Asia is in the throes of economic growth and globalisation. Due to the economic factors involved, a vast number of people are crossing borders to seek employment. Of course this increasing amount of people gives rise to a unique community, the migrant community, who due to vulnerabilities such as culture shock, lack of support networks and of course the need for money, places them in particular situations of HIV susceptibility.
Although you don’t often see the needs of migrants being placed high on the world’s agendas, even though the population of mobile people is growing, The Co-ordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility in Asia (CARAM Asia) spent approximately two years researching, collating information, studying case studies and analyzing “success” projects developing a manual, which has been launched at the International AIDS Conference 2002.
The manual looks at the different stages in the process of migration, pre-departure, post-arrival and re-integration for migrant workers. It consists of various case studies from Asia, and tackles the issues that migrant workers often face. Instead of just painting a gloomy picture, though, the manual examines ways in which improvements can be made to policies and services focused on migrants.
With such a multi-faceted issue, the manual has attempted to include comprehensive sections on the three afore mentioned stages of migration and other issues such as gender have also been addressed in the book.
While the manual has been designed and developed based on research and studies from an Asian context, the thoughts, ideas and suggestions can also be applicable elsewhere around the globe and in varied situations, not just with the mobile people who seek employment elsewhere.
For instance, refugees who seek asylum in other countries due to war or human rights abuses are also a specific group of mobile people that needs to be addressed and given access to information and services like the other migrants. And because most of these refugees reside in a host country for a significant amount of time, they too are another form of migrant and the manual can help provide a framework in ways in which to empower the people.
The manual is not so tightly specific; rather it is a more generic tool and in its flexibility can be adapted to other situations in different areas of the world. It is the hope of the publishers that this manual will provide a framework in which the various stakeholders will have a tool that they can work with to empower the migrant worker.
CARAM Asia hopes to continue the advocacy and lobbying in the diverse regions by providing means of networking and advocacy as well as possibly organizing training sessions on how the manual can effectively be put to use.
The manual is a result of combined efforts to work on responding to a complex and vulnerable group of people, who are the migrants, generally to improve the quality of their lives.
AIDS 2002 Conference News produced by Health & Development Networks/Key Correspondent Team