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Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Up to Return and Reintegration

Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by Administrator at November 14. 2011

Return migration is an integral and crucial component of international migration and is usually a part of comprehensive migration governance approaches in both countries of origin and destination. Yet, return is a complex and multifaceted process that can take many forms. It can be permanent or temporary, directed to the community of origin or to a different location within the country of origin, planned or unplanned, and can be linked to causes such as failure to find suitable employment in the destination country, poor working conditions and low wages, discrimination, exploitation and violence. While it is often the outcome of a decision making process that involves the migrant and his/her household members over a more or less long period of time and therefore  allowing a certain degree of preparedness, in many other instances, return is abrupt and unplanned, and can be linked to changing  socioeconomic condition at destination, or even the consequence of arrest and enforcement by authority officials.  In these cases returned migrants might find themselves in situations that are similar, if not worse, to those that led to their decision to migrate.   Variables such as length of the stay at destination and the type of migration experience have an important impact on the degree of success of reintegration: once back at origin, migrants can, for example, face serious cultural, social, and economic difficulties that affect the individual, their families, and their communities.

In order to design and implement policies that effectively address the specific needs of returnees and their families, it is therefore important to understand the main characteristics of returnees and what influence their decision to come back.

We need to have not only to have a better understanding on who returns when, but also of the characteristics, processes, causes and effects of these different forms of return on the socio economic reintegration of migrant workers to the countries of origin in both the medium and long term.

Let us start from looking at who decide to return and what policies are in place to support them.

 

  1. Returnees’ characteristics: in your national context, what are the profiles of migrant workers who return from employment overseas? Do women and men present different patterns of return? Why do some migrants have a stronger degree of preparedness than others? How is the issue of return preparedness dealt with or taken into consideration in the framework of existing migration policies in your country?  Is there any data collection and management system in your country that captures the number and profile of return migrants? If yes, how is information generated and shared for policy review and development?

 

  1. Return policies: Is there a national policy on return in your country? What are the main objectives? How effective is it with regard to its objectives?  How well is it structured at destination and at the central and local levels in origin country?  Are there formal mechanisms to facilitate return?  Who are the stakeholders involved in the implementation?  What, in your opinion, needs to be improved?

Re: Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by Robert L. Larga at November 16. 2011

Return policies in the Philippines

 

The Philippines has a law called the ‘Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995” (Republic act No. 8042).  The law institutes the policies on overseas employment and establishes a higher standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress.  This law was amended in 2010 through Republic Act No. 10022, providing more protection to, and introduction of new services for, Filipino migrant workers.

 

While not designated as “return”, RA 8042 provides specific provisions on the “repatriation” of workers.  The law, under Section 15 thereof, puts the primary responsibility for the repatriation and the transport of personal belongings of migrant workers to recruitment agencies and the costs are borne by the agency and/or its principals.  This rule does not, however, apply in cases where the worker is terminated due to his/her fault.

 

In cases of war, epidemic, disasters or calamities, natural or man-made, and other similar events, the law mandates the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to undertake the repatriation of workers in coordination with appropriate international agencies.  OWWA may, however, seek reimbursement from the responsible principal or agency.

 

The law also adopts mandatory repatriation policy for underage migrant workers or those whose actual ages fall below the minimum age for overseas employment.

 

The Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA), consular officials and labor attaches of the Department of Labor and Employment, and in few destinations, the Social Welfare Attaches, are involved in the provision of pre-return and return interventions.

 

In certain destinations especially where there is large concentration of Filipino workers, a Filipino Workers Resource Center is established.  The center provides, among others, orientation for returning workers.

 

Upon return, migrants may also seek assistance or information from the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) on livelihood and local employment opportunities. 

 

 

 

Re: Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by Robert L. Larga at November 16. 2011

On return data and characteristics of return in the Philippines

 Compared to deployment data which is very well captured by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), return migration is a bit challenging. In a research commissioned by the ILO under a project funded by the European Union, Stella Go said -    

Like many other countries, the Philippines does not have a mechanism for systematically collecting data on returning migrants, be they skilled or unskilled overseas Filipino workers, students, or retirees. There is lack of data on the magnitude of return migration and the rate of re-migration, the characteristics of returnees, and the circumstances under which they return. Because of the dearth of research on the topic and the lack of official data on the actual number of overseas Filipinos that have returned to the country, very little is known about the phenomenon.

