This brief explores the opportunities and challenges for more structured diaspora engagement in migrant protection, as well as the provision of safety nets at various stages of the journey through early warning interventions, advocacy, direct assistance, coordination and information sharing. Settled migrants—often referred to as diaspora populations—are an untapped resource in efforts to support migrant protection. The effectiveness of this resource is highlighted through this case study of the migration situation prevailing amongst African students who have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February 2022.
For international organisations/institutional humanitarian partners
- Establish and/or support mechanisms for the effective collection of data on populations on the move. Given the resources and relations with state and nonstate actors, as well as the need to protect migrants from profiteers, humanitarian organisations are best placed to support this effort, ensure that all migrants are captured in datasets, and address the needs of the most vulnerable.
- Establish a diaspora focal point based at the organisation’s headquarters. This focal person can build relations with diaspora communities and, in turn, help create an information-sharing channel on basic services for migrants in origin and transit countries, such as shelter and WASH.
- Assist diaspora organisations’ access to funding opportunities by developing diaspora-friendly calls for grant applications; applications that account for organisations that receive more in-kind and material donations than direct financial support.
For national human rights bodies
- Make National Referral Mechanisms (NRM) operational, practical and visible in order to facilitate reporting by diaspora individuals and organisations on protection concerns for emigrants and transiting migrants. Trust that the mechanism works is key.
- Provision of timely, culturally appropriate and accessible information for diaspora organisations and other humanitarian actors on the legal frameworks around migrant protection; they can then support migrants’ exercise of their rights and lobby governments for migrant protection rights.
- Enforce a monitoring mechanism to ensure that NRM address concerns around migrant protection. The mechanism must recognise migrants’ diversity and need for awareness at the local level.
For policymakers in transit and settlement countries
- Ensure TCN protection needs in Ukraine are given equal weight to Ukrainian nationals fleeing the conflict.
- Address issues of discrimination facing TCNs seeking protection in countries neighbouring Ukraine.
- Facilitating the support of diaspora organisations in the response to the situation in Ukraine.
- Establish enhanced direct coordination with communities and increased synergies and partnerships with relevant stakeholders.
For diaspora organisations
- Extend and deepen outreach activities in transit countries and develop referral mechanisms for vulnerable migrants in coordination with service providers, such as local, philanthropic and international organisations.
- Support qualitative data collection efforts on those affected—people on the move — to ensure their voices are heard and no one is left behind.
- Extend outreach to transnational communities. Embracing all diaspora and grassroots efforts, formal or informal, is a critical part of data collection and outreach to migrants. It is also important to crowdfunding and maximising efforts.
- Provide an institutional base for knowledge sharing, coordination, and communication among various stakeholders. Be cognisant of the role that diasporas play in the medium to long term (recovery to development efforts).