5 key aspects on the migration of indigenous peoples

The number of people who decide to migrate is continually increasing. However, the experience of indigenous people has been systematically excluded from international migration frameworks. There is a generalized vision of indigenous peoples as communities deeply rooted in their territories and customs. However, more and more indigenous individuals and families are migrating from their territories as part of the dynamics of global migration.

The development of different States in the region is characterized by the non-involvement of indigenous peoples from a participatory and multicultural approach. This has led to a series of actions imposed on traditional local systems, which impact the culture, heritage and socio-economic opportunities of these communities. In many cases, the migration of indigenous peoples arises due to these cultural pressures and the new conditions of industrialized and globalized life.

Within this context, societies and States must consider the following points for multicultural work with these populations:

The correct way to address them: in terms of international law, Indigenous People should be understood as all the people who are consciously part of a common identity or culture. On the other hand, indigenous communities can refer to these groups of people, or the geographic areas where they are concentrated. Finally, indigenous territory is the extension of land that these people have in their countries of residence.

Human rights: Indigenous peoples are protected in three legislative areas: their universal rights, recognized by States or in international declarations; their rights as migrants, guaranteed by national or international laws; and their rights as indigenous persons guaranteed by national or international laws.

Diversity: all indigenous peoples are different in their culture, language, customs and traditions. Indigenous languages are an important factor in socio-cultural issues such as education, scientific and technological development, the biosphere and the environment, freedom of expression, employment and social inclusion. In addition, many of them have cross-border characteristics, which requires new analytical approaches and public policies that take into account the perspective of indigenous peoples in migration.

Causes of migration: Indigenous societies are seen rooted strongly in their territories and customs, which are usually located in areas rich in natural resources and far from urban areas or cities. However, the migration or internal displacement of indigenous people occurs due to multiple factors: mainly the need to escape from conflicts and persecution, the impacts of climate change, the dispossession of their lands and social disadvantage. Limited access of indigenous peoples to services such as education, health and employment opportunities is another factor that causes the mobilization of these people.

In Latin America, around 40% of all indigenous peoples live in urban areas, including 80% in some countries of Central America. In most cases, indigenous people who migrate find better employment opportunities and improve their economic situation, but they must move away from their traditional lands and customs, forcing them to face numerous challenges, including lack of access to public services and discrimination.

For 2010, a population of 45 million indigenous people was estimated in the region, and in 2018 there were 83,000 indigenous international migrants in 9 Central American countries, most of whom were women. It is important to emphasize that, although they stay far from their place of origin, identity traits and processes of resignification of identity are in constant movement to create a new sense of belonging.

Health: some of the health problems faced by indigenous migrant people are poor nutrition, a lack of access to medical services and a lack of health programs with an intercultural focus, leading to greater incidences of preventable diseases.

To summarize, within the countries, support for these communities is essential to cultivate an inclusive, multicultural and development-oriented society in which indigenous and non-indigenous communities benefit mutually. With this vision of intercultural coexistence, the migratory processes could become safer for these people throughout Central America.

In other words, to achieve this objective, society and institutions should be encouraged to change their methods of approaching indigenous peoples through more inclusive systems through intercultural dialogue, and thus avoid the imposition of forms of progress or attention without considering the unique characteristics of each group of people.

Recommended reading:

International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs:

World Bank Report:

Cepal Report:

Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean:


Turn on the microphones! Five keys to giving youth a voice on migration issues

Turn on the microphones! Five keys to giving youth a voice on migration issues
Categoria: Communication & Migration
Autor: Guest Contributor

Radio is still a medium that, especially in rural areas where access to the Internet is difficult, is still very much alive and shows itself to be an accessible alternative for the population. Whether in the car, in an app on the phone or in a device that only works with batteries in the most remote areas, the radio is there a few steps away and almost effortlessly. Entertaining us, informing us and accompanying our daily activities. From the largest cities to the most sparsely populated municipalities, radio is an industry that generates jobs and is vital for the dissemination of mass messages to a wide variety of audiences.

How can radio be harnessed as an avenue to empower young people about migration?

After seeing the high impact that this media has on the culture of our communities, these are some actions to be taken that will allow us to bring the message of regular, orderly and safe migration to a youth who may be victims of crimes associated with irregular migration:

  • Find out about community radio or radio stations in your city: This will help you to know all the spaces that exist within the community and to identify the audiences they are aimed at in order to choose the right channel that connects with young people.
  • Identify young leaders in their communities with communication skills: There is no better way to communicate with youth than through voices they can empathize with and identify with.
  • Create content that connects: Talking about migration does not require a serious or monotonous tone. Try to create short but effective messages with easy to understand language and prioritizing the use of storytelling instead of communicating concepts.
  • Create your own online radio station: The radio has undergone a significant evolution in recent years and proof of this is that the number of Internet radio stations has been increasing, which has led to the democratization of radio. You no longer need big budgets to have your own radio station and broadcast different contents 24 hours a day, this is a good alternative if there are not or do not have access to have space on traditional radio stations.
  • Develop empowering initiatives: Young people possess many talents: dynamism, fast learning and, of course, a lot of creativity. Therefore generating training spaces on radio production issues will help to discover hidden talents and form new opinion leaders, without leaving behind the importance of also empowering them on migration issues, this will allow them to transmit better messages that promote a safe, orderly and regular human mobility and will help them themselves to make better decisions regarding migration.

A success story of such activities is 'Youth on the Airwaves', a workshop on radio and migration that harnesses the energy of young people who are leaders in their communities and shows them the potential of the radio industry as a method of generating livelihoods and making their voices heard.

As a product of this initiative, the young people created their own radio spots to promote a better informed migration, from the ideation of the creative concept, script development, voice-over practice, recording and editing, in all these processes they received the support of both IOM staff and a team of experts in radio production.

A few years ago, former United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-moon stressed that "radio is very important to make the voice of youth heard, it stimulates the imagination and shortens the distances between people". One more reason to bring the media closer and generate spaces for youth in order to disseminate messages aimed at providing the population with sufficient and verified information that will allow them to make better decisions before embarking on a migratory route.