While this is so, a number of studies using data from surveys of the National Statistics Office (NSO) such as the Survey of Overseas Filipinos (SOF) yield interesting insights regarding return migration to the Philippines. Utilizing the 1991 SOF and the 1988 National Demographic Survey (NDS), Rodriguez and Horton (1996) found that overseas Filipinos generally return between 3 and 6 years after migration and are significantly affected by the unemployment situation in the region of return. The Filipino migrant worker is less likely to return home the higher the unemployment rate is in the region of return. A one percent increase in unemployment decreased the probability of return by 12-20 per cent and immigrants with permanent residence visas also have lower rates of return. 

Overseas Filipino workers are also less likely to return home when they experience positive exchange rate shocks. On average, a 10 per cent improvement in the exchange rate reduced the 12-month migrant return rate by 1.4 percentage points (Yang, 2006). Moreover, those who have been overseas for the shortest (< 2 years) and longest periods (> 3 years) were less likely to return when there were improvements in the exchange rate (Yang, 2003).

Filipino workers return to the country for the following reasons: involuntary return due to crisis situations such as wars and forcible deportation; voluntary return due to the completion of a work contract or the achievement of the migrant’s goals; and other factors compelling them to return such as intolerable working conditions and family issues. In a survey of 100 women return migrants nationwide, Asis (2001) found that among the primary reasons for their return were the end of their contracts (38 percent), family reasons, including family problems (32 percent), and work-related problems (10 percent). Only 6 percent said that they returned because they had achieved their goals. Interestingly, 76 percent of the women in the study wanted to work abroad again.

The research provides a glimpse of return migration in the Philippines. Note however that the data and findings were some 5-10 years ago and the return profile and characteristics may have changed.

 

 

 

Re: Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by Robert L. Larga at November 16. 2011

Some initiatives to collect and generate data and information

 

The Philippines has a national referral system (NRS) for the recovery and reintegration of victims of trafficking, and this system is linked to a national anti-trafficking database.   The NRS starts from the identification of trafficked persons abroad through the Philippine posts and bridges on-site protection to local reintegration assistance through the national reintegration and welfare agencies for continuance of interventions.  It contains a more formal system of procedures and mechanisms, including on referrals, for the staff of the OWWA, POEA, DSWD and other governmental agencies/ authorities (e.g. the Department of Justice and local governments) as well as relevant NGOs.   

 

The NRS is linked to a national anti-trafficking database called “The Philippine Anti-Trafficking Database” (PATD).  The PATD has two main components: 1) the National Recovery and Reintegration Database (NRRD); and 2) The Law Enforcement and Prosecution Database (LEPD).  The NRRD systematically stores information about the identified victims /survivors of trafficking as well as the services provided to and referrals made for them.  It generates electronic reports on the profiles of victims and survivors; reports on the origin communities of trafficked persons by region, by province and by municipality and their destination; and reports on the history of service provision and the services provided, among others.  The LEPD, on the other hand, generates information on the progress of investigation and prosecution of criminal cases filed for violation of the national anti-trafficking law (Republic Act No. 9208).

 

The NRS and the NRRD were established by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), with assistance from the International Labour Organization (ILO), through a 3-year project funded by the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (HSF).   The NRS and the PATD were approved by the national Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons (IACAT) for nationwide implementation.

 

Please note though that these systems have some limitations as follows:

1.     They cover only trafficking in persons.  Illegal recruitment and labor exploitation cases (short of trafficking) are not included; and

2.     The database may capture data and information only when a trafficked person is identified or has sought assistance from authorities or service providers.  Those victims of trafficking who return on their own or do not seek assistance are beyond the radar of the database.

 

The systems have been put in operation in December 2009 and officially launched in December 2010 by IACAT.  The greater challenge remains to be its wider utilization by both government and non-government entities.  These initiatives, however, are a good start toward the right direction.

