Type of practice: Awareness raising and communication tools

Country: Austria

Name of Stakeholder: Austrian Red Cross

Type of Stakeholder Implementing the Practice: Civil Society

Type of crisis: Conflict, Natural Disaster

Crisis phase: Crisis Preparedness


ProjektXchange is a programme of the Austrian Red Cross through which migrants in Austrian society share their journey and achievements with young people to help improve perceptions of migrants. The programme was created in response to changes in public attitudes to migrants: the media, politicians, and ordinary citizens were becoming more hostile and fearful because of the large influx of migrants into the country. Approximately 300 volunteers with a migratory background were invited to act as ‘ambassadors of integration’ and visit schools and youth groups to share their experiences. These ambassadors share their stories, including why they came to Austria, what they do, their experiences of discrimination and xenophobia, and their hopes for the future. Interactions with the audience and young people is encouraged in ProjektXchange workshops and often leads to fruitful discussions. As an additional benefit, ProjektXchange presents young migrants with ‘role models’. These role models show that it is possible, in spite of the many difficulties of being a migrant, to integrate into Austrian society while keeping one’s own identity.


Guidelines/Thematic Areas

Empowering migrants

GUIDELINE 3: Empower migrants to help themselves, their families, and communities during and in the aftermath of crises

In order to help themselves and others and to enjoy their rights, migrants need access to identity documents, basic public services, and financial and other resources. Migrants’ ability to help themselves and enjoy their rights can be undermined by factors related to their entry and stay, means of arrival, connections to local populations, and conditions in the host State, including in workplaces. These factors can in turn undermine emergency response and recovery efforts.

States, private sector actors, international organizations, and civil society can promote migrants’ resilience and empower migrants to help themselves during and after a crisis by addressing underlying conditions of vulnerability. Respecting, protecting, and fulfilling migrants' human and labor rights in ordinary times advance these goals as do efforts to ensure migrants are able to access information, basic services, and administrative, judicial, and other redress mechanisms.

Legal, policy, and operational factors that constrain protection should be addressed. Examples of obstacles include laws, policies, and practical barriers that arbitrarily restrict the movement of migrants, enable arbitrary detention, discriminate between migrants and citizens in the provision of humanitarian assistance, or permit exploitative employment or recruitment practices.

In times of crisis, fear of immigration enforcement can inhibit migrants, particularly those in an irregular immigration status, from accessing necessary help. In this context, it is important to separate immigration enforcement actions from those that promote migrants’ access to services, humanitarian assistance, identity documents, and movement.

Stakeholders can provide migrants—prior to departure from the State of origin, upon arrival in the host State, and during their stay in the host State—with pertinent information related to country-specific conflict or natural disaster hotspots, rights and potential rights violations or abuses, ways to access timely, credible, and regular information, emergency contact points, and what to do and where to go in the event of a crisis. Building migrants’ skills to communicate in the host-State language and increasing migrants’ financial literacy may prompt migrants to invest in savings, take out micro-insurance, and better prepare for navigating unforeseen circumstances.

Sample Practices

  • Pre-departure and post-arrival training for migrants that includes crisis-related information.
  • Positive communication about migrants, including through migrant role models and campaigns to promote tolerance, non-discrimination, inclusiveness, and respect.
  • Financial products, including micro-insurance, savings accounts, and fast-cash loans that target migrants’ needs, including low-income migrants.
  • Measures that respect, protect, and fulfill migrants’ human and labor rights, including addressing barriers that inhibit migrants’ ability to enjoy their rights.
  • Identity cards for migrants in an irregular immigration status to promote their access to services.
  • Ethical recruitment processes and accreditation, and integrity certification schemes.
  • Community-based alternatives to detention for migrants.