When a community or country is going through a crisis situation, whether due to political, economic, social or natural factors, antimigrant discourses, discrimination, hostility and abuse of human rights may increase.
Crises usually develop over time and have deep roots that require structural changes. However, migrants can be mistakenly seen as the generators of these problems, making the true causes of the situation invisible. This change or intensification of negative attitudes towards migrants occurs at different levels, which intertwine and reinforce each other: as a person, in a group, in media and social networks, and in politics and government.
The staff of organizations and institutions that must protect the rights of migrants during a crisis can also be biased by prejudices, affecting access to humanitarian aid, protection and rights. According to the IOM study "Migrants and their Vulnerabilities to Human Trafficking, Modern Slavery and Forced Labor", law enforcement agencies or prejudiced legislators against migrants are less likely to protect them.
The fear of irregular migrants being deported if they ask for help or employment during a crisis adds another layer of complexity. According to data from the International Labor Organization from the “Handbook of "Migration, Human Rights and Governance,” although the presence of irregular migrant workers is often tolerated in times of economic boom, it is likely that the pressures to expel them from the country increase during recessions.
For the provision of humanitarian assistance to migrants without discrimination in host countries, the guidelines of the Migrant in Countries in Crisis Initiative (MICIC) provide some recommendations to partners in different sectors based on good practices for the private sector, civil society and the diaspora:
For the private sector
- Locate migrant workers;
- Provide transportation, accommodation, health care, protection and communication to migrants and family members;
- Coordinate with the team leaders of migrant workers to make sure that emergency and contingency plans are applied according to the needs of migrant workers.
For civil society
- Ensure the dissemination of information on assistance for migrants through faith-based organizations, local leaders and other migrant-related entities.
- Communication with local and humanitarian partners to identify gaps in assistance or coverage.
- Use the various skills and competencies of CSOs to provide assistance according to the specific needs of particular groups of migrants, such as domestic workers and unaccompanied minors, victims of trafficking, people with disabilities, among others;
- Establish safe spaces and centers (for migrants in general and in particular for vulnerable migrants) where assistance can be provided in a sensitive and safe manner;
- Contribute to the search for relatives, family reunification and the identification of missing migrants.
For the diaspora
- Raise funds for humanitarian assistance
- Facilitate the access of those responsible for the response to the registration and assessment of needs (based on trust created with migrants)
- Act as mediators between migrant communities and the authorities;
- Provide support based on their particular capabilities, such as translation services, cultural mediation and in-kind assistance.
Although there are guidelines for the care of migrants without discrimination during a crisis such as those just mentioned, the work against hate speech must be constant and transversal to reduce this type of rejection in countries of transit and destination, including ethical representation of migrants in the media and personal actions advocating for diversity and against xenophobia.