Type of practice: Assistance programs

Country: Cyprus, Lebanon, Nepal, Sri Lanka

Type of Stakeholder Implementing the Practice: State of Origin

Type of crisis: Conflict

Crisis phase: Emergency Response


As the Israel-Lebanon conflict intensified in July 2006, the Government of India asked the Indian Armed Forces to help evacuate its citizens at risk from the conflict zone. Of the over 10,000 Indian nationals in Lebanon, almost 2,000 were at risk. Neighboring Sri Lanka and Nepal, which lacked military resources, also requested the Indian government to help evacuate their citizens. Altogether, over 2,200 nationals of these countries were caught in the conflict zone. The Indian navy initiated “ Operation Sukoon”, meaning “peace and tranquility” in Hindi, “relief” or “succour” in Urdu (Indian Navy, 2006) sending 4 naval vessels that contained around 115 tons of aid from both the Indian and Cyprus governments: medical supplies, clothing and blankets, antiseptics, food, baby milk powder and canned goods. Some evacuees went to Cyprus and some direct to India through the Suez Canal. Overall, around 2,280 were evacuated - over 1,800 Indian nationals (although some were without valid documents), 379 Sri Lankans, 69 Nepalese and 5 Lebanese (ibid). After the evacuation, the task force remained on station in international waters off Lebanon, monitoring the conflict, and ensuring the safety of remaining Indian nationals in Lebanon. The vessels left for their home ports on 10 August 2006.

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Guidelines/Thematic Areas

Provision of humanitarian assistance 

GUIDELINE 11: Provide humanitarian assistance to migrants without discrimination

In the collective effort to protect migrants caught in countries experiencing conflicts or natural disasters, there is no greater imperative than to save lives and alleviate suffering. Humanitarian assistance should be provided to people affected by a conflict or a natural disaster, including migrants, on the basis of need, without discrimination, and regardless of immigration status, nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, or other differentiating characteristics.

Some migrants, just as with affected citizens, may need assistance to address their particular needs and circumstances. Domestic workers and others working in isolated conditions, migrants in an irregular immigration status, and migrants in detention may require specific assistance from States, international organizations, and civil society. Some migrants may be unwilling to leave host States due to incapacitating financial burdens; they may owe money to recruiters or employers. Others may lack access to the necessary financial resources to leave, because their wages are withheld, their employers are unable or unwilling to pay for their return, or they work in exploitative situations. Pregnant women, persons with disabilities, and the elderly may face mobility challenges.

Migrants’ needs will not remain static during the shifting dynamics of a crisis. Organized criminal networks may take advantage of marginalized migrants in a crisis, exacerbating their vulnerability. A change in circumstances in a migrant’s State of origin may compel some people to seek asylum rather than return. Stakeholders should ensure access to asylum procedures in the host State or States of transit. States may consider providing migrants temporary and other forms of humanitarian protection during or in response to a conflict or natural disaster.

Sample Practices

Displacement tracking mechanisms to identify migrant movements and needs. Tailored assistance to migrants that take into account needs that may arise from gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, immigration status, or other characteristics. Assessment tools to determine migrant-specific vulnerability and needs, including specialized screening for indicators of human trafficking. Targeted action to protect migrant children, including unaccompanied and separated children, and children with parents in an irregular immigration status. Services to trace and reunify family members and identify remains and missing migrants. Mobile response teams to reach and provide assistance to affected migrants. Separation of immigration enforcement from access to humanitarian services to promote access to life-saving assistance especially for migrants who fear authorities. Mechanisms to recover outstanding wages.

Relocation and evacuation 

GUIDELINE 13: Relocate and evacuate migrants when needed

During some crises, stakeholders may be able to protect migrants where they are located in the host State. But this may not always be possible, especially in situations where the repercussions of a conflict or natural disaster envelop large geographic areas. Where protection cannot be provided locally, it may be necessary to relocate migrants to other parts of the host State or evacuate them to States of transit or the State of origin. Some migrants may make these journeys on their own. Many may rely on States, their employers, recruiters, or placement agencies, international organizations, civil society, and other migrants for support and assistance.

Evacuation is generally a last resort but absolutely essential if migrants cannot remain safely where they are and cannot be relocated safely to another part of the host State. Where comprehensive contingency plans and standing evacuation and relocation arrangements are not already in place, ad hoc arrangements may be needed to communicate evacuation information, determine eligibility for evacuation, establish modes of evacuation, and negotiate with States of transit and other actors. States, regardless of whether they are party to relevant international instruments, should implement specific safeguards to ensure individuals who face persecution, or, as appropriate, serious harm or other life-threatening situations in their States of origin or other States, including refugees, are protected against refoulement. Stateless persons may need specific assistance to take advantage of evacuation arrangements. Coordination between States and other stakeholders in carrying out evacuations can leverage resources, for example, to transport migrants to States of origin in the same region.

Sample Practices

Evacuation of migrants to States of transit or States of origin with their informed consent. Establishment of criteria for eligibility for evacuation. Multi-stakeholder cooperation on evacuation. Evacuation for family units who have family members of different nationalities. Deploying personnel to consular posts to assist with evacuation.