• Red Cross staff and volunteers check children for height and size (measuring upper arm), speak to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Recipients are given 4.4kg of corn, soya and bean, a calorie-rich supplement. Rosemarie North /IFRC. p-TCD0074.jpg.
  • Tunisian Red Crescent volunteers on the relief team prepare to clean up parts of the camp and tents after some migrants depart the transit camp for their home country.Akram Chalouah/Tunisian Red Crescent.p-TUN0334.jpg
  • Bredjing Refugee Camp, Chad, November 2006. 4000 out of the 24000 refugees in the Bredjing camp are children. They attend school in the morning and in the afternoon. The teachers are volunteers and refugees themselves, living in the same camp. Cima/IFRC.p-TCD0109.jpg.
Red Cross staff and volunteers check children for height and size (measuring upper arm), speak to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Recipients are given 4.4kg of corn, soya and bean, a calorie-rich supplement. Rosemarie North /IFRC

Migrants are people who leave or flee their home to go to a new place – usually abroad – to seek better or safer surroundings. Migration can be voluntary or forced, but generally a combination of choices and constraints are involved, as well as the intent to live abroad for an extended period.

While migration and displacement are interlinked, they are not the same, and require different approaches. Displaced populations usually require relief operations combined with efforts aimed at achieving collective and lasting solutions. Our work with migrants, on the other hand, usually involves more individual social assistance, legal protection and personal support.

Many migrants succeed in establishing themselves in their new communities, but others face difficulties and it is these people who are of primary concern to the IFRC.

With their traditional support systems removed, they are often unable to access basic health and welfare services. They may lose links with their families and communities, and be subject to people smuggling and trafficking, or be exploited in informal labour arrangements.

As part of the migration process, they may be detained and deprived of their freedom. There are often challenges such as cultural and language barriers, discrimination, exclusion, or even violence to overcome. Women and children are particularly at risk.

The IFRC is committed to addressing the needs and vulnerability of migrants in order to provide protection and assistance. We do all we can to support vulnerable migrants, regardless of their legal status, and to offer them humanitarian assistance. We urge governments throughout the world to respect migrants’ rights.

To ensure that the specific situation of migrants is addressed appropriately, the regional networks within the IFRC are vital as they give the organization a local presence across the globe.

In Europe, PERCO (Platform for European Red Cross Cooperation on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants) represents such a network. Other networks are currently under development.

Migration and climate change paper

News and opinions

Statement on migration by Francesco Rocca

21 million are victims of people trafficking and modern slavery, but the issue affects us all.

Red Cross Red Crescent calls for respect of the dignity and rights of all migrants

Geneva, 18 December 2014. On International Migrants Day, the International Federation of Red ...

Sahel: Migrating early to avoid drought and destitution

In Diakassdé, a village of agro-pastoralists located in the north of Senegal, the crops ...

Migration, the time for words is over

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Useful links

Additional resources

  Advisory notes Action to ensure humanitarian access for and to migrants Arabic (PDF: 141k)...


What is PERCO?

The Migration Reference Group

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The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian organization, with 189 member National Societies. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, our work is guided by seven fundamental principles; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. About this site & copyright