Solidarity: The reason why Central American migrants stopped their journey

 

Wilson, a 25-year-old Honduran, had recently started his journey towards the United States. On the night of September 7, Wilson was staying in a shelter for migrants in Ixtepec in southern Mexico. Ten minutes before midnight the earth started to shake so hard, fell out of his bed. “It seemed like the end of the world”, he recalls.

The 8.2 magnitude quake in Mexico was recorded as the strongest in the country’s history. Another Honduran immigrant, Joel, who was trying to cross irregularly into the United States, was flabbergasted by the sound of the earth moving, by seeing buildings crumble down and witnessing a person fainting in the middle of the street.

When the earth stopped moving, Joel, Wilson and other migrants were staying at the shelter. They started talking to  other people who had just arrived at the shelter and they had  bad news: the situation was critical. Hundreds of people were injured and remained under the collapsed buildings and the rubble. The group of migrants had the idea to stay and help out and shared it with Ernesto, one of the shelter’s coordinators. The next morning, they started assisting people.

Wilson, a member of the brigade.

“Migrants were the first to help”, that’s what the Mexican people of the affected communities from Ixtepec said. This brigade of approximately 30 people engaged in debris removal using their bare hands. They were digging through the debris of collapsed buildings to recover people’s belongings or to rescue the injured people they found. We only had two shovels that we found at the shelter, so we were taking turns to use these rescue tools. When one person was using a shovel, everyone else was using their hands”, explained Wilson. A woman noticed the men trying to help and immediately offered to lend them her tools in exchange for some help to clean her house, which had also been affected by the disaster.  

On September 19 Mexico was struck by a second earthquake. Wilson and most of the members of the improvised brigade were still helping to repair the damage caused by the first quake in Oaxaca two weeks earlier. Their hands were covered in blisters and wounds but with their simple tools they proceeded to help in those areas, that were hit the hardest.

“Migrants are abused and mistreated by some people. Unlike what most of those people  think, we are good people” - Joel.

Solidarity was the reason why every single member of this group of migrants postponed their trip. In their hearts and their minds, they were not thinking about anything other than staying and helping the Mexican people. According to Joel, a lot of people couldn’t believe that migrants were helping, but through their actions they showed that many negative stereotypes towards migrants are false. “They were amazed by the fact that we were migrants and that we were helping them, because we got to some affected areas that not even the Mexicans could get to.”

Most of the members of this brigade were forced to flee from Central America. They were in search of a better life and working conditions to help their families back home. Joel decided to take this journey to help his child, and because he was being threatened by organized crime. 

“The gangs in Honduras gave me 24 hours to leave the country. I had to go because if a gang member gives you 24 hours to leave, after 25 hours you’re dead.” - Joel.

Currently, Wilson and Joel are looking for a temporary job in Mexico to continue helping their families in their home countries. When it comes to assisting people, they won’t hesitate to do so.

 

Joel, another member of the brigade.  

 

 

 About the author:

Jean Pierre Mora Casasola is a Communications Specialist at IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean. He has served as a consultant in different social organizations and in the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). He holds a Degree in Advertising from the University “Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología” (ULACIT), and he is currently getting a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations at the same university.  Twitter: @jeanpierremora 

 


The missing link: using new data for migration governance

Categoria:
Autor: Guest Contributor

The lack of consistent data and collection techniques among countries inhibits the accurate identification of migration trends, as well as the impact that migration has on the institutional framework, economy and wellbeing of people in a country or region.

What are the challenges in migration data?

The first objective for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration stresses the importance of investing in the collection and use of accurate data to conduct evidence-based policy-making.

However, due to lack of technical resources, human capacity and/or funding, many states share limitations in the systematic collection and management of migration data.

According to IOM’s Migration Data Portal, there is more data collected on topics like migrant stocks and remittances, whereas topics such as migration flows, smuggling, migrant health, integration and the impact of migration policies have significant data gaps.

Many developing states simply don’t have the capacity to collect and systematize data at a nationwide scale. For example, according to IOM’s regional report, all ten Commonwealth Caribbean countries have departments or offices dedicated to the development of statistical information, but Jamaica is the only country which has collected migration data that can be systematically disaggregated.