 

 

Re: Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by Jackie Pollock at November 17. 2011

Just as the migration from Burma to Thailand is informal so is the return. For many years in the late 80s and early 90s, migrants could not return. Having left the country illegally, they were liable for punishment and arrest on returning to their home country illegally. Gradually, as the movements of migrants increased, so did the back and forth movement. For cross border situations, migrants are generally better off dealing with the return themselves. What they need are borders which are flexible and allow them to cross them to their homes, good public transportation systems from the border towns to the rest of the country and no corrupt police or soldiers or local mafia or immigration officers extorting money from them on the way.  But that is only what everyone needs so does not call for any agency to organise particularly for migrants, just calls for appropriate infra structure and general good governance. 

We have seen recently the relunctance to even allow let alone facilitate migrants return in the flood situation in Thailand. But if the whole movement of migrants within the country and across the borders were more flexible, then they could return home and come back again without getting into any debts. But making border management stricter and less flexible means that when migrants move they need to use a broker. The current migration management dialogues seem to want to change these brokers into a more regulated recruitment agency...but why not just be more flexible and let the migrants move themselves.

Seems to be a lot of focus now on return, reintegration, readmission....might be good...but must be monitored really closely to ensure that it is not just another name for deportation. Many of the migrants in Thailand who have been returned, actually felt they had been deported. For example, when migrants are trafficked or are witnesses to trafficking, after being confined for long boring periods in a shelter with no income or gainful activity, they are returned. You can only use the passive tense to describe the action and it is exactly that. All decision making, agency, respect, dignity is taken away and they are returned. 

 

 

Re: Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by maria gallotti at November 25. 2011

Thank you very much for your participation thus far.  Your contributions have highlighted some key insights into the initial questions posed to start off this discussion.  Re-entry can be the final phase of the migration experience of many migrants. Migrant workers can decide or are required to return home and re-enter the society in which they used to live before or in other communities within the same country. Depending on whether they were prepared well for re-entry, this phase can be looked upon with anticipation or a lot of misgiving. Most migrant workers pay little attention to the re-entry phase.

 

Having access to adequate resources and services is crucial to returning migrants.  Resource centers can be a good source for providing necessary services and guidance for returning workers.  It is interesting to hear about the various resources available to returning migrants in the Philippines to help them with the return and reintegration process.  The importance of the collection of data on returning migrants has also been noted.  There are extremely limited data on return migration, except that which has taken place on an organized basis, because countries do not have monitoring systems to record the return of nationals who have been employed abroad.  Indeed, data collection can provide interesting insight into return migration in the country, and the findings can reveal valuable information in regards to the needs of the population, etc.   Data and analysis that distinguish between voluntary return from involuntary return associated with, for example, the rejection of asylum applications or deportation programmes for migrants in irregular status, currently do not exist. 

 

According to a recent stud, between 20 and-50 percent of migrants in OECD countries leave within five years of their arrival, either to return home or to move to a third country (secondary migration).  The same study reports that Individuals choose to return because of four main reasons: “i) failure to integrate into the host country, ii) individuals’ preferences for their home country, iii) achievement of a savings objective, or iv) the opening of employment opportunities in the home country thanks to experience acquired abroad” (OECD, 2008, p.163).  Migrants’ contribution to the development of their home countries depends upon the combination of resources they transfer before and at the time of their return (OECD, 2008).  Thus, individuals who return because of the latter two reasons are more likely to be in a position to contribute to the development of the origin country than those who return because of the former two.

 

On the other hand in the same way migrants choose to leave when the see opportunities for better working and living conditions, usually voluntary returns of migrant workers are also associated with improved conditions at home to make return attractive.  Thus, often the deciding factor will be the situation in the country of origin, particularly an improved economic outlook.  Whether they are able to invest their skills and savings and therefore maximize the development impact of migration, largely depends on the level of preparedness and to existence of policies at home that facilitate this access. As it has been pointed out in previuos intervention return mast take place in condition of dignity and respect of international human rights and labour standards.

 

Let us continue to examine reintegration policies and strategies to identify what are the programmes available to return migrants and to see what strategies have been proven to be successful.

 

 

Reintegration policies: In your experience, do return programmes /measures in your region/country, include a specific focus on reintegration and what are types of activities prove more successful? In which stage of return? What type of migrants do these policies target primarily (eg. Highly skilled, victims of trafficking, etc. ) What are the main challenges in implementing reintegration measures? What specific measures can be included in reintegration programs to address the specific needs of men and women returned migrants? Are government agencies and employers’ organizations involved in providing opportunities for training migrants to upgrade their skills and thus facilitate their reintegration upon return? 

