Ho Chi Minh City – As the COVID-19 pandemic increases vulnerabilities of migrant workers across the globe, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has joined forces with the Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) to promote the voice of migrant workers and tackle labour exploitation in supply chains across Asia and the Pacific.
Although migration is recognized as an important driver of development within the Sustainable Development Goals, the human and labour rights of migrant workers are too often not respected by the actors involved in their recruitment and employment.
During COVID-19, the vulnerabilities of migrant workers have increased significantly with many living and working under conditions that make social distancing and seeking medical attention difficult. While many countries have introduced lockdown measures, many migrant workers have lost their jobs and incomes, are stranded, unable to return home or continue employment. This has led to many migrant workers falling into irregular status, overstaying their work visas, and ultimately failing to pay off debts accumulated through recruitment or support families back home.
MFA, a regional network of migrants and migrants’ rights advocates, working on social justice for migrant workers, and IOM, the UN Migration Agency, working to promote well-managed migration globally, are now bringing together their expertise and strong regional presence to work for and with migrant workers.
The partnership will focus on community-based approaches to enhance migrant workers’ access to ethical recruitment, decent working and living conditions and effective remedy. More specifically, IOM and MFA will seek to develop innovative approaches to support businesses to better respect the rights of migrant workers in their operations.
“Civil society organizations are trusted by migrant workers and their communities. Governments, businesses and international organizations can learn and benefit from the experience and knowledge of civil society organizations representing migrant workers voices,” said Miah Park, Chief of Mission, IOM Viet Nam.
She added, “The MFA is a long-term partner of IOM, and we look forward to strengthening our collaboration to end exploitation of migrant workers in international supply chains.”
“The vulnerabilities of migrant workers exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic only strengthens our conviction and commitment to build back better systems of accountability, transparency, and management of the recruitment process. To support our approach to private sector engagement, MFA welcomes this partnership with IOM,” said William Gois, MFA.
Through the Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) initiative and the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS), IOM strives to enhance the protection of the human and labour rights of migrant workers in international supply chains. In doing so, IOM collaborates with other multi-stakeholder initiatives to promote an ethical business model of international labour migration.