I come from a family of migrants. In the early 1900s, the British colonial authorities brought both of my great-grandfathers from Utter Pradesh in India to Fiji as indentured labourers. Life was considerably tougher for them than it ever has been for me. I can’t imagine how they and many thousands of others coped working endless hours in the sugarcane fields.
I’m also a migrant. After finishing high school, I was lucky to receive a French government scholarship to study in France. Having trod the migration path myself, I’m keen to debunk the myths that have arisen around the topic. I believe it is a win-win that benefits both origin and destination countries, economically and socially.
Every year, thousands of Fijians leave to take up work in other countries, most leave to secure their own futures but their remittances help communities back home stay afloat. Many of those that leave are skilled professionals, doctors and such like but many are not.
Like many migrants, I have been sending money to my parents ever since I left Fiji. I, therefore, know first-hand how remittances can build human capital and maintain livelihoods back home. In fact, overall, Fiji receives close to USD$ 300 million a year in remittances, making up about six percent of its total GDP.
My personal story convinces me that a broader framework of effective and coherent evidence-based migration policies are needed to harness these benefits. This is why Goal ten of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals focuses on the facilitation of “orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”.
At the ILO I train policymakers on how to use evidence for policy-making, including on migration. We are fully committed to increasing the capacity of workers, employers, and governments to develop fair and effective, evidence-based labour migration frameworks. This is done through better governance of migration, which is promoted through international labour standards, bilateral labour agreements, skills training, and social protection.
Planned and well-managed migration policies mean that, as in my case migration does not have to be a negative story.