Migration seen through a Diversity Lens

Discussing migration is without a doubt incredibly important, nonetheless we should never forget to also analyze the way in which we view migration.

When we look at people around us, we can see infinite diversity; however, when we think about migrants, the first thing that comes to our mind is the image of a “young man, mestizo, and heterosexual”. We must therefore put an end to the idea that migration is something homogeneous. We have to realize, that the diversity we see around us is a reflection of migration considering that the diversity of people around us is the same that makes up migration.

By understanding that migration flows are dynamic, changing, and diverse, we will be able to understand that the needs of people tangled up in this system are all different.

As an example; among the 147,370 repatriated migrants from Mexico in 2016 there were more than 34,000 children and adolescents, including 2,015 unaccompanied or children separated from their families aged between 0 and 11. This case about migrant children, helps us to understand how different the profiles of people needing specific care assistance are. Keeping this premise in mind, we must consider the need for differentiated care measures for every individual migrant profile. As a result, there is a need to analyze migration issues and develop laws or regulations which take the broad range of profiles and protection needs into account as well as, attention and assistance needs. 

One recommended tool can be found in the “IOM specialized course on migrant children” which addresses the many "lenses for analyzing diversity on migration". The following lenses allow us to “gain a better insight” on the needs and the differences of each migrant group.

Human rights lens: puts migrants at the core of our actions and priorities, acknowledging them as rights-holders.

Gender lens: highlights gender inequalities in our societies in order to design strategies geared towards/aimed at reducing them.

Diversity lens: helps us understand that any person’s life experience has uniquely shaped their sexual orientation and identity. Despite of these individuals representing a minority (not being binary or heterosexual) their realities of inequality and discrimination must be taken into consideration.

Interculturalist lens: enables us to realize that other cultures have a different understanding of the world. They also allow us to address those cultures in a respectful and empathetic manner.

The best interests of the child lens: as all human beings, children and adolescents are rights-holders. Depending on their maturity/age, they have different possibilities to exercise them – for instance, with assistance - but all decisions made for them must aim at their best interests.

Participation lens: making decisions based on a child’s best interest doesn’t mean putting the child’s opinions aside. It is much rather shows the need of them being informed and involved in the decision making process, so that they can understand the impact that different options can have on their future.

Progressive autonomy lens: we now recognize that migrants are not a homogenous group – neither are children and adolescents. Their background and maturity is what makes them so unique, which is why care assistance must be based on their particular situation.

The last three lenses are, in fact, fundamental principles of the Child Rights-based approach. However, I wanted to portray them as a part of this analogy so that but those of us, working with migrant children, can integrate all of the above described lenses into our work  to improve our capacities to identify the needs of this population.


About the author:

Alex Rigol Ploettner trabaja actualmente para la OIM como Promotor Local en Tenosique, Tabasco, México. Anteriormente, se desempeñó en materia de derechos humanos en la  Ciudad de México desde la sociedad civil, así como en materia económica en Guatemala con el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo -BID- . Es politólogo por la Universidad de Barcelona (UB) con una maestría en Relaciones Internacionales del Instituto de Barcelona de Estudios Internacionales (IBEI). 

How will COVID-19 affect the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda?

How will COVID-19 affect the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda?
Categoria: Migration Governance
Autor: Laura Thompson


There is no doubt that the current pandemic has a broad humanitarian, social and economic impact in the short, medium and long term, which in turn may affect or delay the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at different levels and in various ways.

The most evident impact, obviously, is on Goal 3, which seeks to guarantee a healthy life and promote well-being. The pandemic has put enormous pressures on health systems not only in relation to the treatment and management of the virus, but also affecting the ability to care for patients who have other diseases and increasing the risk of complications in populations with compromised health states. The pandemic has given greater visibility to the importance of universal access to health systems regardless of people's migratory status. However, the pandemic will also have implications for other aspects of the 2030 Agenda.


Impacts beyond health

COVID-19 is also having a negative impact on the employment, economic and social situation of many households around the world, and on their ability to meet their needs, even the most basic ones. The economic crisis that the countries of the region are facing and the growing unemployment will be decisive in this regard, since apart from the pandemic, Latin America and the Caribbean reached an unemployment rate of 8.1% at the end of 2019, according to the International Labor Organization. And according to ECLAC projections, labor unemployment will rise to 11.5% in the same region, as a result of the contraction of economic activity by COVID-19.

Unemployment and the loss of purchasing power affect more severely migrant populations, since they are very often employed in the informal sector of the economy and have more precarious contractual working conditions, particularly women migrant workers. In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, informal work engages around 50% of the total number of people employed. The increase in unemployment will impact the scope of Goal 8 (on full and productive employment and decent work for all), but also Goal 1 (the fight against poverty), Goal 2 (the eradication of hunger, food security and better nutrition), Goal 5 (gender equality and empowerment of women and girls), and targets 5.2, 8.7 and 16.2, on trafficking and exploitation of people. ECLAC also emphasizes that Latin America and the Caribbean is already suffering a fall of -5.3% in GDP, the worst in its history.

Likewise, this pandemic could accentuate existing inequalities in societies, as well as the vulnerabilities of certain population groups, and consequently delay the achievement of Goal 10, which seeks to reduce inequalities between and within countries. In this context, migrants are one of those vulnerable groups that have been particularly affected by the pandemic and that are often left behind or forgotten in social protection and economic relaunch plans, or have limited access to them, either because of language barriers or because of their immigration status. All of this despite the enormous contribution that migrant workers make to the operation of essential basic services in many countries, as has become evident during this crisis.

Additionally, a decrease in the amount of international remittances is projected, which, according to the World Bank, would be reduced between 10% and 19.3% by 2020. Remittances are a fundamental component in the economy of some countries in the region, where they can amount to between 5% and 20% of the national Gross Domestic Product. A significant reduction in remittances would jeopardize the ability of many households in those countries to meet their most basic needs and their ability to invest in improving nutrition, education, and reducing child labor, among others, further emphasizing existing inequalities.

Finally, at the state level, due to the economic slowdown we are experiencing and urgent health needs, it is very likely that there will be a decrease in social spending or a reorientation of available resources, potentially at the expense of the more comprehensive vision contained in the Sustainable Development Goals, again affecting the scope of the transversal objectives of the 2030 Agenda.


Recovery and SDGs: the same path

But this should not lead us to pessimism and to think that we have lost the fight to achieve the SDGs. On the contrary, it is essential at this time to work together and forcefully to identify the additional difficulties that the current pandemic presents in achieving the 2030 Agenda. We must redouble our commitment and our efforts to ensure that the impact of the pandemic is incorporated into national plans and international assistance, as well as that the different realities and vulnerabilities of some specific groups are incorporated.

For this we must work from now on to ensure the universal attention of the health and education systems; in reducing remittance transfer costs (a topic included in Goal 10), as El Salvador is already doing, creating more resilient and inclusive cities in line with Goal 11 or strengthening forms of regular migration for migrant workers and decent working conditions (Goal 8).

The time is now: all organizations, governments and individuals have an important role in ensuring that the efforts for our Latin American region and the world to recover from the serious effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are aligned with the 2030 Agenda and that we make sure we do not leave anyone behind.