Community engagement on safe migration refers to the active involvement and participation of individuals, groups, and organizations within communities in promoting and ensuring safe migration practices. It involves raising awareness, peer education, fostering community dialogue, and encouraging collaborative efforts to challenge and address existing norms and values around migration.
In IOM’s work, community engagement on safe migration encompasses several key elements:
- Awareness-raising and outreach
Communities with high mobility – including communities of origin and return, host and migrants communities – need to be informed about the risks, rights, and resources related to migration. Awareness raising campaigns, workshops, and information sessions can help individuals understand the risks and dangers of irregular migration including trafficking in persons and exploitation, while also highlighting legal pathways, available support services, and the importance of legal identity.
- Community conversations and dialogue
Engaging community members in open dialogue and discussions helps to create a safe space for sharing experiences, concerns, and ideas related to migration. This can be done through community meetings, forums, or focus groups. It allows for a better understanding of the specific needs and challenges faced by (returned) migrants and community members and helps develop targeted solutions.
- Peer education
Community engagement involves equipping (returned) migrants, local organizations, and community leaders with the necessary knowledge and skills to lead the conversation on safe migration. Training programmes focus on topics such as active listening, providing support for reintegration, storytelling and audiovisual techniques, digital communication but also trafficking in persons, exploitation, mental health and psychosocial support. IOM’s training offer differs according to context and needs and leads eventually to peer-to-peer communication.
- Local partnerships
Building partnerships between community-based organizations, local governments, civil society, and other stakeholders is crucial to obtain ownership. Through collaboration, we can coordinate efforts to address the challenges of migration better, together. Collaboration also helps ensure that the voices and concerns of all community members and migrants are heard and incorporated into policy discussions.
Engaged communities can play a vital role in advocating for policy changes and reforms that promote safe migration. By voicing their concerns and experiences, community members can raise awareness among policymakers, influence legislative decisions, and drive improvements in migration governance. This may involve lobbying for the protection of migrants' rights, advocating for safer migration routes, or pushing for the eradication of exploitative practices.
Community engagement aims to contribute to empowering migrants and vulnerable populations by providing them with the tools and support they need to make informed decisions about migration. To do so effectively, community engagement efforts should prioritize the inclusion of marginalized groups, such as women, children, refugees, and internally displaced persons, who often face heightened risks during migration.
Overall, community engagement on safe migration fosters a supportive environment where individuals, organizations, and governments collaborate to mitigate risks, protect migrants' rights, and ensure the well-being of all community members involved in the migration process.