Remarks for Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Launch of Guidelines
by Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto
Monday, June 27, 2016
Good morning and welcome. Thank you for joining us. We are here today to celebrate the collective effort of a wide range of stakeholders over the past two years to advance the protection of migrants caught in a country experiencing conflict or a natural disaster.
I would like to begin by recognizing and thanking the Philippines for its joint leadership in this ambitious undertaking. And I would like to extend that thanks to the members of the Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Working Group who have shown extraordinary commitment to this Initiative: Australia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, the European Commission, SRSG Sutherland’s office, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Georgetown University, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development, and of course the International Organization for Migration, which also serves as our Secretariat.
The humanitarian crises we have witnessed in recent years underscore the need for new commitments and innovative approaches to response efforts. Over the past two years, Ambassador Rebong, DG Swing and I, along with several of our colleagues, have had many opportunities to brief you on the MICIC Initiative and the consultations that have been held with governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector.
Today, I am proud to share the product of these efforts with you, and to celebrate this multi-stakeholder effort and commitment to advance the protection of migrants.
The report entitled Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries Experiencing Conflict or Natural Disasteris a tool that can significantly enhance our capacity to respond to many aspects of the migration challenges we face today. We hope the Guidelines will be broadly welcomed and, more importantly, widely implemented.
The world’s attention has increasingly turned to migrants and refugees. In recent years, we have seen how crises can disproportionately affect migrants, and have realized that this is a gap that states and other stakeholders can address with concrete solutions. For example, migrants are at greater risk of exploitation by smugglers and human traffickers in the aftermath of a crisis, their employers might withhold their passports, and the countries where they are living may not have Embassies representing their home countries.
Additionally, migrants often face difficulties in reaching safety if they do not speak the local language, have difficulty understanding emergency warnings, or are unfamiliar with where to go for assistance.
We have gained a greater appreciation of the resilience of migrants in times of crisis, and the unique abilities and skills they have in the face of adversity.
For all these reasons, these Guidelines are greatly needed, now more than ever. Although human mobility is not a new phenomenon, the volume of migration is at levels we have never seen before.
These Guidelines are needed everywhere. Every country has migrants residing within their borders, and every country has citizens residing overseas. And no country is immune to conflict or natural disaster.
These Guidelines reflect the input of a broad array of stakeholders through an extensive consultative process, which is important because it makes the document accurate, relevant, and applicable worldwide.
Through each step in the process, we’ve been humbled by the commitment of so many people to share promising practices, to acknowledge challenges, and to provide the expertise necessary to improve our collective response. Participants and stakeholders in this process have ranged from:
- government, civil society, and diaspora representatives;
- employers, recruiters, and insurers;
- local leaders;
- youth and gender experts; and
- the migrants themselves.
The United States strongly supports the principle of increased international cooperation and responsibility sharing on migration challenges — international cooperation that puts protection at the heart of our efforts.
I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all who contributed to the success of this initiative. However, our work is not done.
As we consider next steps, we can look to important U.N. Summits this September that will focus on increased international responsibility for refugees and migrants.
We believe the MICIC Initiative deserves a positive mention in the outcome document for the Secretary General’s September 19th event, and invite all of you to endorse this objective and to offer your support in negotiations in New York.
The Guidelines we welcome today are an important part of global responsibility-sharing, and we hope they will play a key role in a much larger set of efforts to address crises, improve response and better protect those in need.