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FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

FAO asks society to look at migration from a different angle

“Migration affects the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. In the next decades, demographic trends, globalization, inequality and climate change are likely to further increase migration pressures – both within countries and across borders,” said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia, speaking at a high-level forum in Budapest today.

Rakhmanin pointed out that although migration is usually perceived as an international movement, there are also large numbers of people migrating from the countryside to urban areas – driven by the effects of poverty, water scarcity, food insecurity, soil degradation and desertification.

The panel discussion on the role of science in addressing migration formed part of this year’s World Science Forum, a biennial meeting of scientific decision makers, experts and representatives of the for- and non-profit sectors, organized jointly by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences with UNESCO and other partners. The theme of the four-day event is “The enabling power of Science.”

László Lovász, president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, opened the Forum. Other high-profile panelists include Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, president of Jordan’s Royal Scientific Society, Flavia Schlegel, Assistant director-general for UNESCO and Ádám Török, secretary general of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

FAO’s long-term focus for addressing out-migration is on poverty alleviation and making agriculture in the home country more resilient to shocks. In emergency situations, it provides practical help to vulnerable farming households, enabling families to continue earning their own living through agriculture.

Rakhmanin presented the example of Syria. There, as a result of the conflict, food markets and supply chains became dysfunctional, prompting farmers to abandon their fields and livestock.

In Syria today, FAO is providing:

  • carefully selected seed enabling farmers to grow sufficient cereals to feed their families,
  • cash-for-work programmes that provide income while repairing critical on-farm infrastructure,
  • veterinary support and vaccination campaigns to preserve livestock health and vital sources of nutrition,
  • backyard production kits that give displaced and host families the means to produce nutrient-rich foods such as eggs, milk and vegetables.

Migration should be approached in an integrated manner, Rakhmanin said, with social protection playing a key role. On a global scale, FAO generates knowledge about the root causes of migration, provides advice to countries on how to better manage rural labour mobility and, together with its partners, actively contributes to global cooperation mechanisms.

04 November 2015, Budapest, Hungary

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