Crisis migration

© Mahmud Turkia / AFP 2015
The crises that continue to unfold in regions across the world call urgent attention to the humanitarian, social and economic needs of all refugees and migrants, including migrants who move through irregular means. Deadly conflicts, persecution, extreme poverty, underemployment and high levels of unemployment, drive people in search of safety and protection, decent work and better livelihoods, sometimes exposing them to increased risks of trafficking and exploitation. These situations challenge the international community to respond to the root causes of these movements.

Imbalances in the global climate, environmental degradation and natural disasters are also major drivers of population displacement. Every year, millions of people are forcibly displaced by floods, wind storms, earthquakes, droughts and other natural hazards. Many find refuge within their own country, but some have to flee abroad. In the context of climate change, such movements are likely to increase in future.

Key elements in addressing the drivers of growing migration, both regular and irregular, require the international community to invest in the creation of more productive, sustainable and better jobs; more inclusive and effective social protection systems; and social justice for all in countries of origin. In the context of climate change, displacement could often be avoided or at least mitigated by taking appropriate disaster risk reduction measures. These objectives present important opportunities to the ILO and its constituents to apply the decent work agenda in the crisis context.

ILO Response

In dealing with different crisis situations, there is first and foremost a humanitarian imperative to save lives. While there are no easy solutions, it is vital that the international community acknowledges the shared global responsibility of developing collective and inclusive action, particularly in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the post-2015 development agenda. The elements of effective approaches need to include: the creation of more productive and decent work in countries of origin (as per SDG 8); the possibility of creating more regular and safe channels of migration which meet real labour market needs and facilitate family reunion; ensuring that climate change agreements address employment, social inclusion and just transition issues; and placing human rights, including labour rights, at the core of all interventions.

In considering more durable solutions and their impact on labour markets, a wide-range of actors must be at the table, including Ministries of Labour, trade unions and employers’ representatives. A measured response must also involve stronger and closer cooperation among States and among and within regions to engage in renewed dialogue on the establishment fair, effective and robust governance mechanisms for labour migration. These endeavours should be underpinned by closer collaboration and coordination between all multilateral actors, including the 18 agencies of the Global Migration Group (GMG).