 

Support strategies and service providers coordination: Who are the main stakeholders involved in providing services prior to and upon return? In your experience, is coordination, information sharing and referral mechanisms between relevant stakeholders in countries of origin and destination sufficiently developed to assist and support actual and potential retuned migrants? What initiatives can be supported to involve diaspora communities’ participation in the development of appropriate policies and programs for the reintegration of returning migrants?

 

Re: Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by Administrator at November 29. 2011

POST FROM TOEA (Thailand Overseas Employment Administration Office) 


1 .In Thailand, there is a law concerning migrant workers called “The
Employment and Job Seeker Protection Act B.E.1985. “  The Act provides
provisions controlling both the establishment and supervision of
private recruitment agencies, the sending of workers, protection and
assistance of Thai workers.  According to article no 39 -  40, in case
workers have some problems in their workplace such as getting unfair
wage, benefits and welfare or even haven’t  job there, the private
recruitment agencies are responsible to take the workers back to
Thailand.
2. At present, the data base of returnees in Thailand is incomplete to
provide sufficient returnees data.  However, TOEA (Thailand Overseas
Employment Administration), the government agency, has planned to
develop returnees’ data base. It will keep record all of returnees and
use the returnees’ data for the government to make advantage policies
to returns.
3. To support the l Thai workers to be employed both in Thailand and
upcountry after return Thailand, The Roya Thai Government, in
cooperation with Japan and  Republic of Korea, has implemented 2
projects for Thai workers from Japan and the Republic of Korea;
-First Project for Thai trainees sent to train in Japan by IM (Public
Foundation for International Manpower Development of Medium and Small
Enterprise, Japan). After the trainees finished training in Japan, DOE
(Department of Employment) will provide job placement for them and
follow up.
-Second Project for migrant workers sent to work in Korea by EPS
(Employment Permit System for Foreign Workers) is called “Happy Return
Project”.  The workers can return from Republic of Korea after ending
of employment contract with assistance from the Government of Republic
of Korea in terms of vocational training and job placement services
including support to return to work in the Republic of Korea for
another term.
Thank you so much,
Best regard,
Phatcharintr
TOEA
Mit-Maitri Rd.
Dindaeng
Bangkok
10400     Tel  02 245 6707

Re: Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by John Gee at November 30. 2011

Hi,

 Sorry to join in this discussion so late: time flies!

 

Working in Singapore, a country of destination, I don't have a lot of information on the problems of return and re-integration, but I hear of some.

 

Prolonged absence often results in workers and their family members drifting apart. It is bad enough to be away for two years at a time and to have to leave a partner and young children behind, but often, the costs of migration have been so high and returns so poor that workers feel that they should stay on in the country where they are working and try to earn more before going back. This happens to a lot of valued domestic workers. When the contract period is up and the time comes for a worker to go home on holiday, the employer asks whether she would be willing to stay on and offers to split the cost of the airfare with her. It may be what the worker had in mind anyway, so she agrees. It is not unusual to find workers who first go home four to six years after their placement.

 

Return can then be a heartrending experience. Younger children may not recognise you; older children have drifted away; a partner may have found other interests. During your absence, your role has changed into that of an ATM: some workers feel that very acutely. In these circumstances, return is bound to be difficult. People may still see you as a source of money rather than a member of the community who is valued for herself.

 

When workers are preparing to go home after a successful placement, they go shopping. They buy domestic appliances, toys and clothes for children, gifts for their spouses. I sometimes think that they could buy equally good presents in their own countries for rather less money, but I think there's a matter of pride involved. Bangladeshi workers prefer to go home by Biman Bangladesh, because its weight allowance is 40kg, whereas other airlines have one of 22kg: this is because of all the things they take home for their families.

 

When workers get home, they are sometimes expected to have a celebratory event - and pay for it. Long lost relatives may show up and ask for their assistance. Some hope to start a business when they finish, but it is tough. The success rate is usually low, though no lower than the general success rate of start-ups. 

