When conflicts or disasters erupt, migrants living, working, studying, traveling, or transiting in the country experiencing the crisis may require targeted assistance. Although migrants are resilient and resourceful, they also face specific vulnerabilities that can hinder their capacity to ensure their own safety and wellbeing.
The Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Initiative was a member-state-led process that emerged from the 2013 UN General Assembly High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development. Co-chaired by the United States and the Philippines, with IOM serving as the secretariat, the MICIC initiative was launched in 2014 with a two-year consultative process. It culminated in 2016 with the publication of a set of non-binding and voluntary guidelines, principles, and practices for countries experiencing disasters and conflicts. The goal was to improve the ability of states and other stakeholders to account for migrant populations - through tailored preparedness, response mechanisms, and procedures that protect migrants’ lives, dignity, and needs.
The Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries Experiencing Conflict or Natural Disaster (MICIC Guidelines) aim to provide a blueprint to address migrants' specific conditions of vulnerability and increase the ability of States, international organizations, private sector actors and civil society to prepare for and respond to the needs of migrants in countries affected by conflicts or disasters, including by protecting their rights and dignity and by alleviating suffering they might experience.
The MICIC Guidelines does not aim to replace or supersede existing legal frameworks that address the protection of refugees and stateless persons. Rather, the MICIC Initiative complements those existing protection frameworks. They stress the need for a collaborative approach and partnership with local governments and national, regional, and international institutions to use limited resources and capacities and improve overall responses effectively.
They apply to situations in which migrants are present in a country experiencing a conflict or disaster. They provide concrete and practical guidance to stakeholders at the local, national, regional, and international levels on how to prepare for and respond to crises in ways that protect and empower migrants, leverage their capacities, and help migrants and communities recover from crises. The Guidelines therefore address the full cycle of crises – crisis preparedness, emergency response, and post-crisis action.
Concurrent with the consultative process described above, and drawing on the Guidelines, IOM launched a capacity-building programme in 2015 which included the development of tailored materials for various stakeholders, technical support to local authorities’ initiatives, repository of best practices, and capacity-building workshops in over 60 countries. The broad range of tools and materials developed, the external engagement undertaken, and the training delivered across and beyond IOM constitute an incredible source of knowledge and expertise that need to be leveraged and used strategically by the Organization both at the operational and policy level.
The Guidelines comprise Principles, Guidelines, and Practices. Each serves a different purpose:
|Principles||The ten Principles are fundamental, cross-cutting precepts, drawn, in some instances, from international law. The Principles are intended to inform, underpin, and guide actions to protect migrants.|
|Guidelines||The fifteen Guidelines are targeted suggestions, organized by theme, that identify in broad terms the actions needed to better protect migrants. Stakeholders can use the Guidelines to inform and shape crisis preparedness, emergency response, and post-crisis action.|
|Practices||The Practices are a non-exhaustive selection of examples that illustrate ways to implement the Guidelines and address the needs of migrants. They are based on existing practices as well as recommendations and can be adapted to suit particular contexts and priorities.|
IOM has developed a number of capacity-building tools aimed at operationalizing the Guidelines.
An online repository of practices complements the Guidelines. It comprises a selection of existing practices of States, international organizations, private sector actors, and civil society. The repository can assist stakeholders to exchange knowledge and expertise.
The Guidelines are complemented by a variety of tools aimed at strengthening the capacity of relevant actors to prepare for, and respond to crises that affect migrants in their countries of destination. These tools include a training curriculum for staff of emergency management actors in countries of destination as well as an e-learning course for consular staff of migrants' countries of origin. The "MICIC Toolkit" also include a smartphone app for migrants to register with their foreign service and receive updates, including emergency communications and warnings, on the area they are directed to, and templates to support contingency planning, evacuations etc.
MICIC Guidelines at a Glance
IOM can use the MICIC Guidelines to:
- Designing programmes in support of for the benefits of migrants and their communities, at all the phases of the crisis cycle, including crisis preparedness, emergency response and post-crisis returns and reintegration.
- Coordinating with other concerned stakeholders, in particular in the emergency response phase, to ensure a comprehensive response as the Guidelines highlight what roles of different actors can do based on their capacitates and mandates.
- Build capacities of other stakeholders, including States, private sector, civil society and migrants themselves, on how to better prepare for and respond when a crisis hits.
- Engage in advocacy work at the country, regional and global level to substantiate the recommendations of the Global Compact for Migration, the commitments of the humanitarian sector to Leave No One Behind, the responses required by the Sendai Framework to develop migrant-inclusive disaster risk reduction (DRR) systems, and the commitments under the Paris Agreement and follow-up documents under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
- Guide countries in their progress towards the objectives embedded in (and measured by) the Migration Governance Indicators, and can help improve local-level service provision, planning, and risk and emergency management.
- Give visibility to (and engaging specifically on) the challenges experienced by migrants who become displaced in crises, providing an additional element to the organization’s contributions to the Secretary-General's Solutions Agenda.
1 The co-chairs are assisted by a working group comprised of the governments of Australia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia; the European Commission; IOM; the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the Office of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for International Migration; the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD); and the Georgetown University Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM).