The first f2f of SDC’s migration network was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 6-9 February 2012. More than 25 participants, mainly from SDC, but also a delegation from HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation and a representative from Caritas Switzerland, discussed various migration issues and the future of the network.
Setting the stage for the SDC migration network
The migration situation in Bangladesh sets a compelling background for a f2f meeting on migration and development. The Bangladeshi government actively promotes labour migration as a development strategy for the country. 500’000 Bangladeshi workers leave the country every year, searching for jobs in the Gulf States, Malaysia, and Singapore to name but a few. In 2011, they sent 12.1 billion USD in remittances back to Bangladesh, which is more than the garment industry – being the biggest industry – contributes to GDP. Visiting various government offices, NGOs and recruiting agencies revealed the vulnerability of the migrants, and the insufficient protection they receive in the country of origin and destination. Our colleagues from HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation in Sri Lanka and Nepal could take important insights back to their own contexts and projects.
The participants came to the conclusion that taking an informed decision about benefits and (social) costs of migration as well as comprehensive pre-departure training are essential for safe and successful migration. Furthermore, the importance of the link to and the engagement in the destination countries was highlighted in policy advocacy as well as collaborating with existing civil society organisations and human rights institutions. Governance and especially accountability between recruiting agencies, sub-agents, and the migrants are crucial in the migration sector. So far, migration aspects have not been considered systematically in context analysis. However, considering the scope of migration in almost every country and its impact on project implementation, it is high time to address the topic more prominently.
What is the way forward in the network? Since different working contexts have different needs, some regions, such as South Asia or the Balkans have decided to form subgroups and facilitate a more regular exchange. Various topics such as pre-departure trainings, return & reintegration, HRBA & protection, potentials of the diasporas, etc. will be examined in more-depth by different working groups, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation being part of some of them.