Colombo Process States Seek Better Protection for Asian Migrants Caught in Crises

Posted: 
05/26/17

Philippines - This week, (22-23/5), the UN Migration Agency, IOM and ten Colombo Process (CP) member States met in Manila, the Philippines, to discuss practical approaches to protecting their nationals abroad during crises.

The CP, which is also known as the Ministerial Consultation on Overseas Employment and Contractual Labour for Countries of Origin in Asia is currently chaired by Nepal. Countries represented at the meeting included Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.

The two-day meeting came at a time when governments in Asia are increasingly taking steps to better protect migrants caught in countries experiencing humanitarian crises, including natural disasters and conflict.

“People living and working outside their countries of origin are vulnerable and risk becoming stranded abroad in times of crisis,” said Marco Boasso, IOM Philippines Chief of Mission. “They often lack the necessary resources, and access to the services and information they need to address the challenges brought by unforeseen crises,” he added.

The meeting, which focused on IOM’s “Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC)” initiative was organized to enable CP States to exchange lessons learned on how to help nationals stranded abroad in countries experiencing crisis.

It also encouraged CP States to set up a ‘collective preparedness mechanism’ that would allow their consular services during crises to provide protection for the nationals of all CP States – not just their own.

The meeting, which was funded by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM),  followed a call made by the 2016 CP Ministerial Declaration on developing collaborative consular mechanisms, sharing information, and promoting political commitment among CP member States.

“The delegations expressed a readiness to recommend tackling migration crisis interventions in many standing CP Thematic Working Group meetings, including those which refer to pre-departure orientation and empowerment, skills training and ethical recruitment,” noted Gahendra Rajbhandari, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal. 

IOM is already helping to build the capacity of the consular services of Viet Nam, Afghanistan and the Philippines to assist migrants caught in crises. Many of their practices and lessons learned are described in the MICIC Guidelines.

CP States have already made considerable progress in protecting their nationals abroad during crises, notably in Nepal, Syria and Libya.

For further information, please contact Lorenzo Guadagno from the MICIC team at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 22 7179 566, Email: lguadagno@iom.int

Jesus I. Yabes Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs (Philippines) speaking at a Colombo Process Meeting on MICIC in Manila. Pictured with him is Gahendra Rajbhandari of Nepal, as well as representatives of IOM. Photo: IOM