AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, who came to this country as a child refugee, has a message for world leaders: “It’s time to step up.” This Sept. 19 at the United Nations, governments will meet in a global summit to develop a plan for addressing large movements of refugees and migrants. It is essential that they make commitments to open up opportunities, rather than close borders, and work together to protect the human and labor rights of families on the move.
The need for international cooperation and solidarity is clear. More refugees than ever–65.3 million–have been forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and persecution, and many of the world’s 244 million migrants similarly flee poverty and violence in search of a better life.
As the 10 brave and inspiring athletes on the first-ever refugee Olympic team demonstrate, newcomers provide substantial contributions, untapped talents and great resilience to destination countries. They show that we’re stronger when immigrants and refugees are included in our workplaces and communities with equal rights and a voice in shaping their futures.
And just as the Olympics brings the world together, governments need to work in harmony to address forced movements of migrants and refugees. We would all hope to receive fair treatment in similar circumstances.
Please sign the #WithRefugees petition, which will be delivered to United Nations headquarters in New York ahead of the summit, to show that the labor movement believes children and families should be able to access education and good jobs, live in safety and make a positive contribution to their communities.