“Protecting has to do with our duty to recognize and defend the inviolable dignity of those who flee real dangers in search of asylum and security and to prevent their being exploited. I think in particular of women and children who find themselves in situations that expose them to risks and abuse.”Pope Francis
ICMC’s roster of highly qualified experts in Resettlement, Refugee Status Determination and Child Protection grew to include 534 members, who are ready for deployment to UNHCR operations.
Thanks to the generous support of the Government of Canada, ICMC was able to deploy 18 additional refugee protection experts to UNHCR operations, most of whom based in Africa.
Engaged in training, counseling and anti-fraud activities, ICMC refugee protection experts helped develop and roll out UNHCR Guidelines on Assessing & Determining the Best Interest of the Child—BIP Guidelines.
149 ICMC staff deployed to UNHCR operations in Greece provided technical advice to the Government, which dealt with 50,500 new arrivals (an increase of 45%), one-third of whom were children.
ICMC experts helped to enhance the capacity of the Greek Asylum Service, which received, identified and granted refugee status or subsidiary protection to 15,205 people.
ICMC experts supported a UNHCR-led housing project for vulnerable asylum-seekers and refugees, which offered 27,088 accommodation places across Greece.
ICMC experts worked with UNHCR and the Greek Ministry of Labor to pilot, in Crete, a first Independent Living Model, where unaccompanied adolescents learn to live in supported independent living apartments.
ICMC Jordan assessed the needs of 23,000 Syrian refugees to identify families with documentation issues. 4,900 people received cash assistance to regularize their documents.
1,500 households in Jordan received assistance to better cope with their increased vulnerability during the winter months and ensure stability of household accommodation.
4,928 children participated in protection, educational and recreational activities at ICMC Child Friendly Space in Mafraq, Jordan. Parents reported positive changes to their kids’ behavior and increased social engagement.
ICMC counselors in Jordan assisted 292 women and men in need of specialized psychosocial care, mainly due to post-traumatic stress disorder as result of war and displacement.
ICMC Jordan reached out to 3,000 members of the refugee and host communities with awareness-raising sessions on protection issues such as child marriage and gender-based violence.
451 refugee families in Jordan received cash assistance to pay for their housing, ensuring safe accommodation and reducing their financial vulnerability.
ICMC Pakistan and its local partner Society for Human Rights and Prisoners’ Aid provided legal information and counseling to 72,373 refugees, and trained 401 lawyers and police officers on refugee rights.
ICMC Pakistan’s shelter ensured the protection of 22 refugees (19 women and girls, and 4 boys) affected by sexual and gender-based violence or other serious protection concerns.
ICMC Pakistan provided 294 Afghan and non-Afghan refugee families with medical and counseling support, education, child protection, subsistence allowances, livelihoods and other services.
11,702 people from rural Damascus, Syria, received 7,793 vouchers for purchase of personal hygiene and house-cleaning items, household items such as heaters, and clothing and footwear.
In Syria, 657 people living in 116 households received rent assistance for six months to avoid incurring more debt to pay for their accommodation.
ICMC Malaysia assisted more than 200 refugee survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. 47 received specialized counsel. 21 survivors and their children were placed in safe shelters.
ICMC Malaysia reached over 1,500 Rohingya/Burmese refugees with training on sexual and gender-based violence and developed a “training of trainers” toolkit for community leaders.
ICMC Malaysia supported the Rohingya Society Malaysia to continue operating a shelter for sexual and gender-based violence survivors and their children.
ICMC’s Refugee Women’s Protection Corps in Malaysia was named as an example of social innovation in response to refugee needs by Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities.
2018 Aurora Prize Laureate Mr. Kyaw Hla Aung granted ICMC one-third of the USD 1-million award. ICMC allocated the funds to advance its work with refugees in Malaysia and to support ICMC member Caritas Bangladesh.
Refugee Women’s Protection Corps
Engaging Men as Partners for Change: Hakim’s Story
Hakim, a Rohingya refugee from Myanmar, is one of a handful of men volunteering with ICMC’s Refugee Women’s Protection Corps in Malaysia.
He and fellow Corps members support refugees who have suffered sexual or gender-based violence and raise awareness of the issue within refugee communities.
Hakim became aware of the effects of gender-based violence on his community by listening to survivors’ harrowing stories. “I thought this type of thing happened only in movies.” This new awareness pushed him to act.
Though still few in number, male Corps members like Hakim are increasingly vital to the fight against sexual and gender-based violence.
Their involvement is essential to protect women and girls and can lead to better protection for men and boys as well. Male survivors are even less likely than their female counterparts to report abuse they’ve experienced because of social stigma.
Men like Hakim have different possibilities to approach and influence religious and community leaders. Hakim says he knows which arguments can convince people that gender equality is best for families.
His work with the Corps has made Hakim rethink the roles of men and women in his culture. He began doing jobs at home – traditionally “women’s work”. He felt shy at first to be seen cooking or caring for his children. No more.