 

I remember a worker who had been in domestic service for two decades and put her son through school. At first he rang her often and they talked a lot, but eventually, she said that he was only ringing to ask for money, so she decided to give up her job and go home. The relatives came and partied. She set up a restaurant and employed relatives who came and asked for jobs. Within a year, the restaurant had gone bust, the employees had dispersed, her husband had left her and she barely heard from her son. 

 

There are happier returns. Another domestic worker, who was employed by a relative, was among the most focussed people I knew. She was very disciplined about splitting her earnings: part to send home, part to save, and her goal was to go into hotel management. She learned computer skills in her spare time. When she had the money she needed, she returned to Indonesia and the last thing I heard, was co-manager of a hotel that was doing very well.

 

Here in Singapore, the employer must pay for a worker's return home. Some male workers are sent home by their employers before they've had a chance to make back their initial outlay, which usually takes about a year. Those workers normally try to go abroad again immediately, sometimes without even letting their families they've returned to their home country, they feel so embarrassed by it. This is an experience we've had with Bangladeshi men. TWC2, the NGO I work with, tries to contact them after their return and they've already gone abroad.

 

I think the key point here is that successful return and integration has a lot to do with what goes before.

When a worker is able to plan ahead, to have a goal and the possibility of reaching it step by step, s/he has a better chance of having a successful return than one who is running fast just to keep up with a family's needs. This is not just a matter of personal choice, of course, but of circumstances: you can't get a decent employer just by wishing for one. But this shouldn't depend on good fortune. This is why we need a robust international framework of protection and support that will allow migrant workers a better chance of achieving what they hoped to do: it's about decent incomes, safety, health, the right to communicate, time off and opportunities to learn, which migrants handle pretty well given the chance. This is the foundation for happier returns and reintegration.

 

John Gee

Re: Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by Mitchell P. Duran at December 08. 2011

Previously Administrator wrote:

 

Return migration is an integral and crucial component of international migration and is usually a part of comprehensive migration governance approaches in both countries of origin and destination. Yet, return is a complex and multifaceted process that can take many forms. It can be permanent or temporary, directed to the community of origin or to a different location within the country of origin, planned or unplanned, and can be linked to causes such as failure to find suitable employment in the destination country, poor working conditions and low wages, discrimination, exploitation and violence. While it is often the outcome of a decision making process that involves the migrant and his/her household members over a more or less long period of time and therefore  allowing a certain degree of preparedness, in many other instances, return is abrupt and unplanned, and can be linked to changing  socioeconomic condition at destination, or even the consequence of arrest and enforcement by authority officials.  In these cases returned migrants might find themselves in situations that are similar, if not worse, to those that led to their decision to migrate.   Variables such as length of the stay at destination and the type of migration experience have an important impact on the degree of success of reintegration: once back at origin, migrants can, for example, face serious cultural, social, and economic difficulties that affect the individual, their families, and their communities.

In order to design and implement policies that effectively address the specific needs of returnees and their families, it is therefore important to understand the main characteristics of returnees and what influence their decision to come back.

We need to have not only to have a better understanding on who returns when, but also of the characteristics, processes, causes and effects of these different forms of return on the socio economic reintegration of migrant workers to the countries of origin in both the medium and long term.

Let us start from looking at who decide to return and what policies are in place to support them.

 

  1. Returnees’ characteristics: in your national context, what are the profiles of migrant workers who return from employment overseas? Do women and men present different patterns of return? Why do some migrants have a stronger degree of preparedness than others? How is the issue of return preparedness dealt with or taken into consideration in the framework of existing migration policies in your country?  Is there any data collection and management system in your country that captures the number and profile of return migrants? If yes, how is information generated and shared for policy review and development?

 

  1. Return policies: Is there a national policy on return in your country? What are the main objectives? How effective is it with regard to its objectives?  How well is it structured at destination and at the central and local levels in origin country?  Are there formal mechanisms to facilitate return?  Who are the stakeholders involved in the implementation?  What, in your opinion, needs to be improved?

 

Attachments

Re: Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by Mitchell P. Duran at December 09. 2011

POST FROM BATIS CENTER FOR WOMEN, Inc. — PHILIPPINES

 

Realities of return and reintegration

 

The foregoing was contributed by Andrea Luisa Anolin, Executive Director of the Batis Center for Women, Inc., a non-profit organization in the Philippines that provides assistance and services to returned distressed migrant workers for about 22 years now.  Batis has been a partner of the ILO in the implementation of return and reintegration projects.

