Webinar Stresses Bolstering State Mechanisms to Minimize Adverse Drivers of Migration

Distinguished speakers at a virtual meeting on Tuesday underscored the need for bolstering state mechanisms to address drivers of migration, including adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters and human-made crisis to pave the way for safe, orderly and regular migration.

Highlighting the objectives of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM), they suggested the countries to maximize migrants’ protection and assistance, sustainable development, employment generation and poverty eradication with a view to help prevention of the risky cross-border human mobility.

The global migration experts made their remarks and observations while speaking at the webinar on the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) "Objective 2: Minimize the Adverse Drivers and Structural Factors that Compel People to Leave their Country of Origin"

It was the second webinar under the certificate course programme organized jointly by the Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), Cross-Regional Centre for Refugees and Migration (CCRM), Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism (GRFDT) and Civil Society Action Committee (CSAC).

Moderating the webinar, Roula Hamati, Coordinator, Cross Regional Center for Refugees and Migrants, Lebanon mentioned the drivers of migration which were connected with so many issues in the countries of origins.

She asked the panelists to elaborate whether implementation of Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 agenda was enough or not to further implement the GCM that was adopted by the UN member states in a global summit of Morocco in 2018.

Taking part in the discussion, MFA’s regional coordinator William Gois said that migration has been the result of some structural inequality. He stressed the need for managing the outflow of the people and addressing the prevailing challenges amid COVID context.

“The COVID has once again backed to the fundamentals, broadened the situation of disproportionate kind of inequalities,” he said, adding how developing countries that would be impacted or have been impacted more by the pandemic were dealing with the issue.

He said that migration issues being put in place in terms of migration governance by the UN system, the GCM were little of them had for uptake during the COVID pandemic.

William said that there were no immediate recourse system for the countries taking the issue as ad-hoc basis and mentioned that migrant workers amid the pandemic were mistreated putting them down to “zeroes from heroes” blaming spread of viruses. 

Shabari Nair who took up position of Labour Migration Specialist for South Asia, based in the ILO Decent Work Technical Support Team (DWT) in New Delhi, also joined the webinar and said that in South Asia region the countries were seen in ‘very competition’ between them about outgoing migration, even in pandemic situation.

“The competition is leading to the adverse drivers of migration,” he said.

Stressing positive statement of drivers, he said that “aspiration” has become an important driver of migration and “it should be recognized.”

Over many years, the countries have not been seen to take effective action to mainstream the migration, Shabari said, adding that the countries have always taken migration as “fringe topic” showing negligence to the issue.

Focusing on youths, he noted that large number of youths were emerging as the driving force and were desperately trying to leave their countries, they should be given emphasis.

Speaking as panelist, Walden Bello, International Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton, discussed the internal drivers of migration in the context of the Philippines and Mexico.

“Labour export has served as an economic safety valves absorbing surplus labour created by neoliberal policies in dependent capitalist countries like Mexico and the Philippines,” he said in his statement.

Walden Bellow, also Co-chair of the board of trustees of Focus on the Global South, said that labour export unfortunately as political safety valves deflected popular energies from accumulation to a critical mass to which “the elite cannot but respond with major social and political reforms.”

Another speaker Vivianne Van Der Vorst, IOM Senior Regional Project Manager noted that drivers of migration has not been new in the landscape of human mobility.

“Drivers are ether economic or voluntary or forced. If you want to understand the drivers, it is important to first of all to understand the general overview of multi-complexity of migration," she said.

Vivianne mentioned that they were conducting more studies to get the drivers of migration to be related with the migrant’s social networking and the origin countries’ geographical conditions, political cultures and other issues.

In his statement, David Khoudour, Human Mobility Advisor, Human Mobility Team, UNDP Crisis Bureau in New York highlighted the positive notion of migration contributing to the economic development of the host and home countries.

“Migration is also a driver for the economic development. Migrants are not only coming from the poor countries, most of them are from the middle income countries.”

He said that stable social safety net, access to employment and improving their livelihood status could lead to minimizing adverse drivers of migration.

Illustrious panelist Kayly Ober, also Senior Advocate and Program Manager of Climate Displacement Program of Refugees International (RI) said that engagement of the climate change has emerged as a major driver of migration and it has been a relatively new driver.

“Climate change is not a future crisis, it is happening now, it’s happening today….. It is a factor affecting people,” she said, adding that large parts in Asia including over third of Bangladesh, places in Africa and other regions were getting affected by the adverse impact of climate change.

Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, Secretary General of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) said that Bangladesh loaded with huge population, acute unemployment and extreme poverty has been sending about 700,000 short-term migrant workers abroad annually.

About 12 million Bangladeshi workers currently work in 170 countries and most of them have been sent by recruiting agencies.

Due to COVID-19, he said that labour migration has been badly affected as hundreds of Bangladeshis became jobless at destinations and they were returning home.

Besides, said Shameem that thousands of workers with employment visas got stranded inside the country due to suspension of flights and closure of borders of destinations.

He called for revamping education and training facilities in Bangladesh to groom skilled manpower to get them hired in the country and sending them to diversified destinations.

“Over 600,000 foreign workers mostly from India and Sri Lanka are working in Bangladesh” and their posts could be replaced by Bangladeshis after upgrading their skills, he opined.

Bijaya Rai Shrestha, Founding Chairperson, AMKAS Nepal, said that migration of women workers has never been a choice rather it has been forced for them.

“Women migrant workers used to migrate to overseas destinations without having knowledge and proper training and they were often fallen in vulnerabilities.”

She said that the governments in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, sometime put restrictions on female migration and the ban has increased incidents of the trafficking of women in the sub-continent.

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, she noted that women migrant workers were stigmatized and blamed for spreading the virus. “We have to work together to uphold dignity of migrant workers including women,” she said.

Structural factors including conflicts, violence, human rights violations, and persecution are forcing millions of people to leave their homelands alongside economic development and aspiration for better lives were causing human mobility across the globe.

Objective 2 of GCM specifically focuses on State commitments in relation to “natural disasters, the adverse effects of climate change, and environmental degradation”.

There are some obligations explained to highlight actions by the States to take towards achieving the overall aim of Objective 2, for people to lead peaceful, productive and sustainable lives in their own country.

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