Inequalities along the migration journey: MIEUX at the European Development Days 2019

EDD panel collage
From left to right: Oleg Chirita, Head of Programme, Global Initiatives, ICMPD; Laura Sanchez Solano, Legal Advisor, Directorate General for Migration and Immigration, Costa Rica; Mr. Andrew Allieu, Social Protection and Labour Migration expert, International Labour Organization (ILO), Regional Office for Africa; all panelists, including Ms. Audrey Jolivel, Coordinator of the Rabat Process Secretariat and ICMPD Focal Point for West Africa; Mr. Lamine Abbad, Project Manager for MC2CM

What are the European Development Days?

The European Development Days (EDD) are an annual opportunity for leaders, developers, and organisations alike to discuss, debate, and share ideas on a range of topics that affect individuals around the world. The EDD 2019 theme aimed to encapsulate the concerns around inequalities following the principle from Sustainable Development Goals of “building a world which leaves no one behind.” MIEUX, in collaboration with other ICMPD projects, put together a panel of experts to speak about the inequalities migrants face along the migration journey.

Integration as a way to redress inequalities

Drawing from the experiences of MIEUX together with the Support Programme to the Africa-EU Migration and Mobility Dialogue (MMD) and Mediterranean City-to-City Migration Project (MC2CM), the session gathered four speakers representing academia, local and national governments, and international organisations, all of whom collaborate actively with ICMPD. The expert panel focused on the complex and evolving links between migration/mobility and inequalities, delving into to the role of regional frameworks and local government in tackling inequalities with examples from Western Africa, Central America and Europe. MIEUX invited Laura Sanchez Solano, Legal Advisor for the General Directorate for Migration and Immigration in Costa Rica, to share her experiences about inequalities and migrant integration in the partner country as well as about the positive impact of MIEUX projects in Costa Rica, which have focused, among others, on supporting the development of the current National Integration Plan (2018-2022).

Costa Rica has the highest percentage of immigrant population, in relation to their overall population,with both transit migrants and migrants hoping to find a home within its borders. With such high volumes of migration within such a small country, an integration plan was deemed necessary to counter practices and policies that could further inequalities. The plan joins together institutions, structures, and policies to minimise or eliminate inequalities experienced in all aspects of life as a migrant in a new country by facilitating the establishment of more efficient migrant flows; creating humanitarian aid for transit migrants, who may experience vulnerabilities in areas of security and documentation; committing to safe, orderly, and regular migration; and strengthening of migrant living conditions and integrity, in areas like the labour market, healthcare, childcare, and education.

Addressing inequalities: inclusive governance

The expert panel concluded with a reflection about the type of governance that would be necessary to reduce inequalities and achieve goals related to diversity, equality, and inclusion. The panel’s moderator, Oleg Chirita, Head of Programme, Global Initiatives, ICMPD, cited inclusiveness and flexibility as two of the core components needed for a government to most efficiently address, reduce, and moderate inequalities. The policies that surround the governance of a country must be human-rights based and focused on empowering migrants, ensuring that no one is left behind. Additionally, governments, in order to best address inequalities, must recognise the importance of human development and of individual capabilities.

Migration can be understood as a visible reflection of global inequalities: it can create new inequalities, exacerbate or reduce existing ones. Such a multidimensional topic cannot be reduced to one type of inequality. Therefore, it is important to first assess the different forms of inequality, going beyond the most-cited one, related to income, and to understand how they relate and reinforce one another. In the context of migration, one form of inequality stems from others which are embedded in the labour market, family relations, social and local norms, and employment practices. For this reason, human rights and policies that are migrant-centred need to be strengthened. If inequality-reducing policies are created then more effective and fair opportunities can be created for all members of a society.

In line with the above, inequality-reducing policies should explore and include provisions to offset cultural norms and values; exclusions and discrimination based on legal status, gender, and education level; unequal treatment in areas such as education, work opportunities, and healthcare; barriers in accessing social protection; and general vulnerabilities that may arise as a migrant, especially if migrant status is irregular.

Overall, it is important to remember that migration is an issue that affects more than just the migrants themselves. If governments, capacity building mechanisms such as MIEUX, and individuals work together to facilitate a more comprehensive, efficient, and equal playing field for migrants and locals alike, then there is hope for more inclusive and diverse societies in which opportunity is not excluded to certain individuals but rather is available to people regardless of their background.

Related Links

European Development Days website

Project News: ICMPD expert panel at the 2019 European Development Days

Campaign #RightsMigrateToo