As resilient as I know migrant communities to be, they can still easily be among the worst affected by natural disasters, extreme violence or armed conflict. They have certain heightened vulnerabilities specifically because they are migrants. Whether in cities or in rural settings, migrants frequently fall through the cracks of national and international crisis warning systems and emergency response. They are more often than not less prepared than their neighbours and are more exposed to hazards.
Derived from the input of States, civil society, international organizations and private sector actors, these voluntary and non-binding Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries Experiencing Conflict or Natural Disaster reflect the outcome of the MICIC Initiative.
Repository of practices
Sometimes a promised land becomes a land of shattered dreams. The recent news of Bangladeshi migrants putting their lives at risk to cross the Mediterranean sea, and the report of IOM repatriating some Bangladeshis back from Libya a few months ago, brings back memories of a similar crisis Bangladeshi migrants endured back in 2011, at the peak of the conflict in Libya.
Cities thrive because of their vibrant and diverse communities. In many migrant communities, factors such as culture, language, immigration status, and community isolation contribute to higher levels of vulnerability to the effects of emergencies. Disseminating relevant, culturally-appropriate emergency preparedness information to migrant populations is critical to building resilience. Effective emergency management in urban areas depends on creating links to these communities and offering the tools and information they need to be prepared.
In 2014 Mexico established its first public policy on migration, in which civil society actors, academics, governmental authorities and the migrants themselves played a key role in identifying the needs to be addressed and the rights to be upheld under the new policy.
Humanitarian agencies now need to reach larger numbers of migrants, in more complex emergencies, than ever before. In much of the media coverage of these responses, social media, apps and web-enabled innovations are touted as possible solutions to these overwhelming needs. Mainstream and specialist sources both report on the use of social media in emergencies - for example, in the Philippines and Indonesia, where Twitter was reportedly used by communities to manage their responses to Typhoon Megi and the Mount Merapi volcano eruption.
Ten-year-old Charlie sat in the front row and refused all invitations to join the kids’ corner. A son of a migrant agricultural worker from southern Mexico, Charlie began attending LISTOS’ class with his mother. He was engaged, interested and eagerly participated in class activities. While Charlie was too young to be considered an “official student” of the LISTOS training, that did not discourage him from being present each session.