This article looks back on the past 12 months of MIEUX+ Actions. The new reality brought on by the partial recovery from COVID-19 has shifted certain priorities and needs on the ground for MIEUX+ partners.
During 2022, partial recovery from COVID-19 allowed the MIEUX+ team to resume travel and for partners to resume projects that had been in the pipeline for some time. As more Actions got under way, the global portfolio grew, achieving a greater geographical balance across all MIEUX+ regions. The demand-driven nature of these Actions allows us to explore some of the priorities and pressing needs on the ground.
From these Actions, we can observe a few trends that align with global trends in migration governance. For example, the salience of the topic of consular crisis management, the drive for greater spaces of collaboration between civil society and national governments, the importance of local level governments in migration governance, the presence of large regional networks and the links between migration, climate change and Green Economy.
Consular crisis management: examples from the EU Neighbourhood and Africa
Since the start of the pandemic, many governments have had to update, adapt or reconceptualise their domestic crisis management policies to include provisions for migrants and migration. Stranded migrants abroad experienced hardship and situations of great vulnerability which prompted multiple governments around the world to strengthen their mandate of consular protection through their delegations.
The new phase of MIEUX+ launched in April 2020 could accommodate this new-found interest as it was tasked with carrying forward the results of the Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Initiative co-chaired by the Governments of the United States and the Philippines.
MICIC was conceived to address migrants' specific conditions of vulnerability and increase the ability of States, international organisations, private sector actors and civil society to prepare for and respond to the needs of migrants in countries affected by conflicts or natural disasters, including by protecting their rights and dignity and by alleviating suffering they might experience.
During 2022, we started the third Action in Georgia, which foresees an update of relevant policies and training curricula developed under MICIC by including health emergencies into the list of crises to be prepared for.
Also in Democratic Republic of Congo a new Action got under way in late 2022 where the Directorate of Congolese Abroad under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is being supported to create a Consular Assistance Plan to strengthen the mandate and capacity of consular officers to better assist and support Congolese abroad.
Civil society and national governments in Central Asia and the EU Neighbourhood
As migration is a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon, the coordination mechanisms that seek to provide assistance and support must involve a wide range of actors in order to be successful. Increasingly, we have observed joint requests for support hailing where governments and civil society actors wish to join forces to protect migrants as part of their mandate. In 2022, two projects stood out for their innovative approach in Central Asia and the EU Neighbourhood.
In Kazakhstan, many migrants from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan regularly arrive with their families to work in urban and rural areas but current legislation does not oblige parents to register children under the age of seven with the migration authorities, leading to situations of abuse, exploitation and vulnerability. To redress this situation and inform migrant families about the rights under Kazakh law, the Human Rights Commissioner and civil society organisation Rodnik requested support from MIEUX+ to gain new skills in communication campaigns. The authorities, together with MIEUX+ experts drafted a plan targeting migrant families with children. It is expected that the final materials will be available in early 2023, enabling greater collaboration between these actors.
Meanwhile, in Azerbaijan, both government and a network of civil society organisations have become increasingly concerned with the trafficking networks that make use of social media and mobile apps to lure potential victims. Following a request from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a new Action got underway in autumn 2022 to exchange practices and benefit from EU expertise on the matter, emphasising the role of inter-institutional coordination and whole-of-society approach in combatting Trafficking in Human Beings.
Local level takes centre stage: urban planning in Uganda and integration in Costa Rica
Over the last two decades, municipal authorities have been claiming a more prominent profile in decision making related to migration management and governance. Research and migration data point to the fact that migrants, both internal and international, gravitate towards cities as these represent poles of economic development and hubs for employment opportunities. Hence the importance for urban centres and municipalities to mainstream migration issues in sustainable development planning.
Hosting over 60% of refugees and asylum seekers in Uganda, the Municipal Council of Nebbi, Yumbe Town Council and the NGO Urban Afrikanischer Traum submitted a joint request for support in managing migration at the local level effectively. By building bridges between the municipalities and civil society organisations, MIEUX+ experts will provide a series of recommendations to mainstream migration into local urban planning.
Meanwhile in Costa Rica, building on 10 years of cooperation with MIEUX+, the fifth Action with the General Directorate for Migration and Immigration (DGME) will accompany the formulation of the country’s new National Integration Plan (NIP) for 2023 – 2027. The project seeks to evaluate the current plan, active between 2018 and 2022 as well as foster spaces of dialogue to establish a roadmap for the next four-year period. The new NIP will see greater focus on the private sector and the Costa Rican municipalities as drivers of economic developments and hubs for migration.
Large regional networks: Gran Chaco
The Gran Chaco region is an ecological area spread across the territories of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. Although not as well-known, the region is only second to the Amazon in terms of biodiversity and forest areas in the Americas. 10 partners from various sectors including local and national authorities, civil society organisations, regional organisations and academia coordinated together to submit a request and are now analysing environmental migration in the region with a team of European, regional and local experts.
The policy recommendations that will issue from this project will put an emphasis on populations in situation of vulnerability such as indigenous communities and women and children and define a strategy to raise awareness, particularly to local communities. The diversity of partners involved in the project is proving crucial to developing a multidisciplinary approach for the design of recommendations that will feed future policies.
Although Green Economy was coined as a concept in early 1990s, the European Green Deal adopted in 2019 put climate action and the Green Economy at the heart of European priorities, both in internal and in external partnership policies.
In their role as drivers of development, entrepreneurship and innovation, migrants and diaspora groups offer huge potential to the green transformation in Europe as well as in partner countries. In April 2022, MIEUX+ published a discussion paper analysing major trends and key discussions in the context of the Green Deal in the European Union and in the 2030 Agenda with its possible linkages to labour mobility/legal migration (including talent partnerships, skills partnerships, and greening jobs and skills), spotlighting where current gaps exist in these policy areas. The discussion paper offered several areas for further research to develop hoping to inspire a wide range of actors to work collaboratively in this new emerging field.