GUIDELINE 4: Incorporate migrants in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response systems

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States and other stakeholders have laws, policies, and programs on prevention, preparedness, and emergency response to reduce the impact of crises. Taking into account the presence of migrants, their vulnerabilities, and their potential needs in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response frameworks, including on disaster risk reduction (DRR), can promote resilience in the event of a conflict or natural disaster. Clear laws and policies on migrants’ eligibility for different types of assistance in the event of a crisis promote certainty. If the MICIC Initiative Guidelines Guidelines: Crisis preparedness 27 presence of migrants is not known or is inadequately incorporated in planning, stakeholders may overlook migrants in their responses. If stakeholders fail to appreciate factors that make migrants vulnerable, such as language barriers, isolated working conditions, irregular immigration status, or mistrust of authorities, responses may be ineffective. When laws and policies are unclear, responses towards migrants can be unpredictable and insufficient.

Migrants themselves and civil society may be in the best position to assist States and other stakeholders to appreciate the presence of migrants, their vulnerability, and needs. In this respect, involving migrants and civil society in the development of prevention, preparedness, and emergency response measures can be helpful. Such actions also build trust between migrant populations and State and non-State actors who provide protection.

Migrants and civil society also have capacities and resources that they can contribute to preparedness and emergency response. Their language abilities, first-hand knowledge of migrant populations, understanding of cultural norms within their communities, and ability to foster greater trust toward State authorities and other actors can be leveraged to create more comprehensive and effective systems and programs.

Sample Practices

  • Platforms to facilitate the engagement of migrants in the design and implementation of prevention, preparedness, and emergency response systems.
  • Taking migrants into account in national and local frameworks on prevention, preparedness, and emergency response, including by recognizing migrants as a specific group with needs and capacities.
  • Recruitment of migrants as staff or volunteers in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response mechanisms.

Inclusion of migrants in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response

Including migrants in national and local frameworks on prevention, preparedness, and emergency response, including DRR, reduces migrants’ vulnerability and improves the capacity of host communities to respond to and recover from crises. Activities may include:

  • Mapping and engaging with migrant organizations relevant for work on prevention, preparedness, and emergency response;
  • Mapping and engaging with consular posts of relevant States of origin;
  • Recognizing migrants in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response plans as a specific group, with particular vulnerabilities, needs, and capacities;
  • Prohibiting discrimination based on nationality, language proficiency, immigration status, and other prohibited characteristics in laws and policies related to the provision of life-saving assistance and emergency services;
  • Engaging migrants in local-level crisis management and planning;
  • Organizing and facilitating regular meetings between migrant representatives and representatives of national and local authorities;
  • Allocating sufficient resources for these activities.

Consultation on prevention, preparedness, and emergency response

Consultations in which all groups can voice their concerns and highlight needs build trust between authorities, local communities, and migrants, ensure that the needs of both local communities and migrants are known, and provide opportunities to work together on approaches and solutions. Relevant activities include:

  • Identifying migrant leaders and representatives that can meaningfully speak to or for their communities;
  • Setting up physical or virtual discussion spaces with broad accessibility;
  • Ensuring participation of all groups, including by providing translation and setting up dedicated opportunities for marginalized groups;
  • Minimizing costs of participation (e.g., lost time and transportation);
  • Hosting public meetings or town halls, including in spaces where migrants meet.

Recruitment of migrants as staff or volunteers

Authorities can engage migrants by hiring them as employees or by organizing and retaining them as volunteers to foster direct engagement of migrants and migrant communities in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response management and planning. Authorities can engage migrants by:

  • Carrying out recruitment campaigns targeting migrant groups that represent a priority (e.g., groups that are more numerous in the area or underrepresented in existing structures);
  • Engaging migrant community leaders in recruiting migrant employees and volunteers;
  • Engaging recruitment and employment agencies in identifying migrants with skills and capacities relevant to prevention, preparedness, and emergency response activities;
  • Selecting migrants based on their merits and skills and tasking them with roles that value their skills and priorities;
  • Highlighting to migrant communities potential benefits of becoming employees or volunteers, including skill development, employability, and increased networking and representation as well as better protection of migrants in the context of crises;
  • Creating non-threatening environments for learning.

