EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement
The Council of Europe, through its EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement, is promoting improvements in emergency planning, disaster response and risk mitigation for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. EUR-OPA works in particular to:
- recommend strategies to reduce migrants’ vulnerability and exposure to risks;
- improve co-ordination between civil protection and other agencies supporting migrants, asylum seekers and refugees;
- exchange good practices to better engage young people in civil society and in all phases of the disaster risk management cycle, as well as actions for engaging with migrants and using their skills and capacities for disaster risk reduction.
These activities contribute to the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
The Ministers of the EUR-OPA member States have endorsed the results of the Project Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the Context of Major Risks Prevention and Management (2014-2016) at the 13th Ministerial Session, while adopting the Recommendation 2016 – 1 on the Inclusion of Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees in disaster preparedness and response.The member States are now invited to integrate specialised measures on migrants, asylum seekers and refugees into their national disaster risk reduction policies, training curricula and emergency management, favouring investment in long-term strategies that would reduce the vulnerability and exposure to disaster of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.
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 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.
- 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.