Disaggregated data is particularly valuable, allowing states and organizations to have information on people that is comparable by sex, age, migration status and other relevant characteristics. This way, needs for specific migrant groups like children or women can be made visible and addressed.

The gaps in migrant data can also be largely attributed to the lack of mechanisms that facilitate information sharing between different government agencies and organisms.

All countries maintain records on entries and exits, visas, and permits, but many of them implement different data collection and management practices. Thus, policies between and in states are sometimes incoherent, and countries must work with only patches of information, which restricts their ability to apply a holistic government approach to migration governance.

Amidst these challenges, countries and the international community continue to work towards effectively filling these gaps to attend peoples’ needs.

The promise of new data

In the past, the main method of collecting data was through traditional sources like household surveys, national censuses and administrative records. These sources have a high cost and limitations, like inflexible designs in surveys for example.

Today, new or innovative data sources such as geospatial data, satellite imagery, mobile device data and social media data are gaining momentum fast. These sources represent a huge opportunity given the increased availability of digital records, wider coverage, timeliness, and practically no limitations on how frequently the information can be updated.

The potential applications of new data for migration seem promising. Big data in particular can help anticipate migration trends and movements based on data from social media platforms like Facebook or even from online searches. This same data can also contribute to monitoring public opinion and media discourse on migration at a much lower cost than public surveys.

Nevertheless, the use of new data (especially big data) presents several challenges:

  • Ethical and privacy issues: Automatically generated data raises concerns about confidentiality, misuse and security risks such as surveillance. In the case of IOM, our Data Protection Manual outlines our principles and standards for data governance.
  • Information bias: Big data is inherently biased. Social media and mobile phone users naturally do not represent the entire population, since some segments are over-represented, while other segments don’t use or have access to technology due to factors such as age, sex and economic level. 
  • Technical challenges: Data held by private actors or government entities may be difficult to access or use due to security or legal reasons. One could also encounter weak security systems and inappropriate infrastructure for data collection and management. Additionally, technological change and innovation occur at a fast pace, leading to issues of data continuity.

The way we process and share information is changing, so it’s only responsible that we also work on integrating new and traditional methods with new ones, while improving expertise in new types of data, data analytics (such as machine learning) and use. For management and use, interagency coordination is key, as well as the collaboration with both private and public sectors to transform data into policies that impact real people’s lives and contribute to sustainable development.

Along this line, IOM is currently in the process of implementing a project financed by the International Development Fund (IDF) to strengthen the institutional capacities for migration through the development of a migration information system that will allow Mesoamerican and Caribbean countries to have data on migration relevant for the design of migration policies. 

One of the main activities of this project consists of creating a Regional Network for the development of a Virtual Information Platform for Migration Governance (VIPMG). This Network will work on the exchange of migratory information (records of international arrivals and departures, residences, returns and other administrative data), as well as strengthening coordination and information flows between countries.

This platform aims to include preliminary statistics and analytics of administrative data to provide decision-makers with evidence-based information to support policy-making, thus assisting in improving data management capacities in order to use administrative data to its full potential, and provide information to monitor the Sustainable Development Goals related to migration.

The Northern Triangle Migration Information Initiative (NTMI) also aims to fill gaps in data migration(such as data on returning migrants and registration coverage) and enable informed decision-making, but is focused on populations in the Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras). NTMI has generated reliable information on migration, displacement and its relationship with development for its stakeholders in the region. 

Other resources:

IOM’s Migration Data Portal: https://migrationdataportal.org/

IOM’s Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS): https://www.iom.int/sites/default/files/our_work/DMM/IBM/updated/midas-brochure18-v7-en_digital-2606.pdf

UN Global Working Group (GWG) on Big Data for Official Statistics: https://unstats.un.org/bigdata/

IOM report, More than numbers: How data can have real impact on migration governancehttps://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/industries/public%20sector/our%20insights/how%20migration%20data%20can%20deliver%20real%20life%20benefits%20for%20migrants%20and%20governments/more-than-numbers.ashx

 Northern Triangle Migration Information Initiative (NTMI) project (Gestión de Información de Movilidad Humana en el Triángulo Norte): https://mic.iom.int/