Migrants’ experiences in crisis can direct policy makers’ priorities and future actions
A newly released report and summary paper offer the international community direction in terms of areas of future priority for better responding to migrants caught in crisis situations. The report “Resilience in the Face of Adversity: A Comparative Study of Migrants in Crisis Situations ” is based on six case studies conducted across the globe on crisis situations in migrant host countries: Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Lebanon, Libya, South Africa and Thailand. The research, conducted by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development, the International Migration Institute of the University of Oxford, and local research partners, has collected and analysed the experiences and knowledge of over 650 migrants, family members of migrants, civil society organisations, intergovernmental organisations and government authority representatives who were interviewed across twelve different countries. The six case studies cover a spectrum of crises – from public disturbance to natural disaster to armed conflict – thereby highlighting the diverse experiences and needs of migrants during a crisis situation, as well as the varied ways institutional and other stakeholders respond to their needs.
The study points to the need for better and contextualised understanding of crises and migrants’ experiences, as well as the need to improve (and coordinate) international responses to migrants caught in crisis situations. Crises can produce a wide range of impacts, based not only on how they are handled by state and international actors, but also on the nature of the crisis, the environment leading up to the crisis and – significantly – how (and at what level) migrants’ engage their own agency in response to the crisis. Despite the wide range of crisis outcomes, the research also found that across the board, long-term responses to displaced persons – particularly returnees – was lacking and has seriously hindered migrants’ recovery in the years following the crisis.
Building on the results of the comparative study, the new summary paper connects six main thematic findings from the report to recent developments on the global stage and concrete recommendations and guidance that can already greatly improve responses. Engaging the main themes under study in the first phase of development of the UN Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, the summary paper highlights the main issues that have emerged in the research related to: human rights, social inclusion and cohesion, discrimination and xenophobia, international cooperation, remittances and irregular migration.
Institutional stakeholders already have a breadth of resources available to them that provide tangible and specific guidance on how to improve their responses. In particular, on migrants caught in crisis situations, there are already at least three specific guidance documents that provide best practices and concrete examples for states, civil society, international organisations and private institutions:
- MICIC Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries Experiencing Conflict or Natural Disaster,
- Global Migration Group’s Principles and Guidelines on the human rights protection of migrants in vulnerable situations within large and/or mixed movements, and
- Nansen Initiative’s Agenda for the Protection of Cross-Border Displaced Persons in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change.
Indeed, the research conducted on migrants’ experiences in the context of crises validates many of the issues already identified in these guidelines. The challenges migrants and institutional stakeholders encounter in the face of crises can be enormous – but they are not insurmountable: the international community already has the means to address many of these challenges at our fingertips.
For more information on the research results of the EU-funded project “Migrants in Countries in Crisis: Supporting an Evidence-Based Approach for Effective and Cooperative State Action”, including all six case studies, see the ICMPD website.