Are you working in shelters during COVID19? Follow these recommendations

Are you working in shelters during COVID19? Follow these recommendations

The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 has affected everyone, forcing people to make adjustments in their ways of life. Different groups have different needs and requirements, including migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, displaced persons and those who assist them in shelters and refuges.

To best deal with this pandemic in these spaces, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), made up of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the International Organization for Migrations (IOM), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the World Health Organization (WHO) have created an interim guide to support those who work in shelters and refuges, with information on how to take care of yourself and how to properly assist the people who are there.

All states have an obligation to protect the rights of all people on their territory without discrimination, including in humanitarian situations. However, potentially due to ignorance and prejudices, a migrant’s legal status and housing conditions may be wrongfully interpreted as factors that limit their rights.

With regards to providing assistance during the COVID-19 crisis, it is essential that staff in migrant shelters:

  • Bring information and services to migrants in an appropriate manner. Those who have an irregular status in a country may doubt whether to seek out health services. If they do, the information may not be available in the appropriate language and form, or they may be discriminated against and stigmatized. This means that shelters must be equipped with both adequate materials and staff training.
  • Adapt spaces. In humanitarian situations, many migrants find places live outside of official shelters, in informal camps and other collective spaces which may be overcrowded. These spaces need to be identified and adapted to reduce interpersonal interactions in common areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms, and even in bedrooms.
  • Rethink food distribution. Some recommendations for this are: define the points from which the provisions will be distributed; organize rations before scheduled distribution; do not allow crowds in distribution spaces; manage the flow of people entering and leaving; and take additional sanitation and hygiene measures. The details of these measures are available in World Food Programme’s Recommendations for Adjusting Food Distribution Standard Operating Procedures in the Context of the COVID-19 Outbreak
  • Involve migrants and other people on the move in response strategies, policies and plans. Each government may establish travel restrictions that involve refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons and migrants during the COVID19 outbreak. However, close and responsible monitoring is necessary so that there are no restrictions based on fear or misconceptions related to the coronavirus.

This is a non-exhaustive list of recommendations to implement in shelters and refuges that work with migrants and other groups in mobilization. The full interim guidance document also includes information regarding coordination and planning; risk communications and community engagement; surveillance, case investigation and rapid response team; health screening; laboratory system; prevention and control of infections; case management and continuity of essential services; and logistics, procurement and supply management.

Prevention rather than reaction is the best way to ensure the severity of the situation does not escalate and affect more vulnerable populations such as people on the move, among others.


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.