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.