The United Nations Development Programme is urging countries to reconsider their approach to migrants and improve their conditions and welfare.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva greets Helen Clark, head of the United Nations Development Programme, whopaid him a courtesy call at the Foreign Ministry yesterday. APICHIT JINAKUL
All governments, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and UN agencies should realise the potential of migrants to advance human development, the UNDP said in its 2009 Human Development Report on "Overcoming Barriers; Human Mobility and Development", which was launched yesterday.
The report proposed six ways to help migrants and allow them to make a contribution to human development.
They included opening up existing entry channels so more workers could migrate lawfully, lowering the transaction costs of migration, and finding solutions which benefit the destination communities and the migrants.
In addition, countries should make it easier for people to move within their own countries, make migration part of national development strategies and ensure basic rights for migrants.
Natural disasters, human rights, democracy, climate change and economic crises, as well as inequality, were the main reasons for people moving from rural areas to cities or across borders, said UNDP administrator Helen Clark during the launch of the report.
The journey to find new opportunities can be a difficult and risky one, she said, adding women could easily become the victims of human traffickers.
"Human mobility also helps economies by matching workers with employers who need their services," Ms Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand, said.
"The barriers facing migrants, however, can thwart their potential. The report argues that governments should take steps which would help migration advance human development."
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who gave a keynote address at the forum, said migration was not a new phenomenon for Thailand and it was facing a number of challenges arising from it.
He said Thailand was facing both internal movement from rural to urban areas and migration from neighbouring countries.
"We realise that the most effective way to protect these migrants is to legalise their status and bring them into the formal labour market," he said.
"Thailand is in the process of integrating with our Asean neighbours to achieve a socio-cultural as well as an economic community, which means that we also have to make sure that before integration fully takes place we address the issues of inequity and also create not just infrastructure but opportunities for people in the whole Asean region."
What Thailand had done to solve these problems was to enact the Employment of Foreign Workers Act, which encourages migrant workers to register to receive various welfare and legal protection entitlements equal to Thai labourers, he said.
In addition, the government has enacted the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, which provides protection for victims, whether they are Thai nationals or legal or illegal migrants.
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