate has been increasing and will continue to grow, with “60 to 70% of migrants illegally crossing borders.”

Mr Vitorino also said that “80% of Africans who migrate do so to another African country” and because of the overwhelming bulk migrate within Africa, demonstrate that “the perception, very felt in Europe, that we are dealing with an invasion from the South to North is very far from the reality,” he added.

The North of the planet faces the same difficulties regarding the migration waves as the South, António Vitorino said, recalling the serious problems in this area faced by countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, Mexico or Venezuela.

The feeling of rejection towards migration that has spread throught the whole World comes from two factors according to mister Vitorino: 9/11 in the United States, which led people to associate migration with terrorism (completely ignoring the wave of terrorist attacks that started in 2015 with Charlie Hebdo), and the wave of migrants of 2015, when “only” Germany received about one million people.

“In the 1990s we also had about one million people migrating to Europe because of the breakup of Yugoslavia,” and at the time the reaction “was completely different,” he recalled.

“What was different is that right or wrong, public opinion has realized that governments have lost control,” he explained.

According to him, the change in this perception will depend very much on the forces that are in the European Parliament after the elections and on the example given by moderate countries towards migrants, such as Portugal and Germany (who intend to keep on receiving migrants and “refugees”), Vitorino argued, urging politicians to stop “being shy” [against taking them in] since “fundamental principles and values are at stake.”

 

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