Ho Chi Minh City 22 Jul 2021 – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) today launched an 18-month regional multi-stakeholder project, funded by Sweden, to enhance protection of migrant workers in Asia impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The USD 3.2 million regional project will address challenges faced by migrant workers, while strengthening responses of policy makers, private sector and civil society to better protect and provide assistance to migrant workers during and post the pandemic.
Specifically, the project will focus on solutions to the key issues facing migrant workers in the COVID-19 response and recovery with collaboration from governments, private sector and civil society.
IOM, in partnership with Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), will carry out a series of regional and country level interventions that will directly benefit 5,500 migrant workers from seven countries of origin in South and Southeast Asia – Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam – and at three countries of destination – Hong Kong SAR (China), Malaysia and Thailand.
IOM will also provide technical assistance to promote safe, orderly and regular labour migration processes and help improve access to effective remedies for migrant workers who experienced harm, during, and after COVID-19.
The project builds on IOM’s larger regional COVID-19 response outlined in IOM Strategic Response and Recovery Plan (SRRP) 2021 and is implemented as part of IOM regional Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking Project in Asia (CREST), supported by Sweden.
“Migrant workers are on the front line in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they face heightened discrimination and vulnerabilities due to mobility restrictions and the suspension of socio-economic activities,” said Mihyung Park, IOM Chief of Mission in Vietnam.
“To overcome this pandemic crisis, it is important that we do not leave migrants behind in the response and recovery plan. We welcome the support from Sweden and the collaboration with Migrant Forum in Asia and other stakeholders to ensure assistance and protection of migrant workers impacted by COVID-19. Together, we will lay the foundations for a more resilient and just recovery,” added Ms. Park.
William Gois, Director of the Migrant Forum Asia said, “We are in a moment in time where a partnership like this can be pivotal. So much of migration governance has proven to be fragile in this time of crisis. We need to build forward better, and this partnership could leverage that transformative change.”
Åsa Heden, Head of Development Cooperation Section, Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok said, “Sweden is committed to the protection of human rights and gender equality. The impact of the Covid-19 has unfortunately aggravated the situation for migrant workers in the region.”
“Through the collaboration with IOM and Migrant Forum Asia, the support would strengthen the protection of migrant workers’ rights and contribute to a just and resilient recovery for all,” Heden added.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic fallout have exacerbated migrant workers’ vulnerability, especially for women. Migrant workers are found in greater risk of infection while lacking access to health care and other essential services. They also face rising xenophobia or being stranded in countries of origin and destination without work or social protection. However, migrant workers play an important role in recovery plans of many countries as essential workers and remittance providers.
CREST, which aims to enhance the protection of the human and labour rights of migrant workers in business operations and international labour supply chains, is built on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its central promise to ‘leave no one behind’.