The digital transformation, the exponential spread of digital technologies, digitalization, and the use of digital technologies to add value offer an opportunity to develop and deliver tailored and innovative services to both migrants and communities. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has stimulated digital innovation on a global scale, connecting millions of migrants with their families and communities around the world. Various actors across the world have turned towards innovative digital solutions to address the social isolation, loneliness and inequitable access to services that pandemic-related restrictions and measures can bring.
However, the pandemic has also brought to the fore the increased risk of excluding already marginalized groups. While digital innovation has enabled access to services for those who were previously hard to reach, the benefits of digital innovation are not equally distributed. Migrants who lack access to online connectivity, digital devices and skills have been further isolated. At the same time, the rise of and lack of moderating influence of various online media platforms have created an echo chamber of targeted online campaigns of disinformation, hostility and out right hate speech against marginalized groups.
Policies and interventions that do not take adequate measures to address 'digital poverty' and discrimination in online fora run the risk of worsening social isolation and broaden disparities within society.
Recognizing these immediate challenges, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been at the forefront of developing and adapting its interventions in the field to harness the opportunities but also address the risks digitalization can bring.
Migrant E-nclusion: Advancing Migrants’ Digital Inclusion to Foster Integration and Social Cohesion.
Within the framework of the IOM Joint Global Initiative on Diversity, Inclusion and Social Cohesion (DISC), the Migrant E-nclusion project aims to enhance IOM capacity to innovate and facilitate inclusive digital solutions in IOM’s pre- and post- arrival programming to support migrant inclusion and social cohesion. Advancing the digital inclusion and capacity building of migrants and communities is in line with the commitments enshrined in the UNSG Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and the UNSG Our Common Agenda.
- Migrant E-nclusion Project Scope
While there is an emerging transition of a wide range of programmatic activities into digital spaces, there is currently limited effort to take stock of these developments, as well as leverage digital solutions and digital upskilling of migrants and diaspora communities for long-term integration and sustainable development. As IOM offices, public authorities and other practitioners continue to face similar challenges related to digital inclusion and literacy, service provision and the broader issue of social exclusion, there is an urgent need for a structured and collaborative exchange and learning to promote equitable and sustainable solutions to promote safe and orderly labour mobility and migrant’s digital inclusion.
The topic of digital inclusion has gained a bigger traction in programming as IOM began delivering virtual and remote training and services to migrants which include digital pre-departure orientation, distance language learning, virtual counseling, digital job fairs, as well as digital film screening, virtual concerts and at-home talent contests, as well as community-driven digital campaigns to combat xenophobia and hate speech (see: IOM DISC Digest on Digitalization).
The Migrant E-nclusion project aims to provide spaces for collaborative exchange through a series of key informant interviews, focus-group discussions, and thematic workshops. Through these exchanges, the project will provide a collaborative and multi-stakeholder platform for mutual learning and showcase of case studies and empirical findings that will support evidence-based, actionable recommendations for future programming specifically for migrants admitted through resettlement and complementary pathways.
- Migrant E-nclusion Project Activities
The initiative will systematically explore existing trends on information seeking behavior of newly arrived migrants under resettlement and the types of digital solutions, platforms – starting from pre-departure, reception and post-arrival and across different sectors such as on employment, training and education, health, social connections, etc. In its first phase, the project implements the following activities:
Extensive Assessment. Carry out an extensive assessment of available research on trends, challenges and risks of migrants' digital exclusion and map out relevant best practices and strategies, and interviews from thematic experts.
Network of Expertise. Establish a network of expertise in pre-and post-arrival programming to facilitate structured exchanges and connecting with similar platforms and programmes to build on existing knowledge and scale initiatives.
Collaborative Workshops. Organize collaborative and multi-stakeholder workshops and focused group discussions for systematic exchange of ideas, mutual learning and innovation on empowering migrants to participate in new and emerging digital spaces.
Online Hub and Learning. Establish a dedicated online hub on digitalization and innovation to support knowledge management as well as develop e-learning modules and guidance on pre-departure orientation and social cohesion.
Digital Inclusion Report. Draft a strategic report to identify practical and strategic recommendations for incorporating digital inclusion considerations in pre-and post-arrival programming.
- Contact information
Head of Unit, Migrant Training and Integration
Ace DELA CRUZ
Project Coordinator, Migrant Integration and Social Cohesion
“Digital technology is shaping history. But there is also the sense that it is running away with us. Where will it take us? Will our dignity and rights be enhanced or diminished? Will our societies become more equal or less equal? Will we become more, or less, secure and safe? The answers to these questions depend on our ability to work together across disciplines and actors, across nations and political divides. We have a collective responsibility to give direction to these technologies so that we maximize benefits and curtail unintended consequences and malicious use.”
United Nations Secretary-General Roadmap for Digital Cooperation