Kamis, 05 Juni 2008

"We stand ready to lend support to the migrants we serve"

NGOs worldwide back the formation of int'l migrants group

"As advocates, fervent promoters of the empowerment of migrants around the world, it is imperative for non-government organizations to back the International Migrants Alliance. We stand ready to lend support to the migrants we serve."

This was declared today by Dr. Irene Fernandez, known migrants rights activist and director of TENAGANITA (Women's Force) in Malaysia, as the founding assembly of the International Migrants Alliance draws near.

"While the efforts of NGOs to drumbeat the issues of migrants and raise awareness to their plight are commendable, it is even more important for us to back them now that grassroots migrants themselves are claiming their voices," she added.

Fernandez' office works with migrant workers in Malaysia especially women and undocumented ones. For her work with migrants, Dr. Fernandez has been awarded the Right Livelihood Award known as the alternative Nobel.

The IMA, dubbed to be the first global formation of grassroots migrants and immigrants, will have its founding assembly on June 15 and 16 in Hong Kong. Its opening program on June 15 will be held at the City University of Hong Kong and shall be co-hosted by the Women's Empowerment in Muslim Contexts (WEMC), a research consortium composed of academics supportive of empowerment of grassroots migrants.

"We dream of the time when migrants of the world are united and empowered to defend their rights and wellbeing. It starts with the IMA," said Ramon Bultron, managing director of the HK-based Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) who works with migrants in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions.

Bultron relayed that, especially in the international arena, NGOs have hogged events that tackled concerns of migrants. He said that the formation of the IMA has shown that migrants are now gearing to mark a significant presence in venues where their own representatives should be heard.

"Thus we encourage NGOs around the world to support this initiative. We owe this to the people we have made it our mission to serve," he remarked.

Bultron said that in the coming meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Manila in October, grassroots migrants must take the centerstage. He urged NGOs in the civil society meeting to ensure that migrants will not serve as mere tokens as their lives and future are discussed.

Meanwhile, for Dr. Robyn Rodriquez, assistant professor at the Sociology faculty at Rutgers University in the USA and author of various articles on US immigration, NGOs must take the IMA formation as a complementary development to the thrusts of NGOs to serve migrants.

"This will be a great opportunity to further advance the causes of migrants. The mass character and concrete experiences of the grassroots migrants coupled with the capacity of NGOs can be combined for more effective advocacy work," she intoned.

Several NGOs including regional ones such as the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development and CARAM Asia, as well as country-based ones in Canada, Japan, and Australia will also join the IMA assembly.

"The IMA trailblazes a new future for migrants' empowerment. We are behind them all the way," Rodriguez concluded. #

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