The Migration Reference Group

The Reference Group was established in May 2008 by the Governing Board of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies at the request of the GA.

The Reference Group, chaired by the IFRC, is currently composed of 15 National Societies of the Red Cross and Red Crescent ensuring a geographical balance across Asia, Pacific, Africa, Americas, and Europe.

The Migration Reference Group’s first task in 2008 was to draft the IFRC Policy on Migration, together with the IFRC Secretariat, to guide the federation and its member National Societies in their efforts and activities on behalf of vulnerable migrants. The Policy on Migration was adopted in 2009 by the Governing Board, Counsel of Delegates and General Assembly.

In addition, the Reference Group, together with the IFRC Secretariat, drafted and finalised four guidance documents to better explain the aims of the Policy and to facilitate its implementation by the Federation and its member National Societies.

Current involvement of the Migration Reference Group

Now that migration is on the agenda for the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in November this year, the Migration Reference Group has been reconvened to take an active part in the preparation of background documents for the Conference and statutory meetings (General Assembly and Council of Delegates).

Further information is available at

Migration Reference Group meeting – London, 20 and 21 June 2011

The main purpose of the meeting in London was to find an agreement on a draft text of the migration resolution, to be adopted at the International Conference, and to generally discuss the 4 subtheme of the migration resolution:

  • Access to migrants
  • Border control and procedures
  • Partnerships
  • Xenophobia

After sharing experiences and information, and an extensive debate on the content of the resolution, the Group agreed on a draft text of the resolution for the 31st International Conference.

In addition, the Reference Group focused on the specific issues to be raised at the International Conference and the side workshop (the sharing of case studies, research and mapping studies; next steps for inputting into the final background paper; and the work to be undertaken by the Reference Group in the future).

It also considered the way in which Migration should be addressed in the General Assembly and the Council of Delegates which led to the conclusion that it will be necessary for the GA to discuss the proposed resolution, and within that forum stress the need for IFRC Secretariat and National Societies to provide the necessary resources for the work ahead.

In addition, the Reference Group discussed the possible workshop for the IC, to be organised by the Swedish Red Cross. The workshop aims to further develop the theme of “Access to and for Migrants”, in a theoretical and practical framework, identifying future challenges and developing a proposed plan of action for the following years.

Another issue discussed at the meeting, was the need for a coherent implementation strategy for the migration policy. It was noted that after the adoption of the policy, the focus shifted to National Societies regarding implementation. However, there is still a need to define and support implementation plans at regional, national and local levels. It was also noted that as migration is frequently an issue which crosses regional boundaries, it is important to have adequate Secretariat resources to guide and support consistent regional and national action.

These resources are important for the maintenance of good contact with global bodies such as UNHCR, IOM, UNODC, the Global Forum on Migration and Development and non-governmental bodies grouped within the International Council of Voluntary Agencies. It was also proposed that consideration be given by the secretariat to the development of a handbook on the implementation on the migration policy. It was noted that a strong partnership between concerned National Societies and the Secretariat will be necessary to achieve that implementation.

It was considered that the Migration Reference Group, working with the Secretariat would be the ideal forum to 'accompany' National Societies in the process of implementation through helping to share experiences, build partnerships between concerned National Societies, supporting capacity building and developing guidance on addressing current challenges in the area of migration and good practice.