CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Hong Kong migrant voice at United Nations

HONG KONG (SE): Eni Lestari, a domestic worker in Hong Kong for 17 years and chairperson of the International Migrants Alliance, is scheduled to speak as a representative of migrants around the world at the first ever United Nations (UN) Summit on Refugees and Migrants in New York on September 19.

Lestari was chosen by the office of the president of the General Assembly of the UN to address the migrant situation. 

The Indonesian community leader and human rights advocate told a press conference at the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body in Jordan Road on September 8 that she considers it an important opportunity to present migrant issues to world leaders as being of vital concern to the international community.

Lestari explained that it is high time governments acted together to effectively address the difficulties migrants face.

“Foremost should be the economic and political condition that forcibly displaces people, uproots them from the family and community, and makes them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by unscrupulous elements, including traffickers and illegal recruiters, and employers,” she said.

She promised to emphasise the importance of the comprehensive human rights of migrants as a framework for states in forming policies on migration.

This includes the right of people to a decent living standard in their own countries, as well as decent employment conditions in whatever country they are working.

“My experience as a domestic worker in Hong Kong has made it clear to myself that treating migrants as second or even third class people, or as mere commodities to trade as cheap labour opens the floodgates to all sorts of abuse. There can be no essential improvement in the condition of migrants as long as we are not seen as people, as workers and as women with rights,” Lestari stated.

Lestari will be joined at the UN by representatives of community and non-government organisations working with migrants and refugees around the world. 

The Summit on Refugees and Migrants is an historic opportunity to come up with a blueprint for a better international response.


The UN describes it as a watershed moment to strengthen governance of international migration and a unique opportunity to create a more responsible response system to the massive movement of refugees and migrants around the world today.

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