IOM and the Philippines to Host Panel on Migrants in Countries in Crisis in Sendai

Sendai, Japan - The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction is underway in Sendai where governments are expected to reach an agreement on a post-2015 framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the first component of the post-2015 global development architecture.

IOM and the Government of the Philippines, in collaboration with the Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Initiative, will host a panel on Building the Resilience of Migrants in Disaster Situations.

IOM’s Director General, Ambassador William Lacy Swing will moderate the panel on Sunday, 15 March, 13:00 to 15:00 in Sendai, Tohoku University, Kawauchi-kita Campus. The side event speakers are from the Governments of Bangladesh and the Philippines, representatives of a civil society organization in Japan and a professor of the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Over the past ten years the world witnessed a number of natural disasters and conflicts, including the Asian tsunami in 2004, the 2011 crisis in Libya, Hurricane Sandy in the United States, and the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami in 2011, in which migrants have been among those seriously affected.

With one in every seven people in the world being a migrant, every country today hosts some type of migrant population.

Given the growing number of migrants around the world, the impact of crises for migrant populations are and will continue to be a significant feature for the foreseeable future. For this reason, migrant populations must be factored into all preparedness measures, humanitarian response mechanisms, recovery and reconstruction.

“Migrants are too often invisible in disasters. Yet their rights, dignity and needs are as important as those of nationals,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing. “The consequences of not addressing the needs and rights of migrants reverberate well beyond migrants themselves and affect families, and host and home communities and societies who depend on them for livelihoods and stability.”

In times of crisis, migrants may suffer specific vulnerabilities that can hamper their access to relief assistance and loss of jobs means families left behind may suffer from a sudden interruption of the flow of remittances – which often times constitute the most important component of their incomes.

“Migrants play a fundamental role in the growth and development of sending as well as receiving countries. Quite often countries of origin may have to face the mass return of a high number of migrants who may go back to their communities having lost their savings and accrued salaries and assets,” said Michele Klein-Solomon, Director of the MICIC Initiative.

“Factoring migrants in preparedness and disaster risk reduction efforts is not only important for protecting their rights, dignity, and wellbeing, but also for strengthening the resilience of individuals, communities and countries to disasters,” she added.

IOM supports governments to respond to the needs of at risk vulnerable migrants in crisis countries including assistance in repatriation to save their lives.

In 2011, IOM assisted the Government of Bangladesh with the repatriation of 36,000 migrant workers evacuated from Libya and further supported their return with livelihood restoration cash assistance.

This year, IOM has already facilitated the evacuation of hundreds of Senegalese migrants from Libya amidst escalating violence as well as Filipino migrants from Syria. IOM has so far assisted the Government of the Philippines in the repatriation of 2,210 Filipino workers.

MICIC is a State-led undertaking seeking to improve the ability of States to better respond to situations where migrants suddenly end up in vulnerable situations in a country in crisis.

This panel will offer an opportunity to discuss how to improve the access of migrants to information before and during disasters, relief and recovery assistance. The discussions will cover possible venues for the inclusion of migrants in disaster risk reduction and disaster risk management policies and measures at local, regional and global levels.

Furthermore, the panel will explore ways in which migrants and diaspora can play a role in the recovery and reconstruction of disaster-hit countries.

More about the event:

For more information, please contact

Chiara Milano
Tel: +41 22 7179322


MICIC Secretariat