9 keys for effective Migration Governance in the Caribbean

Migratory Governance - Caribbean states


The Caribbean has witnessed numerous waves of migration throughout history. Region wide economic stagnation; limited job opportunities; natural disasters such as floods, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and earthquakes; have been important push and pull factors in the Caribbean, able to cause large and unforeseen migration flows.

Even though governments and international organizations such as the Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), have contributed to the promotion of regular and safe migration, the needs for capacity-building, knowledge -sharing and data collection on migration ̶  just to name just a few ̶   remain a challenge. The region shares several common migration issues, therefore, the success in overcoming these problems will depend on government’s consistency in working in collaboration to improve such challenges in the Caribbean region.

To assist in this endeavor and with the clear purpose of empowering governments as well as their existing migration governance capacities and policies, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), under the PACTA project and funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration; developed the Regional Report on Migration Governance in the Island States of the Commonwealth Caribbean. A report that presents a background of ten countries of the region, through concrete evidence and data, combined with the inputs of regional stakeholders to provide a larger perspective on opportunities for improvement in regional governance and cooperation. Furthermore, it offers actionable recommendations on how to best minimize the potential risks of migration, while maximizing its economic and development benefits.

The study revealed that in order to implement effective migration governance practices in these ten countries of the region, governments need to:

  1. Collect data on the growing trends of intraregional migration, as well as data on migrant populations, both regular and irregular.
  2. Implement a comprehensive migration approach, aligned with international standards and national development strategies.
  3. Strengthen coastal surveillance to manage irregular migration appropriately, improving application of strategies in the areas of border management, national security and the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations.
  4. Collect data on the impact of mobility regimes and programs to obtain citizenship through investment schemes. 
  5. Enhance collective action on disaster management and development of more comprehensive mechanisms to mitigate and manage the consequences of environmental hazards.
  6. Strengthen legislation and protocols related to the fight against trafficking and improving the capacity to generate effective responses, as none of the ten countries has yet ratified all the nine-core international human rights treaties. Countries would benefit from adjusting their legislation to consistently reflect the core principles of international instruments, and from strengthening regional coordination efforts, including the standardization of protocols and practices to address various migration-related issues.  
  7. Adopt mechanisms to guarantee migrants' access to medical care and improvement of detection protocols in Border Crossing Points (BCPs).
  8. Collect data on circular migration (repetitive and temporal migration between two places) and labour mobility, as well as the effect of migration on labour supply and demand.
  9. Review of legislation to guarantee universal access to education for migrant children of compulsory school age.

In the process of addressing these gaps, it is important that governments, not only make efforts to improve governance systems for migration, but also that the international community recognizes the complexities of the subregion and understands the need to adapt the guidelines and frameworks to the realities of each of these States. The IOM looks forward to working with the Caribbean region to address capacity limitations and realize the potential highlighted in this report.

The Regional Report on Migration Governance in the Island States of the Commonwealth Caribbean is now published in the Caribbean Migration portal of the CMC in the following link: http://cpmg.iom.int/migration-data-and-analysis 

For further information please contact Brendan Tarnay, CMC Project Coordinator: btarnay@iom.int / Estela Aragón, Research Coordinator: earagon@iom.int


Sofía Cortes is the Digital Content Manager for the Caribbean Migration Consultations initiative. She has more than 5 years of experience in the areas of communication and marketing. Previously she has worked for advertising agencies such as Havas Tribu and for United Nations organizations such as University for Peace, as Communications Officer. She is a public relations graduate of the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica and candidate for a Master's Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing from the Latin American University of Science and Technology.

Interviewing Rubén Sánchez, Director of 'Zanmi'

Interviewing Rubén Sánchez, Director of 'Zanmi'
Categoria: Communication & Migration
Autor: Laura Manzi

‘Zamni' (2018) is one of the films that participated in the 2020 edition of the Global Migration Film Festival. The short film, which was selected to be screened at regional level by the Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, narrates the experiences and daily lives of four Haitian migrants in Chile and their integration process in the South American country.

In this interview, the young director Rubén Sánchez, tells what objectives and motivations guided him towards the creation of the short film.

Why did you choose young Haitian migrants as the protagonists of your work? Is there something in their profile that makes them different from other migrant communities in Chile?

What struck us is that the Haitian population here in Chile is the one that finds it most difficult to integrate into society. One of the main reasons is that they speak another language, the Creole language, and that is an even bigger barrier considering that Chilean Spanish has many idioms and tends to be spoken very quickly. Another obstacle to integration is the racism and rejection of some sectors of society towards the Haitian population: whether because of ethnicity, nationality, language or other prejudices. This leads to more segregation and not integration.

In the short film, there are many scenes that portray different landscapes: the sea, the forest, the city. What is the role of nature in the integration process of migrants?

Climatic conditions and landscapes can be a challenge for integration. For example, Haiti is very flat, there are no mountains and the climate is tropical. Here in Chile, nature and microclimates are quite diverse (the north has higher temperatures, the south is more humid and rainy, while the central zone is a mixture of these).
Nature, however, has also a symbolic purpose in the documentary. The mountain range, which characterizes the Chilean landscape, is the great frontier that any person faces to reach Chile. This justifies the scene that opens and closes the film and represents one of the protagonists in the Embalse del Yeso, which is a place here in Santiago, in the middle of the mountain range. We wanted to film those scenes there as a more oneiric way of representing this enormous wall that is like a border to cross in order to reach Chile, and that at the same time symbolizes the great wall that is in the cultural shock that the Haitian population faces.

‘Life is a circle. A perfect circle of which we are not a part': the protagonists in the film have jobs, go to school, learn Spanish. Then, what are the elements that continue to prevent their integration into the host community, this 'circle' from which they are excluded?

The cultural shock is big. If the host society lives this 'fear of the unknown', the Haitian migrant population in turn reacts and this generates a fear of the community where they live. The lack of integration is made difficult by prejudice and because initiatives that value cultural richness are not promoted. I think this is what we lack as a society: to be more educated. If there is no good education, there will be no people who cannot integrate; we still need to be educated and 'humanized'. I feel that in some way we are also 'dehumanized'. This is what the documentary wants to capture: to reflect on the humanity that we need, the humanity that we need to integrate others, to show that we are all really the same, we are all human beings and we all have dreams.

How much is the director visible in his work? How come are you interested in the subject of migration?

The issue of Haitian migration was, for me, a personal concern, because I live in one of the cities in Chile with the largest Haitian population. I used to witness daily this rejection of the Haitian population in the eyes of the people, in comments that were exchanged by whispering in the bus when I went to the university. I was worried about that.
Also, before I enrolled in audiovisual communication, I studied social work, and had many courses on the migration issue and related social policies. I did a lot of research on Haitian migration, which allowed me to capture the central idea of the short film. During the shooting process, I had the opportunity to meet these young people (Haitian migrants), to live their culture, to taste their food. I was filled with a culture that I didn't know, I was filled with knowledge, with a new experience. I wish this documentary could reach more people, change who we are and cultivate our humanity.