UN Migration Agency Brings Together Embassy Representatives to Discuss Best Practices to Assist Nationals Trapped in Emergencies Abroad
Tunis – IOM Libya and Tunisia are jointly organizing a two-day workshop this week (28-29 September) titled “Coordination for Improved Assistance to Nationals Abroad in Emergencies” for embassy representatives from 16 countries.
The workshop, Assisting Nationals Abroad in Emergencies, held in Tunis, brought together 30 diplomatic staff from 14 African countries, in addition to Bangladeshi and Pakistani embassy personnel, and was funded by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), under the US Department of State. The workshop is part of the Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) initiative, a government-led effort co-chaired by the United States and the Philippines which aims to improve the protection of migrants when the countries in which they live, work, study, transit, or travel experience a conflict or natural disaster.
Another goal of the workshop is to raise awareness of personnel of foreign services and other home country actors about the specific vulnerability of their nationals in the face of different types of crises, provide concrete informational and practical guidance and to reduce the vulnerability of nationals abroad through the delivery of appropriate and accessible information.
The training course aims to provide tools to identify vulnerabilities and the resources including lessons learned from past experiences that can be used to form and implement targeted interventions.
Hosted by Lorenzo Guadagno, manager of MICIC’s building programme, the workshop included sessions on gathering information on migrants abroad, either through awareness campaigns or communicating with migrants before and during emergencies. There was a particular focus on migrants’ vulnerabilities in Libya.
“Migrants are not necessarily vulnerable, but they can easily become vulnerable in times of crisis,” Guadagno said during the opening session. “Therefore it is essential to develop an inclusive approach and effective collaboration to respond to emergencies. Workshops like this are an excellent opportunity for dialogue.”
Embassy representatives Bella Kalanga (from the Democratic Republic of the Congo), and Ahmed Boubegra (Algeria), each stressed “the importance of sharing experiences as well as competences of neighboring countries so as to develop long-term migration strategies.”
Some of the challenges addressed by participants included humanitarian access to migrants in remote areas, the influence of human trafficking and smuggling networks that cross borders in Africa, lack of registration of migrants and communication and language barriers, which make both migrants and nationals vulnerable.
The capacity building and coordination workshop also included concrete measures on contingency planning at the consular post level, provision of relief and recovery assistance, evacuation of children and identifying priorities.
Chamsiya Moundji, representative of the Comoro Islands, explained: “The migration phenomena has been of increased interest for our compatriots in Tunisia for the past two years; therefore, it is important to learn from partners in other countries that are more experienced in this realm, and this workshop provides an opportunity to exchange experiences.”
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