All human beings are made up of experiences, feelings, lessons learned and struggles; for that reason, #WeAreTheSame.
Why do people migrate? What forces drive human migration?
Migration has existed since human beings first populated the earth. 80,000 years ago, the homo sapiens left Africa and from there, went on to populate different parts of the world. According to the Smithsonian Institute, this great migration took our species to a position of world dominion it never relinquished and marked the extinction of the Neanderthals in Europe and Asia and some scattered points of homo erectus in the Far East.
In other words, when this stage of migration was completed, homo sapiens became the last and only man standing on the face of the earth.
The truth is that people migrate for multiple and varied reasons, which may be due to what is called a push factor (displacement due to conflict situations such as food shortages, war or a natural disaster) or an attraction factor (moving to a new place attracted by a positive element: for example, a better climate, greater job opportunities, a better food supply, etc.)
Today, human beings continue to move, so that migration patterns are often a reflection of global economic trends.
According to UNHCR, the UN Agency for Refugees, in Panama there are more than 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers. For the most part, the refugees are from the Latin American continent.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) ensures that migration takes place in a safe, orderly and dignified manner. Currently, according to estimates from the National Immigration Service, there are 422,000 foreigners in Panama.
Unfortunately, people who arrive in another country often face discrimination, xenophobia and other situations of rejection or intolerance. This is one of the reasons why UNHCR, the UN Agency for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), co-lead the awareness campaign #SomosLoMismo (We Are The Same), which seeks to promote solidarity and respect towards refugees, migrants, and displaced nationals living in Panama, through the visualization of stories of migrants or people of migrant ancestry that are around us and with whom we share many more factors than those that differentiate us.
This local campaign was born in response to a regional initiative of UNHCR and IOM that has already materialized in several countries in the region such as Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Panama.
“Being open to hearing the stories of the people who live in our country, regardless of where they come from, understanding what they have gone through and that tomorrow it could be us in their situation, is a way of showing empathy and solidarity towards them. This humanizes us, makes us grow as people and honors the historic role that Panama has played as a host country par excellence, “says Reneé Cuijpers, Deputy Regional Representative of UNHCR.
“With this campaign we want to take this message to different publics in a tangible way, so we are looking for spaces of interaction with Panamanians, as well as the foreign population in Panama so that it is a campaign that does not stay in social networks, but instead a call to action and reflection, “said Santiago Paz, Head of the Administrative Center of Panama and Head of Mission of the IOM in Panama.
The campaign was launched in December of 2018 in social media, with the sharing of videos and information in a very graphic format highlighting how mobility humanizes us and provides an opportunity for growth and learning for all the people involved.
A quick look at #WeAreTheSame
- To promote empathy and solidarity towards migrants, ruguees and foreigners living in Panama
- To fight xenophobia and discrimination
- Remind the foreigner the offer of the host country
- Remind Panamanians of the origins of their identity
Panamanians and foreigners living in Panama
For more information about the campaign, please visit www.somoslomismo.com and the campaign’s social media platforms:
Facebook: Somos Lo Mismo