His words and actions have influenced the men around him, as well as encouraging his wife to take on tasks usually done by men.
“Were it not for ICMC services, we might be on the road as we had no place to stay. The shelter was a safe place for me and my children, and we had an opportunity to lead a normal life. My children had a chance to learn, they did not have a chance to study before. … I also can now speak a little English and Malay.”
A Rohingya refugee
Transformative, Community-Rooted, Empowering
The Refugee Women’s Protection Corps reduces sexual and gender-based violence and protects vulnerable refugees, in particular women and children. It is active in Rohingya, Burmese and other refugee communities in Kuala Lumpur, the Klang Valley and the state of Penang in Malaysia.
Trained female and male refugee volunteers offer rapid, sensitive and language-specific support to members of their communities affected by sexual and gender-based violence. Through home visits, peer counselling, interpretation services and a hotline, they provide survivors with access to emergency shelter and medical and psychological care.
Through community events and training sessions, the Corps raises awareness and brings about more just treatment of women.
The program taps into the communities’ own resources to protect people at risk, combat harmful gender stereotypes, oppose violence and re-assert the human dignity of survivors.
“The ICMC officer responded to my call even though it was 4:00 a.m. and advised me. … I am very glad to have shared the information about what happened to my daughter with the social worker. I tried to forget the incident in the past and put it away but now am glad that she is receiving the necessary help, especially the medical check-up.”
A Rohingya refugee
- The Refugee Women Protection Corps in Malaysia was highlighted as an innovative program by the association Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities. Read more.
Making Migration Work For All
2018 saw the launch of two Global Compacts on human mobility – one to ensure Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and one to share responsibility for Refugees (GCR).
With these international agreements, UN Member States made landmark commitments to act together to find sustainable solutions for people on the move.
Throughout the year, ICMC was at the forefront of civil society advocacy to UN member States.
With a number of NGO partners, we played a leading role by sharing the experience of uprooted people, churches and other faith-based institutions and a host of other communities welcoming people on the move. And we raised specific protection concerns and highlighted gaps at each stage of the process.
Given the mixed – migrant and refugee – nature of human mobility today, we emphasized how crucial it is that the two Compacts work together.
ICMC called for an overarching approach, with no distinction in terms of rights and access to basic services between regular and irregular migrants, and more emphasis on expanding safe and regular pathways and regularizing uprooted people’s status.
We repeatedly urged an end to child detention and other deterrence practices such as family separation and criminalization of irregular migration.
Protecting the most vulnerable was a particular focus. We highlighted the need to include persons in need of protection, including those who are not recognized as refugees according to the 1951 Refugee Convention, as well as victims of natural disasters and environmental degradation.
After several governments manifested their intention to withdraw from the Global Compact for Migration, ICMC President Dr. Anne T. Gallagher urged all governments to strengthen international cooperation on migration instead. In an opinion piece published by the World Economic Forum in August, she recalled that “no country can ‘deal’ with migration alone, [thus] working together is the only way to make sure migration works for everyone.”
With an eye to implementation, ICMC urged including enhanced accountability and detailed follow-up measures in both Compacts. We committed to continue facilitating the contributions of civil society organizations as crucial actors in the implementation of the Compacts, as well as to changing negative narratives and to helping make migration safe and mutually beneficial for all.
“As actors who work directly with migrants on the ground, we look forward to working with member states and other stakeholders to implement the Compact in a manner that guarantees the human rights of all migrants and upholds the rule of law.”
Joint Civil Society Message to the Member States at the Intergovernmental Conference to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, 10 December 2018
At the first round of GCM negotiations, Catholic Church-related organizations urge ending child migrant detention and underline the need to always take into account measures that are in children’s best interests.
At the second round of GCM negotiations, ICMC and other civil society actors call on governments to move forward on migration issues by building on existing best practices.
International NGOs review GCR draft one. They welcome integration of civil society feedback to the initial draft while proposing further ways to strengthen the agreement.
ICMC, Jesuit Refugee Service USA and Catholic Relief Services comment on GCR draft one, appealing for provisions to prevent family separation and child detention at all times.
Responding to GCR draft one, ICMC’s U.S. Liaison Office and U.S. Catholic groups focus on refugees most at risk and the need for more consultation with refugees and host communities.
U.S. Catholic groups and ICMC’s U.S. Liaison Office request stronger GCM implementation and accountability mechanisms and the prohibition of detention, family separation and prosecution as deterrence practices.
Nearly 300 civil society organizations issue an urgent call to UN member states before the fourth GCM round of negotiations to close protection gaps affecting vulnerable people.
At an ICMC-convened event, 60 civil society and government representatives review the most pressing protection gaps in preparation for the final negotiations of both Compacts.
At the final GCM negotiations, over 250 civil society organizations re-iterate core protection concerns and urge further safeguards.
ICMC and other civil society organizations welcome the inclusion of key advocacy concerns in the final GCM document, a substantial achievement to improve the lives of migrants on the ground.
