Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) are joining efforts to combat the unethical recruitment and exploitation of migrant workers.
The two organizations today (01 Oct) signed a global Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote cooperation, exchange of information and mutual assistance in relation to ethical recruitment and migrant worker protection. This collaboration is urgently needed in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the enhanced risks and vulnerabilities faced by jobseekers and migrant workers around the world.
“IOM is delighted to formalize our cooperation with MFA today through this MOU,” said Monica Goracci, Director of IOM’s Department of Migration Management.
“This is an important milestone that builds on our already close collaboration and the many connections we have at national and local levels,” IOM’s Goracci continued. “The MOU gives us an opportunity to strengthen and globalize our engagement at a time of urgent need for migrant workers around the world. We look forward to the close collaboration this will inspire across our two organizations.”
MFA Regional Coordinator William Gois said, “This moment of crisis has provided us with an opportunity to build back better. We cannot let this moment pass without starting from the fundamentals. We need to address the structure and systemic flaws of the labour recruitment practices.”
IOM is committed to combating all forms of exploitation and abuse of migrant workers. MFA is a regional network of faith-based groups, academia, members of the media, lawyers, and rights advocates working on social justice for migrant workers and members of their families. Together, the two organizations will catalyze cooperation between policy makers, civil society and the private sector to strengthen protections for migrant workers with an immediate focus on the urgent needs resulting from the COVID-19 health crisis and its socio-economic impact.
Migrant workers across economic sectors, industries and occupations face the risk of exploitation linked to unethical recruitment and employment practices that place them in situations of vulnerability to debt bondage and forced labour.
The MOU is the latest in IOM’s response to the challenges migrant workers, employers and recruiters face in the context of COVID-19.
In April, IOM through its IRIS: Ethical Recruitment Initiative released Guidance for Employers and Labour Recruiters providing preliminary guidance about how to protect migrant workers and ensure the highest recruiting standards in the face of COVID-19. In August, IOM and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) jointly released employer guidance for measures to protect migrants during the pandemic.
The risks migrant workers face are accompanied by health-related vulnerabilities throughout the migration process and at work, when appropriate measures are not taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For migrant workers who have lost their jobs, the situation is often dire: many face the loss of livelihoods, have no means to support themselves and the loss of income has resulted in evictions and reliance on emergency and humanitarian support.
The time to act on this situation is now and many important steps are being taken by civil society organizations, home and host governments, and other stakeholders. The IOM-MFA partnership will reinforce these, while setting the stage for medium- and long-term solutions as the world moves towards recovery and a “post-crisis” new normal.