How does technology help migrants from Central America?

MigApp

 

When high-risk journeys take place, such as long walks crossing multiple Central American countries, uncertainty is always present. The surge of information and the variety of sources makes it difficult for migrants to access reliable and pertinent information, this can result in an increase of vulnerability of those who move to another country.

According to World Migration Report 2018, "although many [migrants] are aware that the information provided may not be accurate, prospective migrants may use social media to locate smugglers. […] there are groups, on Facebook for instance, where migrants and asylum seekers search for travelling companions and ask for advice on dangers, risks and reliable smugglers."

To help break this scheme, since June 2018, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), developed the MigApp application (formerly under the name MigrantApp) to answer the most frequent questions and needs of migrants, before, during and after their journey. It is a tool that focuses on relevant information and excludes "boisterous" content.

While the app collects the profile of those who use it (age, sex, countries of transit, among others) to visualize migratory patterns that facilitate the analysis and understanding of the phenomenon to international organizations and governments, the data of those who use the application always remains anonymous. This broadens the information framework for migration governance to promote a safe, regular and orderly migration.

 

How does MigApp help migrants from Central America?

  • Useful information for a safe migration: To reduce the impact of unreliable or dispersed sources, MigApp compiles the requirements of entry and stay in other countries, how to manage work permits, locations of IOM medical centers, migrants’ rights, among others. In this way the user can prepare before traveling and foresee relief spaces during transit.
  • Compares money transfers platforms costs: The financial conditions in which many of these people migrate are precarious and they may need economic help of their relatives and acquaintances along the way. Through MigApp, migrants can compare the prices of different remittance platforms to choose the one that is least expensive.
  • Access to information on basic telephones and/or without Internet: Once downloaded, many of the features of the application do not require access to Internet to be consulted: it is static information always available for those who travel. Also, the application is designed so that it can be installed on any type of mobile device, regardless of its operating system or model.
  • Possibility of return: If a migrant voluntarily decides to return to his/her country, IOM facilitates a safe return, regardless the migratory status of the person requesting it. This request can be made in the different offices of the organization, and through MigApp.  

For more information about MigApp, please visit https://www.iom.int/migapp 

DOWNLOAD MigApp for Android o iOS.

 


7 recommendations to promote the inclusion of migrants in host communities through social and cultural activities.

Categoria: Pacto Mundial sobre Migración
Autor: Carlos Escobar

The promotion of social and cultural activities as a mechanism to encourage interaction between migrants and host communities with the aim of advancing in the construction of more just and peaceful societies, is currently a topic of special interest in studies, policies and programs on migrant inclusion and social cohesion.

Taking Intergroup Contact Theory (IGCT) as a reference, different researches argue that the interaction of people from different places and contexts, under the right circumstances, favors trust and the change of xenophobic or discriminatory perceptions. Thus, intergovernmental agreements such as the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration have integrated this perspective into their theoretical and conceptual body. In particular, Goal 16 "Empower migrants and societies to achieve full inclusion and social cohesion", calls for the creation of community centres or programs at the local level to facilitate the participation of migrants in the receiving society by engaging migrants, community members, diaspora organizations, migrant associations and local authorities in intercultural dialogue, exchange of experiences, mentoring programs and the creation of business linkages that enhance integration outcomes and foster mutual respect.

Based on the analysis and review of different research, the IOM, in its publication The Power of Contact: Designing, Facilitating and Evaluating Social Mixing Activities to Strengthen Migrant Integration and Social Cohesion Between Migrants and Local Communities – A Review of Lessons Learned, proposes a series of recommendations, based on empirical evidence, to encourage the participation of migrants and receiving communities in social and cultural activities.

1). Fun and goal-oriented

Designing and incorporating fun and exciting activities leads to a lighter and more welcoming environment for people to meet, interact and create social bonds. At the same time, setting common goals, which neither group can achieve without the participation of the other (cooperative interdependence), makes the activities more engaging and participatory.

2). Mutual appreciation

Participants should understand, recognize and appreciate culture, traditions and history as part of the process of bridging differences, maximizing each other's strengths and identifying commonalities. It is important that all individuals are able to identify how their contributions can have a positive impact on the achievement of common goals.

3). Shared ownership

Involving migrants and local communities in all phases of activities will increase their participation. This ownership empowers them, raises their self-esteem and opens up new opportunities for responsibility and commitment.

4). Guided Reflection

Dialogues and activities that allow for a certain degree of reflection help to create an atmosphere that is perceived as trusting, friendly and warm. Processing information and sharing personal and sensitive stories, which can evoke memories, are of utmost importance as long as they are carefully guided and accompanied by facilitators or project members.

5). Supervision and Trust Facilitation

Those responsible for group interactions, such as team leaders, facilitators, project staff or event planners, must play an active role in promoting equality within intergroup relations and creating an inclusive environment for all. This deliberate effort is crucial to overcome the natural tendency of participants to group themselves according to their most salient characteristics and status.

6). Sustained and regular intervention

It goes without saying that the more frequent, prolonged and intensive the participation, the better the attitude of each individual towards others. This means adopting an approach that rethinks the role of the people involved, who in turn will define the needs of their communities and ultimately take part in the design and organization of appropriate interventions.

7). Institutional support and partnership

The support of institutions such as local governments, media, government agencies and intermediary organizations is critical to promoting and facilitating constructive efforts to strengthen intergroup relations. The coordination of these institutions creates a system that can provide resources and incentives to promote and strengthen intergroup relations.

Social and cultural activities, understood as a programmatic intervention strategy to facilitate the inclusion of migrants in receiving communities, are important to the extent that they offer non-institutional spaces for interaction, where through spontaneous human contact, social ties are built based on experiences, stories, emotions and life trajectories of the participants. This facilitates the generation of trust between individuals, greater degrees of social cohesion and, of course, peaceful coexistence in communities, understood not only as the absence of conflict, but also as a positive, dynamic and participatory process in which dialogue is promoted and conflicts are resolved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation, through the acceptance of differences, the ability to listen, recognize, respect and appreciate others. (UN, 2021).