June 22, 2016, NEW YORK—With the support of various private sectors, international communities, and organizations, the Migrants in Countries in Crisis Initiative (MICIC) launched the Guidelines to protect migrants in countries experiencing conflict and natural disasters on last Wednesday, June 15, at United Nations Headquarters, New York.
The MICIC Initiative is composed of 15 concrete guidelines to offer protection and education to migrants that are stranded in countries affected by conflict or natural disaster based on ten international law and humanitarian principles. The Guidelines, spearheaded by the Philippines and the United States, promote frameworks and mechanisms to protect migrants. They aim to support the many people who have experienced and are experiencing suffering related to migration by ensuring migrants’ well-being and protecting their rights by providing mechanisms, policies, and programs to those affected by crisis.
Anne Richard, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration of the United States, stated that “no country is immune to conflict or natural disaster,” a point that William Lacy Swing, Director General for the International Organization for Migration, reiterated. According to them both, we have a “collective responsibility” to improve our practices and increase the protection of migrants by constantly safeguarding their dignity and safety in light of their increased risk of exploitation.
The panelists also proposed concrete solutions to migration crises. The International Organization is taking concrete steps to ameliorate the lives of migrants, such as an e-learning program for tracking migrants and developing contingency programs, a smartphone app, and a training course designed to help host countries better understand, communicate with, and assist migrant groups. Jack Suwanlert, Director of Support and Intelligence, Global Safety and Security Department of Marriott International Hotels, also gave a unique perspective on migration, calling upon businesses big and small to be supportive of migrants by providing them with jobs and internet access and encouraging them to register with their consulate.
The Initiative complements existing legal frameworks and stresses that all migrants have human rights. Towards the end of the meeting, supporting countries such as Australia, Bangladesh, Mexico, Costa Rica, Switzerland, and Ethiopia stressed the idea that we must always put the human person first and at the center of everything that we do. WYA encourages all countries to ensure that their migration policies have the human person and respect for human dignity at their foundation.
Currently, WYA does not have an official declaration on immigration. However, Migration and Development will be the theme of our 2017 International Solidarity Forum in March. Do you want to be part of the declaration negotiation? Visit our website at www.wya.net/programs/isf to learn more about how you can participate.
Ana Mariela Gonzales (Philippines), Annamica Reding (USA) and Danielle Schmalz (USA) are interns at World Youth Alliance Headquarters in New York.