Red Cross Red Crescent youth make their voices heard on migration

Published: 30 August 2013 9:30 CET

By Kevin Xia, IFRC

Focusing on the crucial issue of migrants and Red Cross Red Crescent humanitarian action, young people from 28 Asia Pacific National Societies gathered near the South Korean capital in August for a ‘Model’ IFRC General Assembly (MIGA), hosted by the Republic of Korea National Red Cross.

As the most important event in the Republic of Korea National Red Cross youth’s celebration of its 60th anniversary, this second Model IFRC General Assembly (MIGA) was supported by the IFRC’s Asia Pacific zone office and East Asia delegation, with 182 young people taking part.

The focus of this year’s MIGA was on ‘Migrants and humanitarian action of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement’ with two sub-agendas: ‘Humanitarian assistance to vulnerable migrants and their social inclusion’ and ‘Access to and social inclusion of youth migrants’.

The delegates, representing 50 National Societies worldwide, discussed and exchanged ideas, exploring what Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies can and should do to address the issue and they developed a ‘decision’ as an actual IFRC General Assembly does.

The final document calls upon National Societies to confirm their commitment to aid vulnerable migrants to support their integration, strongly supporting partnerships among National Societies and other organizations to advocate education and awareness raising to alleviate discrimination. It urges National Societies to actively engage young migrants in education programmes that focus on the language and culture of the hosting community and vocational training.

Lee Hyun Zi, an undergraduate student from the Republic of Korea, represented the Syrian Arab Red Crescent at MIGA along with another two delegates.

“We did a lot of research about migration issues in Syria as well as in Korea before MIGA started. I was shocked by the significant movement of refugees and the huge challenges there. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent has also actively contributed and taken part in helping these migrants.

We have two recommendations to enhance the currently insufficient integration of migrants: establishing migration centres in the border areas and holding campaigns to promote the well-being of migrants.”

The MIGA, first held last year, was initially expected to provide learning opportunities for Red Cross youth and other students from the Republic of Korea. It has now evolved into an international activity, with 60 overseas Red Cross youth members from the Asia Pacific zone joining this year. The Korean Red Cross plans to host a global MIGA in 2014 and will promote this tool to other National Societies at the 19th General Assembly in Sydney this year with the joint support of the IFRC’s zone and regional offices.

 “The MIGA provides a great opportunity for young people by enabling them to step into the shoes of National Society delegates to learn about and discuss relevant global humanitarian issues. The programme also inspires their involvement with their own National Societies and helps to develop them as future leaders in the Red Cross and Red Crescent,” said Jagan Chapagain, Director of the IFRC’s Asia Pacific zone office.