What is a migration crisis and how to address it integrally

Qué es una crisis migratoria y cómo atenderla integralmente
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A migration crisis is short for “crisis with migration dimensions”. A migration crisis can generate population movements within or outside the borders of a country. This may occur suddenly or gradually, and is affected by migratory movements prior to the crisis, as well as changes in subsequent migration patterns. The term migration crisis describes complex and generally large-scale migration flows, as well as the mobility patterns caused by a crisis that often lead to considerable vulnerabilities for affected people and communities, and pose serious migration management challenges in the longer term.

Migration crises have several faces, so when using the expression, you can be referring to international migrants who are affected by a crisis when they are in their destination country, or you can refer to the migratory flows resulting from the instability and protracted conflicts in a region, among other possible scenarios.

To respond effectively to the different scenarios of a migration crisis, IOM developed the Operational Migration Crisis Operational Framework (MCOF) in 2012, in order to support affected communities in accessing their fundamental rights of protection and assistance. The framework is based on international humanitarian and human rights legislation, and humanitarian principles. It also combines humanitarian activities, recovery and transition to development with migration management services as a cross-cutting priority.

MCOF has 3 pillars:

Pillar 1- The phase of time, that is, before, during and after the crisis.

Pillar 2- The 15 sectors of assistance, from humanitarian to development to address the migration crisis and its consequences in the short, medium and long term.

Pillar 3- Associations and coordination, which are necessary with the relevant actors, sector groups coordinated by OCHA, and established United Nations systems.

For a comprehensive approach to a crisis, the assistance sectors (pillar 2) are implemented in the before, during and after, which implies varying the focus and activities according to the needs of each phase of time. The 15 assistance sectors are as follows:

1. Camp management and displacement mapping, to provide decent living conditions for displaced persons and migrants on the move, facilitating effective assistance and protection in temporary accommodation (transit centers, shelters, reception centers, collective centers, formal and informal camps, etc.). Data processing and dissemination is essential for effective assistance (IOM developed a tool called DTM).

As an example, according to the Strategic Binational Plan MOCM Costa Rica - Panama (2017-2019), to address the presence of large groups of migrants stranded in small communities located near border areas and the problems that this entails (both at the level of access to services and the risk of xenophobia), two specific actions were presented in this assistance sector: 1) In the pre-crisis phase, develop guides and strengthen the capacity of governments and partner organizations; and 2) During the crisis, “support [in] the provision of humanitarian assistance and protection to migrants in transit. Follow up and monitor the movement of migrants and their needs.”

2. Shelter and non-food items, to address the needs of temporary accommodation and non-food items of people affected by the crisis. Assistance includes the coordination of logistics, technical support and the relevant distribution of both the infrastructure and non-food items.

3. Transportation assistance for affected populations, since it is of the utmost importance that there is an entity responsible for providing safe transport, within or outside the borders. Transportation will be necessary in evacuations, resettlements, repatriation and returns, among others.

4. Health support, necessary to save lives and to prevent communicable diseases during the crisis and movement. In the region, the plan between Costa Rica and Panama put this assistance section into practice before the crisis through the development of the capacities of governments and partner agencies in preventive health care and migrant health, development of instruments, and the strengthening of a network of experts in health emergencies.

5. Psychosocial support, to support and protect affected populations to reduce psychosocial vulnerabilities and promote community resilience, including fostering community resilience and feelings of belonging.

 6. (Re)integration assistance, which seeks to end the situations of displacement of people affected by the crisis by supporting durable solutions and reintegration. This assistance is also provided to migrants voluntarily returned to their countries of origin. Citizen participation, listening to the community and conducting civic monitoring are key actions for a successful reintegration of returning migrants.

7. Community stabilization and transition, necessary to lay the foundation for durable solutions. Peacekeeping and sustainable development can include the creation of short-term jobs and promoting socio-economic initiatives, although it will always depend on the needs specific to each population. This assistance is given to local governments and community to face socio-economic and political changes after a crisis, restoring stability and security in vulnerable communities and preventing future forced migrations.

8. Disaster risk reduction and resilience building, with actions aimed at reducing and mitigating the risk of displacement and increasing the resilience of communities to face disasters while contributing to achieve sustainable development.

The current MOCM 2017-2019 of the Dominican Republic, facing an environment characterized by ethnic tensions and with the presence of recurring natural events that affect the population, raised the improvement of precarious housing and repair of community infrastructure.

9. Land and property support, with actions to assist governments and communities to address land and property issues, thus preventing future forced migration, allowing work on durable solutions to continuous displacement and also facilitating return and reintegration.

10. Counter-trafficking and protection of vulnerable migrants, since, particularly during crises, affected people consider taking high-risk routes and methods of migration, leaving them vulnerable to organized criminal groups. It focuses on actions that offer protection and assistance to vulnerable migrants, victims of trafficking, abuse and exploitation and especially unaccompanied migrant children during the crisis.

11. Technical assistance for humanitarian border management, oriented towards actions that support states in strengthening their immigration and border management capacity. In the case of the current MOCM in Mexico, for example, to address the migratory flow peaks that periodically occur and that sometimes exceed state capacities and address the flows during the crisis, the document proposes to provide registration systems for displaced populations that move through border checkpoints.

12. Emergency consular assistance, which implies supporting states to offer efficient consular services during the emergency. In addition, to provide nationals of other countries caught in the crisis, the issuance of emergency documents and safe-conduct documents to help alleviate their needs, especially during the crisis, where for fear of possible deportations, people may decide not to access attendance points.

13. Diaspora and human resource mobilization, to involve the capacities and financial resources of the diaspora as support in the reconstruction of communities in situations when possible.

14. Migration policy and legislation support, that is, actions to support states, communities and individuals to build or strengthen inclusive migration policies. It also proposes effective and humane migration management in crisis situations, and fulfill the responsibilities to protect vulnerable mobile populations affected by the crisis.

15. Humanitarian communications through activities that support the creation or reinforcement of two-way communication channels with the communities. It is essential that useful information exchange channels be generated both for the affected communities and for the humanitarian actors, so that they can adjust their actions according to the needs expressed directly by the population. The messages must have intercultural considerations that reject xenophobia and discrimination.


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.