The Maldivian Red Crescent (MRC) and the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) organised the Humanitarian Dialogue on Migration from November 9 to 10.
The two-day event held in the capital city of Male' was supported by the Italian Red Cross (ITRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
During the event a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the MRC and the BDRCS which outlined areas for future cooperation and collaboration.
The Dialogue aimed to facilitate MRC, BDRCS and key government and non-government stakeholders to discuss the context of migration between Maldives and Bangladesh. The humanitarian role of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in assisting migrants and individuals affected by migration was also discussed during the two-day event.
Over the course of the Dialogue, MRC and BDRCS formulated a work plan to address the needs of migrants and those affected by migration in Maldives and Bangladesh in accordance with the IFRC Global Strategy on Migration. It will also help create a shared understanding and explore opportunities for cooperation between MRC, BDRCS, ITRC, and movement partners to address the needs of migrants before, during and after their journey.
Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail attended the dialogue as the chief guest. Speaking at the event, the minister reiterated guarantees to cooperate with relevant stakeholders in ensuring that challenges faced by migrants are addressed.
The event was also attended by the Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture Zaha Waheed, leading officials from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maldives Immigration, United Nations in Maldives, Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) and Transparency Maldives. Maldivian representatives were joined by delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Speaking at the dialogue BDRCS Chairman MP Hafiz Ahmed Mazumdar stated that, “collectively we can try to do something for the humanitarian cause of the migrants. Bangladeshis constitute more than 50 percent of the migrants of the Maldives. We are glad to work with the Maldivian Red Crescent”.
“This Humanitarian Dialogue on Migration is an opportunity for us all to consider how we can individually, collectively, and in partnership do more to assist, protect and advocate for the migrants who are most at risk, and support all those affected by migration".
Head of IFRC Bangladesh, Azmat Ulla noted the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's efforts to improve social cohesion with those who host migrants and endeavours to address specific needs of individuals who stay behind as a result migration including elderly relatives and children of migrants as well as communities".
MRC’s Secretary-General Aisha Noora Mohamed highlighted various challenges that migrants face in Maldives, during crises as well as during peacetime.
“We recognize and acknowledge the many socio-economic challenges that shape the lives of migrants, and those affected by migration in the Maldives. The lived experiences of almost 1 in 4 people, living among us, in our communities, stand in stark contrast to the rest. This also means, that during crises, these harsher realities are exacerbated. Being in a country temporarily brings unique challenges in access to information, limited social support networks, the language and cultural barriers all contribute to challenges even during everyday lives. These challenges become more magnified during disasters and emergencies and affect their abilities to bounce back from them. We are committed, to work during crises and peacetime, to always uphold the dignity, access, protection, and safety, of those affected, to ensure that we can be there impartially and neutrally".
The Italian Red Cross Regional Delegate for South Asia, Riccardo Bagattin noted described the dialogue as " a wonderful opportunity not only to share the issues Maldives and Bangladesh are facing and trying to find solutions, but also and most importantly to set the foundation for a collaboration between the two National Red Crescent Societies, which will enable to put these solutions into practice and alleviate the sufferings of the most vulnerable. This would be the first in its kind in the region”.
MRC highlighted Maldives' status as a major destination country for expatriate workers with 25 percent of the population consisting of migrants. The largest country of origin for these migrants is Bangladesh at 57 percent, with India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal being the next greatest contributors. MRC particularly highlighted the importance of increasing access to health care and improving standards of living and working environments for such workers. The need for improved social cohesion between migrant communities and locals was also expressed.