The Friends of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) spotlight the need for civil society involvement in implementing the GCM.
ICMC releases five videos and a pamphlet on the Compacts. They highlight the positive impact on migrants, refugees and the communities that welcome them.
300+ delegates explore putting the GCM into action at the ICMC-facilitated GFMD Civil Society Days ahead of the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the GCM.
At the global conference to adopt the GCM, ICMC and other civil society actors commit to partnering with governments to implement the landmark agreement.
A Partnership for Migration Governance and Rights-Based Mobility
The Migration and Development (MADE) West Africa program entered its second year of implementation seeking to curb illegal recruitment practices and migrant-smuggling, as well as strengthening local advocacy capacity in Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone. With these goals, the program carried out research, capacity-building and multi-stakeholder dialogues. It also provided pilot seed funds to grassroots organizations.
Together with its main partners – the Center of Migration Studies (CMS) of the University of Ghana, the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD, UK) and the Forum des Organisations de Solidarité Internationale Issues des Migrations (FORIM, France) – ICMC Europe sponsored four multi-stakeholder meetings to promote synergies and share good practices among local, national and regional stakeholders.
In Senegal and Guinea, the meetings focused on illegal recruitment practices and migrant-trafficking while in Ghana and Sierra Leone, discussion concentrated on the Free Movement Protocol of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). On the former topic, stakeholders considered initiatives, challenges and good practices. On the latter, they heard about research findings on the Protocol in their countries and were asked to design a road map towards implementation.
Four in-country trainings in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso aimed at filling gaps and needs identified in project research. Participants received introductory knowledge and skills on how to engage with and influence policy- and decision-makers in relation to the ECOWAS Protocol and discussed local development, entrepreneurship and the informal economy.
MADE West Africa approved six grants of Euros 8.000 each. The seed funds were allocated to grassroots organizations in five countries.
Through research, advocacy and capacity-building work, ICMC Europe and its partners are raising awareness and building skills of local civil society organizations. The project also reaches representatives from national and local public institutions responsible for preparing and implementing labor migration and integration policies.
- Read more about the work of MADE West Africa.
A two-day workshop organized by CMS in Koforidua, Ghana enhanced participants’ capacity to address obstacles to full implementation of the ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol in their countries.
Participants in a workshop in Accra, Ghana organized by AFFORD on the diaspora’s contribution to development and job creation learned how to engage with and influence policy- and decision-makers.
60 participants discussed initiatives, challenges and good practices and made recommendations for a road map on illegal recruitment practices and migrant-smuggling at a multi-stakeholder meeting in Dakar, Senegal.
54 civil society representatives from five countries shared their work on illegal recruitment practices and migrant-smuggling with participants at a multi-stakeholder meeting in Conakry, Guinea.
ICMC Europe represented civil society at a Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development (Rabat Process) in Marrakesh, Morocco, where a new 2018-2020 multi-annual cooperation program was adopted.
Participants in a workshop organized by AFFORD in Freetown, Sierra Leone on diaspora contributions to development learned how to engage with decision-makers and discussed reducing the costs of remittances.
An inter-regional multi-stakeholder meeting organized by CMS in Koforidua, Ghana discussed the ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol and called on participants to design a road map of actions to better implement it.
Local development, entrepreneurship and the informal economy were discussed at a workshop in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso organized by FORIM; participants evoked the Burkinabe diaspora’s difficulties in these areas.
Participants in an inter-regional multi-stakeholder meeting organized by CMS in Tokeh, Sierra Leone studied research findings on the ECOWAS Protocol and worked at developing a road map to better implement it.
ICMC Europe organized a side-event on «Challenges and opportunities of migration and development: A West African case study» at the Civil Society Days of the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Morocco.
Protecting Filipino Migrant Workers
With roughly 10% of the country’s population working and living abroad, the Republic of the Philippines is one of the world’s largest sources of migrant workers. Regrettably, many workers leaving the country in the hope of a brighter future fall victim to exploitative working conditions. An estimated 784,000 Filipinos live in a state of modern-day slavery, and women between the ages of 18 and 27 are most at risk.
The St. John Neumann Migrants’ Center in Baclaran, near Manila, welcomes returning overseas Filipino workers and their families who have been victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking, and foreigners seeking asylum. It addresses their immediate needs and concerns.
The Center helps people like Michelle, who traveled to Saudi Arabia to be a domestic worker but was caught up in an abusive work environment. She suffered sexual harassment, maltreatment, and underpayment from her employer. After raising these issues with the recruitment agency responsible for her contract, Michelle was illegally fired. The St. John Neumann Migrants’ Center helped her file charges against the agency and provided her with trauma counseling.
The Center offers a variety of protection services to returning migrants and people who plan on migrating. These include rights awareness-raising, education on the risks of illegal recruitment and human trafficking techniques, referrals to government agencies, and skills training.
Throughout the Philippines, the Bishops’ Conference’s Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People protects migrant workers’ rights by offering information on safe migration and legal and psychological counseling in parishes and dioceses.