Nearly one year after the COVID-19 pandemic spread at an international level, and with a string of new requests for capacity development assistance in several regions, what are some of the trends that can observed? What are the topics that stand out among the new requests and what can we infer from the situation on the ground? How is capacity development helping government institutions with their needs on migration? These questions have prompted us to delve once more into our portfolio of projects and draw some preliminary observations from the 15 requests collected so far.

1. The importance of communications in the context of crisis management

New Actions in Latin America and the COMESA economic area testify to the importance of communications with migrant populations in the context of crises management, as exemplified by three Actions that have started implementation in early 2021.

  • In Brazil, due to COVID-19, a number of actors have restricted their on-site presence in border reception areas, leading to fewer individuals having personalised access to justice and legal assistance in the asylum procedure. To address this challenge, the Federal Public Defender’s Office (DPU) contacted MIEUX+ to provide capacity development to their staff as well as a network of civil society organisations so they may improve their legal assistance to migrants and asylum seekers. The communications angle comes from the fact that two videos to inform migrants about their rights in regards to international protection as part of DPU efforts to expand the information available on its website and its social media presence to compensate for the reduced amount of face-to-face meetings.

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  • In recent years, Mexico has faced changes in human mobility, large and sudden influx and an increase in the number of people in vulnerable conditions, especially unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents, indigenous communities, non-Spanish speaking groups or people with specific medical needs. Building on from previous Action ‘Protocol of Attention to Migrants in Large Flows in Mexico’ and its Action Plan, MIEUX+ is providing expertise to the National Institute of Migration (INM) to design communication tools for migrants and guidelines to improve assistance to migrants during health contingencies which will be applied in the INM State-level offices across Mexico.

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  • In the COMESA area, a variety of measures were put in place to limit the spread of the virus and protect public health have severely impacted the livelihoods of small-scale cross-border traders, the majority of whom are women or young people. To address this challenge, MIEUX+ is supporting the COMESA Secretariat and several COMESA Member States with the management of migration and mobility in several border postings between Zambia and neighbouring countries Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, as well as the development of communication tools to reach migrant and mobile populations.

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2. Capacity development for better planning in future crises

MIEUX+ partners are applying lessons learned from the current pandemic to creating a more coordinated approach with key stakeholders.

  • In light of the current pandemic and the crucial role of the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica in the management of the outbreak, capacity development regarding the nexus between Migration and Health is a priority. The objective of the fourth MIEUX+ Action in the country will be to systematise the protection and assistance measures taken during the early emergency response stage, as well as the strategies that can be implemented post-crisis through the development of a targeted protocol. MIEUX+ experts will train regional and local officials from the Ministry of Health, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund and the cantonal municipalities. The lessons learnt from this experience will provide further ideas and recommendations on how the Costa Rican institutions could be supported in the short, medium and long term with mainstreaming migration into their institutional capacity development.

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3. Accurate data is needed to assess the scale of climate-induced migration

As the effects of environmentally induced migration are becoming more visible in political agendas, so do the calls for greater amounts of reliable data on the intersection of both phenomena to support the formulation of evidence-based policies as part of government’s commitments to sustainable development.

  • With a new request submitted by the Ministry of Living Environment and Sustainable Development, MIEUX+ will assist the Beninese Government to integrate environmentally induced migration further into national planning, in particular by contributing to Benin’s National Adaptation Plan. In spite of the importance of the topic for Benin’s institutions, limited data on environmentally induced migration is available at national level, neither on foreign migrants transiting to Benin nor on displacements of local populations. A concise ‘Baseline Study on Environmentally Induced Migration’ will serve to understand where the national authorities lack data and facilitate the development of the tools needed for data collection at national level. Furthermore, the background paper ‘Mainstreaming environmentally induced migration in Benin’, which was prepared during a previous Action involving several West African states, will work as a first reference document framing migration within the current discussions on climate change in Benin.

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Demand-driven: an asset in times of uncertainty

In uncertain times, flexible initiatives such as MIEUX+ can accompany institutions in their pursuit of sustainable and rights-based management of migration.

Also, working on a demand-driven basis helps to paint a picture of the needs on the ground. What we can infer from the string of requests submitted between 2021 and early 2021 is that roughly a year after the spreading of the COVID-19 pandemic at an international level many governments are still adapting their practices to react to fast-changing environments and needs. This reality took us back to one of the discussions we nurtured during the 2018 Regional Knowledge Sharing Roundtable in Mexico City, one of the delegates reflected on how practices are created first as a reaction to an unknown situation to which a given institution needs to respond to and then integrated into workflow gradually.

In 2021 and beyond, MIEUX+ Actions will help governments and other stakeholders to inspire each other by sharing practices, solutions and actions on a range of different topics. Aside from what has been mentioned above, new requests in the pipeline include consular assistance, case assessment and management in international protection, integration of refugees, and countering trafficking, with COVID-19 as a major factor driving the need for innovation, resilience and sustainability.