AWO Partners observe International Migrants Day 2015

Till date 1 Million refugees are registered in Germany in 2015. While most of those migrants rescued their life from civil war and insecurities migration patterns in South Asia are different as labour migration turned out as an economic survival strategy for many families. As per data of the United Nations in 2013 more than 232 million people have lived outside their country of origin. This is an increase of 33 per cent, compared to the year 2000. Also numbers of internal migrants are rising.

The International Migrants Day (IMD), is observed since 2004 commemorating all people around the globe who had the courage to leave their country and language behind, along with their friends, family members, and everything they have ever truly known to get at a better life somewhere else and to support their families at home.

IMD Celebrations in Bangladesh:

On 18th of December 2015, AWO International’s partner organization WARBE Development Foundation, the Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment, UN agencies and other Civil Society Organizations celebrated the IMD in Bangladesh.  Rallies with more than 2000 participants started from the National Parliament in the capital Dhaka and in different district capitals of Bangladesh urging the need to improve policies, implementation of law and to assure migrant’s rights in destination countries.
Hon’ Minister of Expatriates welfare and Overseas Employment, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Local development, Secretaries from other ministries, Director General from  Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET),  civil society organizations, technical training centers, university students, potential and returnee migrants and families of migrants abroad participated. Likewise, private associations working for overseas recruitment, the Bangladesh Association of International Recruitment Agencies (BAIRA), private and government banks were also among the participant for the rally that ended with a human chain at a convention center where the Minister of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment formally inaugurated program with a speech.

Saiful Syed Haque, chairperson of WARBE Development Foundation highlighted in his speech that female migrants are suffering worst in the destination countries, but government officials would rarely support them. Further he also suggested having more female staffs in the labour wings of the embassies abroad which would help them to get faster services in need.

In the IMD fare information stalls from different stakeholder (i.e banks, recruiting agencies, NGO’s, UN agencies, Money transfers) etc. provided materials on safe migration, recruitment and different initiatives taken by NGO’s to potential migrants and family members of migrants.

In addition to this, WARBE Development Foundation also bid farewell and felicitated around 200 migrants who were going abroad and arriving at Dhaka International airport, together with Additional Secretaries and other officials from the Ministry of Expatriates and an AWO International representative. In the felicitation program the importance of labour migration such as risks and safety measures for the migrants were pointed out. Sushant Sharma, AWO International’s Program Coordinator for Bangladesh, highlighted the need for a productive use of remittances that also benefits women and children such as access to health and education.

IMD Celebrations in Nepal

In Nepal migration rates have further increased dramatically in the last quarter. It is estimated that 4,5 Million Nepalese are living abroad. Social consequences in the source villages are widely seen. Many Nepali migrant workers have traumatic experiences abroad and especially women often phase physical, psychological and sexual violence and exploitation. Human Trafficking in Nepal as well as in India and Bangladesh is more and more linked to voluntarily initiated, unsafe labour migration.

AWO International’s partner organization POURAKHI Nepal has organized a one week long program at a national level and celebrated the International Migrants Day in all 16 working Districts. On 17th December 2015, a “Workers Hearing” program and a “Round Table Meeting with Policy Makers and Practioners” took place.  Both events were focusing on the situation of workers in the destination countries.

For example in context of Lebanon where the Nepalese Government had decided for a ban for Nepali migrant workers after Human Rights Watch reported about cruel treatments of migrants and the suicide cases were increasing dramatically in 2010.  Unofficial sources estimate that Lebanon is still a job market for over 18.000 Nepalis and 95 per cent of them are women. Only half of the workers are documented. According to the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), 9,730 Nepalis were hired in other destination countries so far.

Both events were fruitful to showcase the despairing situation between policy and the reality and highlighted how recruiting agencies have “supplied” Nepali women illegally. The discussion showed that a ban is not a solution for foreign employment, especially to women, as unsafe migration ways increase. It was also urged to the government that time has come to explore other regions of the world (for example European countries) rather the Middle East to make women foreign employment more safe.

The AWO supported social structures, the multi stakeholder “Community Alert Groups”, also observed the day by organizing awareness rallies and interactions with local government stakeholders in the project villages. Returnee migrants from Dubai, Lebanon, Malaysia and Kuwait shared their experiences of the foreign employment. Many expressed that they had no idea about safe migration processes when they went out. They shared their insider knowledge with potential migrants and promised to do so also in future to increase safe migration.

Amid the week long International Migrants day celebrations AWO International’s partner organizations NEEDS Nepal, implementing a cooperation project in Kanchanpur and Doti district, organized various programs to raise awareness on safe migration including foreign employment processes and to showcase problems faced by migrants especially those who seasonally migrate to India, by street drama and interactions with district stakeholders. Local journalists were introduced in the migration scenario and in the Foreign Employment Act of the Nepalese Government. The newly formed social structure of the “Spouse Groups” showcases problems faced by current migrants and solutions to avoid them through street drama in two project VDCs. NEEDS Nepal also shared the finding of a rapid assessment in context of India migration in the project areas among government and non-government stakeholders.

In 2015 AWO International addressed safe migration and human trafficking in 8 development projects in India, Nepal and Bangladesh and in one Earthquake Relief Program that was implemented in Nepal and in the Indian border Region. The information campaign against forced migration and counter trafficking of girls and women after the devastating earthquakes on 25th April and on 7th May 2015 in Nepal had an outreach to 31 Districts of Nepal and to the Indian state of Uttar Pradhesh.

Minister of Expatriate Welfare inaugurates the IMD celebrations in Dhaka

IMD Rally in Dhaka

IMD Rallies took place in different parts of Bangladesh

AWO International Program Coordinator speaks at Dhaka International Airport

Visiting potential migrants in the safe migration fair in Dhaka

Pourakhi participates in a huge IMD rally in Kathmandu

Local Development Officer of Doti District in Nepal interacts with returnee migrants