IOM, OSCE Discuss Perceptions and Realities of Migration on International Migrants Day

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Participants of the discussions on perceptions and realities of migration hosted by OSCE and IOM at the headquarters of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, Austria. © UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

Vienna – More than ever, there is a strong need to overcome myths and misconceptions about migration and migrants and to engage in more balanced and fact-based dialogue about a phenomenon that has shaped humanity, said participants at an OSCE- and IOM-hosted discussion, Perception is not reality – Towards a new narrative of migration, yesterday (18/12) at the headquarters of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna, Austria.

The gap between reality and perception had widened, with reinforced stereotypes, misconceptions and prejudices about migrants, they noted.

The event, to mark the 2017 International Migrants Day, gathered experts and practitioners in the area of migration governance as well as representatives of think-tanks, academia and research entities, civil society, international organizations and OSCE executive structures.

IOM’s Special Policy Advisor Gervais Appave said that there is a great deal of existing common ground and it hinges on the understanding that migration is not so much a problem to be solved as a human reality to be managed.

“We need to offer hope to those facing economic despair, to provide legal pathways for more migrants or circular migration options for those who wish to work and return home,” he said. “If we do not come up with solutions the smugglers will do it for us, at great cost to human life and to the fabric of our societies.”

“The benefits of migration go well beyond the positive contribution of migrants to the global economy,” noted OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger. “Circulation of competencies, skills and knowledge benefit the societies of origin, destination and the migrants themselves.”

“Frequently presented in terms of ‘crisis’, migration is often discussed in ways that are one-sided and prone to induce misperception,” said Greminger, underlying how facts about migration are often overlooked.

Ambassador Florian Raunig, Head of the Task Force for the 2017 OSCE Austrian Chairmanship, said: “As a global phenomenon, current migration patterns and refugee movements are a shared responsibility of the international community. It is important not to lose sight of the fact that, if managed and regulated properly, migration can be beneficial to all parties involved. We must work together to unlock the full potential that migrants can have for economic development and prosperity at the national, sub-national and municipal level.”

For more information please contact Joe Lowry at IOM Vienna, Tel: +43 660 3776404, Email: