Why December 18 will be different for me

Photo by Zachary Pendolino

When I was asked which UN international day between October and Christmas I would like to research, I was quickly drawn to International Migrants Day. The reason is obvious: during the last few months the largest flow of refugees and migrants since World War II is underway in Europe, people fleeing war, poverty and hunger. Although there is some confusion whether they are refugees or migrants, for me the correct terminology doesn’t really matter that much because all of them are people, real human beings who are in need of help and who require our welcome and assistance.

International Migrants Day is being commemorated on December 18th of each year. It was created by the UN General Assembly in 2000 to spread information about migration and the human rights of migrants. It also wants to raise awareness about what hardships migrants have to go through.

So what makes International Migrants Day different for me this year? It has to do with the large numbers of people fleeing to Europe. As of October 2015, over 700,000 refugees and migrants have been documented to have arrived in Europe. This number does not account for those who cross borders undetected. A majority of the people trying to enter Europe come from the Middle East and Africa. The war in Syria has contributed to the increase in refugees/migrants. As of September 2015, over 2,500 of them have drowned while trying to reach Europe. The routes they are taking are very dangerous.

On December 18th, I will take a moment to recognize all the migrants and refugees who have lost their lives on a quest for a better life. I also plan on spreading awareness about migration today to my family and my friends. It is important for everybody to do what they can to help these people in need.

For more information about this important international day, please go to the UN website for International Migrants Day.

Zachary Pendolino, Volunteer
November 2015