More Work Needed to Reduce the Vulnerability of Migrants During Emergencies
Migrants are often among the groups most affected by natural hazards and armed conflicts. Language barriers, limited social networks and isolation are some of the factors that may limit migrants’ ability to ensure their own safety and well-being.
Despite these challenges, migrants frequently fall through the cracks of national and international emergency efforts.
This June marks the second anniversary since the launch of the Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries Affected by Conflict or Natural Disaster, the outcome document of the Migrant in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Initiative.
This comprehensive States-led process aimed to raise awareness on the specific challenges that migrants experience during crises, and identify options to effectively reduce their vulnerability.
The MICIC Guidelines provide clear recommendations – to all relevant governmental and non-governmental actors – for creating the conditions needed to help migrants leverage their capacities to better prepare, respond to and recover from crises.
IOM, the UN Migration Agency, played a central role in the MICIC Initiative. The organization served as the Secretariat of the policy process, bringing its decades of experience in migrant-inclusive practices in the context of humanitarian crises.
With the MICIC Initiative coming to a close with the publication of the Guidelines in 2016, IOM’s role has evolved: the Organization is now leading their dissemination and operationalization.
IOM continues to work at the operational- and policy-level in close partnership with governments and non-governmental actors - in migrants’ countries of origin, transit and destination to systematically include migrants in crisis prevention, preparedness, response and recovery efforts.
In the two years since their launch, the MICIC Guidelines have proved to be effective in guiding national and regional processes on migration, humanitarian interventions, and disaster risk reduction.
Earlier this year in Mexico, just to mention one example, IOM jointly with the National Center for Disaster Prevention (CENAPRED) and the Immigration Policy Unit of the Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB), facilitated a forum that allowed a dialogue between relevant actors about their experiences in protecting migrants from situations of disasters caused by natural events. Participants included representatives of embassies, consulates, agencies of the United Nations System, state civil protection units and civil society organizations.
Continuous efforts are required to ensure that the MICIC Guidelines are widely understood and incorporated into relevant national and regional planning. This will be a crucial step towards generating a stronger commitment towards the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the various stakeholders.
IOM has developed a set of training materials and operational guidance tools that can be used to design and implement relevant MICIC awareness raising and capacity-building activities for governments, non-governmental actors and migrants:
- An E-learning course for consular officials on assisting nationals in the context of crises;
- A training course for emergency responders on migrant-inclusive emergency management;
- An orientation module for migrants on crisis preparedness, to be delivered before departure or upon arrival;
- Operational guidance for consular staff and emergency management personnel for crisis preparedness activities;
- Thematic publications to build the evidence base on migrants experience in countries in crisis.
These tools have already been used in over 20 countries by governments and civil society partners who work on migrant-inclusive disaster risk management and consular crisis support.