National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies often use different approaches to assist and protect migrants, depending on the needs in the community. Some National Societies may have targeted programmes or projects. Others include migrants in general humanitarian work, which address the needs and vulnerabilities of the population as a whole. Some of these areas of work may include:
National Societies provide food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, first aid and psychosocial support to migrants throughout their journey. Social and economic distress and the lack of services and opportunities for development are often major causes for migration. In order to ease this pressure, National Societies may provide support for food security programmes and income generation programmes – as well as health and education and humanitarian relief at a community level. Additionally, disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness are used to reduce migratory pressure on disaster-prone communities.
National Societies work with the ICRC to restore links between migrants and their families and to protect migrants in detention. They also work to help improve detention conditions where necessary. National Societies provide administrative advice, act against exploitation and raise awareness of the risks associated with migration.
National Societies help migrants overcome barriers of exclusion and discrimination. They support the social inclusion of migrants, and reduce the potential for community tensions. Humanitarian advocacy on behalf of migrants can include interventions with authorities, public statements, messages, or campaigns. National Societies encourage public authorities to act against racism, xenophobia and the exploitation of migrants. They may also work with governments to alleviate hardship and the pressure to migrate, through improving services and economic development.
Integration and re-integration
National Societies help to establish new community links for migrants, as links with their families and communities at home are often weakened, and isolation can increase their vulnerability. As part of their work to improve conditions for migrants, National Societies also provide reception services, and foster social participation and solidarity. An example of this is engaging migrants as Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers.
In countries where migration is high on the political agenda, National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies always maintain their autonomy – even when working with public authorities. The work of National Societies is always based on an independent understanding of the needs and best interest of migrants, and forms one of the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.