February 28, 2019
Engaging youth as key partners in migration governance

Statement by the Very Rev. Mons. Antoine Camilleri
Under-Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See
International Dialogue on Migration

Youth and migration:
Engaging youth as key partners in migration governance
Panel 1: Understanding youth migration, beyond facts and figures

New York, 28 February 2019

Distinguished panelists,

Young people must be valued and supported if they are to grow and contribute to the world they will inherit. This is true for any young person, but even more so for migrant youth who look for and depend upon the solidarity of strangers and new, unfamiliar communities in foreign lands. Youth have much to give, but they cannot give without having opportunities, access to quality education, decent work, health-care, and those rights that States are obligated to protect and fulfill, whether in countries of origin, transit or destination.

Such a commitment is reflected not only in the 2030 Agenda, but also in the spirit of the recently adopted Global Compact for Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees. It is also a commitment that the International Dialogue on Migration has chosen to focus its attention on today, at a moment when the world’s youth are sometimes an afterthought and often are the first to be left behind.

Distinguished panelists,

Migrant youth are a critical part of the migrant community, especially in developing countries. In fact, data show that youth, in particular those between the ages of 18 and 29, are some of the most mobile. They move for all sorts of reasons. Many leave to seek better opportunities, greater security, higher education, or to reunite with their families. Sadly, however, the majority is often forced to leave home and country due to conflict and extreme poverty.

Among those who are forced to emigrate because of the burden of poverty, girls are affected in very specific ways. My Delegation wishes to call your attention to their fate, as they are lured by relatives and friends with the dream of a better life and end up in the violence and abuse associated with crossing borders and as a prey to traffickers. States should prevent such a loss of young lives through the adoption of laws, national action plans and policies aimed at ensuring the enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to education, health, social security, land, property, inheritance, employment, participation and decision-making in all spheres of life. These are facilitated through greater recognition of their skills and credentials, also for their full integration into the labour force.

The vulnerabilities of young migrants to human trafficking and smuggling and other abuses can be significantly reduced through the establishment of regular pathways for migration. Unfortunately, not enough of these corridors exist. Let us engage the youth themselves as key partners in finding more alternative and regular pathways of migration for them for the benefit of all.

Distinguished delegates,

The United Nations General Assembly recently endorsed the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration adopted in Marrakech, Morocco this past December. The Compact builds on the 2030 Agenda and provides concrete steps that address the root causes and drivers of migration, while promoting a number of best practices that enhance cooperation and maximize its many benefits.

As Pope Francis said after its adoption, it is his “hope that thanks to this instrument too, [the international community] will be able to work with responsibility, solidarity and compassion toward those who, for various reasons, have left their own country”.[1] In the coming years, and in particular through the creation of the Intergovernmental Migration Review Forum, States will have the opportunity to improve global migration governance through the implementation of the Compact, providing migrant youth with the solidarity they deserve, solidarity not only in countries of destination but also in countries of transit and origin.

I thank you.

1. Pope Francis, Angelus address, 16 December 2018.