UN Migration Agency (IOM) Celebrates International Migrants Day 2017

Cairo, 16 December – To honour the over 1 billion migrants around the world, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) held a community event on Saturday to mark the International Migrants Day 2017 and celebrate the positive contributions of migrants to both their host communities and communities of origin. This day was also an occasion to remember and commemorate the migrants who lost their lives on their journey in search of a better life.

Organised in collaboration with Tadamon, the Egyptian Refugee Multicultural Council, it was attended by more than 1,200 migrants from South Sudan, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Syria, as well as by Egyptians and many more nationalities.

The event aimed at promoting social cohesion among different communities in Egypt.  Under the motto #OneCommunity, the day had a vivid atmosphere and great engagement because of age, origin or gender. The event featured live music and dance performances from migrants, including the renowned AfriCairo, in addition to an IOM-sponsored food fair, showcasing different cuisines, complemented by a generous donation of 2,000 juice packs from Juhayna. Migrant communities showcased their artisanal handicrafts as part of a bazaar that received great attention by attendees.

In parallel to the entertainment, IOM carried out several medical activities. In cooperation with the Faculty of Dentistry of Ain Shams University, dental checks were conducted for almost 300 adults and children. Hypertension checks were also conducted by IOM’s medical team for almost 250 individuals. In addition to a basic first aid session, first aid kits were distributed to 100 families.

“Today we are together witnessing more than 1,000 migrants from all over the world coming together in one space: playing, learning, receiving health checks, being familiarised on gender issues, and exchanging experiences about our culture, food, realities and dreams as One Community… it is basically a reflection of our world in one single space. If one thinks about it, this how we live our lives every day to varying extents”, said Mr Amr Taha, IOM Egypt's Head of Mission.

In anticipation of 2018, which will be the year for Persons with Disabilities in Egypt, IOM collaborated with Al Hassan Foundation, an NGO that works with permanent wheelchair users in Egypt, which provided information on rehabilitation services offered to both Egyptians and migrants. Five additional NGOs – Fard Foundation, Etijah, Caritas, Refugee Egypt and Souryat – participated in the event and disseminated information about the various services they offer to migrants, alongside promoting current volunteer opportunities available with their respective organisations.

Attendees interested in volunteering in Egypt also had the chance to interact with United Nations Volunteers (UNV) who participated in the event to promote volunteerism through activities implemented by various UN agencies.

Finally, the event featured “Feel How Gender Shapes Migration”, an interactive exhibition put together by IOM Egypt and the IOM Gender Coordination Unit to raise awareness on people’s different experiences throughout their migration journey and how their human stories are influenced by their gender. “I found this exhibition very informative, but most importantly it was an opportunity for me to step in the shoes of migrants and feel what they feel. I was particularly struck by Sara’s story. Standing in front of the mannequin while reading her story made me feel the tension from having someone breathing on the back of my neck and I could imagine Sara’s situation in the reception centre where she was hosted”, said a visitor of the exhibition.

This International Migrants Day celebration and activities support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 3 Good Health and Well-Being, 5 Gender Equality, 8 Reduced Inequalities and 17 Partnership for the Goals, and the realization of a “fair, integrated society that is characterized by […] equality in economic and social opportunities” as envisioned in Egypt’s Sustainable Development Strategy: Vision 2030.

For more information, please contact Ms Nourhane Hussein at: Tel: +202-27365140; Email: iomegypt@iom.int.