Awareness-raising for prevention, preparedness, and emergency response procedures

Awareness-raising campaigns for prevention, preparedness, and emergency response procedures can provide migrants with necessary information to protect themselves during crises. Integrating clear messages for migrants into materials developed to educate the general public about risks related to natural disasters can help save migrant lives. Relevant activities include:

  • Providing natural disaster awareness websites, print, and broadcast materials in all necessary languages;
  • Ensuring that audio and visual material convey messages in a manner that allow illiterate populations to understand;
  • Identifying and tailoring messages to media outlets that migrants use;
  • Working with the travel industry, schools, employers, recruiters, and civil society to develop multi-lingual materials (e.g., brochures, travel guides, posters, and short videos which are available in public areas, such as airports, consulates, malls or markets, and tourist hotspots) that take into account the needs of migrants, including information on disaster risks, where to go, what to do, and emergency contacts;
  • Incorporating information about DRR and emergency response when visas are issued to migrants;
  • Disseminating information through places that migrants frequent and actors that engage with migrants, such as religious and neighborhood organizations, migrant groups, media sources that target migrants, and travel agencies;
  • Conducting education campaigns at the household level with a focus on migrant communities in locations prone to or at risk of natural disasters (for example, at the beginning of a hurricane season) or civil unrest;
  • Encouraging employers and recruiters to distribute crisis-related information and procedures to their employees, including migrants.

Inclusion of migrants in the international humanitarian response system

Mainstreaming migrants into existing international humanitarian response systems and relevant preparedness and response tools will help factor migrants in crisis response. Standard tools used to assess vulnerability and the needs of crisis-affected populations may need to be adapted to prompt relevant actors to identify migrant populations, their specific characteristics and needs, and barriers to self-help and access to assistance. Important activities may include:

  • Integrating the identification of migrant populations and their specific needs and vulnerabilities in disaster preparedness and response structures of the IASC humanitarian cluster system for responding to complex emergencies;
  • Familiarizing donors, civil society, and States regarding the specific needs of migrants in countries experiencing conflicts or natural disasters;
  • Training international organization officials on including migrants and migration and mobility considerations into humanitarian response plans.

Thematic guidance and operational tools

Migrants should be factored into specific guidance materials dedicated to the protection of particular groups, such as women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities, and victims of trafficking. Ways to do this include:

  • Incorporating references to migrants in existing tools and guidance. This would include advice on identifying migrant populations who may be particularly vulnerable during a crisis, such as ethnic minorities, migrants in an irregular immigration status, and those in detention; 
  • Incorporating references to migrants in training for staff on IASC tools and guidance, including on how to identify migrant populations, the ways in which migrants’ experiences of crises differ from those of citizens, and the types of assistance that migrants may require;
  • Developing crisis-related communication tools to reach out to migrants before and during crises including messaging toolkits with messages translated into migrants’ native languages.

Integration of relief, rehabilitation, and development

International organizations providing emergency response, rehabilitation, and development assistance can minimize the impacts of crises on migrants, their families, and communities, and maximize use of resources, including by:

  • Coordinating internally and ensuring that migrants and their needs are integrated into plans and standard procedures on emergency response, rehabilitation, and development;
  • Sensitizing donors and raising their awareness on the need to integrate migrants into emergency response, recovery, and development interventions;
  • Sensitizing national and local authorities on the role migrants can play in building communities.

Assistance to others who protect migrants

International organizations can provide expert advice and technical assistance to States, recruiters, employers, and other stakeholders on how to incorporate protection and assistance to migrants into their prevention, preparedness, and emergency response systems. Some important activities include:

  • Providing support to adapt or develop policies and procedures on prevention, emergency preparedness, and response systems so they take account of migrants and their needs;
  • Providing support on how to operationalize the integration of migrants in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response systems, including by training of front-line responders;
  • Facilitating coordination at the national and local levels;
  • Helping migrant communities create groups or a representational structure that can be a point of contact for authorities or organizations in the event of a crisis.

Involvement of migrant communities in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response plans

Civil society, including migrant associations, community organizations, and faith-based groups can facilitate the engagement of migrants, including isolated and marginalized populations, in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response plans. Measures to enhance involvement of migrants in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response planning include:

  • Advocating with relevant national and local authorities, including emergency response actors, to include migrants in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response planning and advising them on how to do so (e.g., identifying languages commonly spoken by migrants, explaining cultural or social barriers that need to be addressed for migrants to access assistance, identifying migrant-friendly community spaces for local planning meetings);
  • Creating mutual support associations through diaspora organizations in different countries;
  • Developing culturally and linguistically competent tools and mechanisms for migrants’ engagement in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response;
  • Conducting workshops or training on migrant-inclusive crisis preparedness plans.