Together in NY - International Migrants Day Celebrations

New York - 18th December 2017

In celebration of International Migrants Day, IOM organized a special series of events at UNICEF’s house and the United Nations in New York on 18th December 2017 showcasing the contributions and stories of people on the move.

The events and celebrations encompassed high-level panel discussions, UNPACKED Refugee Baggage Art Installation with Virtual Reality experience and the closing of IOM’s Second Global Migration Film Festival. The day also marked the launch of the TOGETHER app and podcast, IOM’s MigApp and the Migration Governance Indicators (MGI) in New York. In attendance was the United Nation’s Secretary- General, Mr. António Guterres, President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák,  IOM Director General, Mr. William Lacy Swing, UNICEF Executive Director, Mr. Anthony Lake , Academy Award Winners Vanessa Redgrave and Liam Neeson,  UNPACKED Refugee artists Mohamad Hafez, IOM Youth Champion, Ahmed Badr and many migrant voices.

The high-level segment in celebration of International Migrants Day was opened by UNICEF ED Lake and IOM DG Swing.  The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres warned against the distortion of migration by various actors.  The SG stressed the real positive aspects of migration and urged the need for migration to be discussed seriously and collaboratively. The United Nations President of the General Assembly, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák underscored the importance of the Global Compact of Migration in setting out the framework for safe migration.

IOM DG opened the first event “Putting migrants’ children rights upfront: challenges and duties in protecting the human rights of children in the context of international migration” to a packed audience. DG Swing urged for greater protection of children on the move.

Screening of The Global Migration Film Festival’s Official Selection movie Sea Sorrows directed by  Academy Award Winner, Ms. Vanessa Redgrave was attended by Liam Neeson, UNICEF Director Mr. Anthony Lake, USG for Global Communications, Ms. Alison Smale. On being an advocate for the protection of migrants rights, Ms. Redgrave remarked that “if you’ve been to where it’s happening, that’s become part of you. You can’t forget it”. International Migrant’s day put an important focus and discussion on how films and art can change the conversation about migration. The event’s art installation with virtual reality, UNPACKED: Changing the perceptions of migrants and refugees spoke to this.

International Migrants Day celebration in New York concluded with a panel titled “Safe migration in a world on the move “moderated by IOM Director of Communications Leonard Doyle. The panel included IOM DG, Mr. Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Director of Programmes, Ms. Eva Akerman-Borje from the office of the SRSG for International Migration, the Permanent Representative of Switzerland H.E. Jürg Lauber plus Migrant Activist Ms. Tolu Olubunmi. The panellist addressed the pressing issue of the negative narrative around migration in the world of today and what can be done so this narrative doesn’t win. 

Parallel to International Migrants Day events at UNICEF HQ, IOM organized another event at the United Nations HQ  to launch the World Migration Report 2018 in New York.  The Side- Event entitled  “Demystifying migration: Launch of the World Migration Report (WMR) 2018 and Migration Governance Indicators (MGI)”, was sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Portugal and Bangladesh to the United Nations. In his key note speech, IOM DG Swing underscored the importance of data in informing policy-making so that migration can be safe, orderly and regular.

United Nation Secretary- General, Mr. António Guterres                                                                                                                                                            Photo © UNDPI 2017 


The acclaimed art installation UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage and Global Migration Film Festival opened for one month at UNICEF House on 5 December in New York.

UNPACKED showcases testimonies of refugees resettled in the US. These testimonies tell their struggles and triumphs using suitcases; a testament to their resilience and powerful journeys.

The exhibition also inspires viewers to redefine and expand the meaning of the word refugee. This year, the awards ceremony was hosted by Ahmed Badr, a young writer, poet, social entrepreneur and former refugee from Iraq.

Photos © IOM- UN Migration 2017/ Abdirahman Olow