 

We would like to share our thoughts on return and reintegration from our experience as direct service providers extending assistance to returned distressed Filipino women migrant workers and their families for over two decades.

 

Overseas employment disrupts the rhythm of migrants’ lives with their families and communities. Adjusting to this disruption entails preparation on the part of the migrants and their families, prior to the eventual departure, the prolonged separation, and expected return (whether temporary or permanent), as well as reintegration. With adequate preparation, goal setting, realistic expectations and adjustment on the part of the migrants and their families in all stages of the circular migration cycle, with minimum standards of work overseas assured, and with an enabling environment in the country of origin (from the national to the local levels) to absorb and provide social and economic reintegration options for returned OFWs, the odds of successful return and reintegration are heightened.

 

We have worked with women migrants whose experiences have been further disrupted by abuse, exploitation and the violation of their rights, natural and/or man-made disasters, wars, conflicts and policy environments not favorable to foreign workers in countries of destination.  We have observed that facilitating humane return — extending assistance to help rebuild lives, and working toward sustainable and successful reintegration — is oftentimes an arduous journey.

 

Reintegration challenges. While significant strides have been made to create the enabling environment for overseas Filpino workers (OFWs) to successfully reintegrate back to their families and their communities in terms of evolving government policies and programs on return and reintegration, as well as developing institutional infrastructures and capacities to translate these into concrete programs and services on the ground, much more action needs to be done to bridge the gap between existing programs and services and the target beneficiaries of these services.

 

While thousands may have been reached and may have benefited from government and civil society initiatives to facilitate humane return and/or successful reintegration, the numbers may not be enough yet to constitute a critical mass of beneficiaries that will transform the economic benefits of migration into a qualitative experience of social and economic development impacting beyond individual OFWs and their families. Awareness among target beneficiaries of available services for returned OFWs and their families, and the requirements and processes involved needs to be clearly and extensively communicated to target beneficiaries until the information is absorbed and internalized as to affect attitudes and behavior on return and reintegration.

 

Limited assistance. For the past several years, Batis — as part of the ILO-EU Project on facilitating humane return and successful reintegration — has been pro-actively seeking out victims of trafficking and exploitative migration on the ground, in partnership with the Provincial Governments of Nueva Ecija and Ilocos Sur. This is being done because many distressed migrants who return fall within the cracks of available programs and services or are being provided limited assistance that may have made their return to their families and communities possible, but not necessarily sustainable reintegration.

 

 

Bringing direct services closer to the ground, where the migrants are in partnership with duty-bearers from the local governments and line agencies — from immediate assistance, to continuing care and support toward social and economic reintegration — helps create local social and economic support mechanisms to help distressed migrants transition from a difficult experience overseas to a more hopeful life back with their families and communities. It also helps build the capacities and raise the awareness of service providers on the ground.

 

Batis tries to mobilize and build linkages with local government officials and personnel, representatives of line agencies, relevant support organizations on the local level, and even successful returned migrants as part of our efforts to establish lifelines of support for returned women migrant workers. Oftentimes, the services, albeit limited and not oriented toward returned migrants, are in place. 

 

The “dis-connect”. However, the connection to make these services known and available and relevant to returned migrant workers who need it is not yet in place. How to make these services more relevant in addressing the needs of the returned migrants is challenging, and needs a lot of work.  Further, they need to be accessed by returned migrants with regularity to make the connection happen, and operationalize. They need to be part of a working system whose framework recognizes the need to address the impact of migration on individual OFWs, their families, and communities in order to minimize the social costs of migration, and to ultimately translate its economic benefits to sustainable development.

 

From our experience, working directly with returned distressed women migrant workers as they work to overcome their negative migration experiences and take the leap toward accessing these services to sustain their reintegration initiatives, we sense their frustration, their impatience as they negotiate and navigate the bureaucracy that stands between them and these services. We also see how duty-bearers work to facilitate women's access to these services, only to be met by obstacles that need time and patience.

 

Way forward. Service providers like Batis Center for Women and other NGOs that work at the local levels serve as facilitators to help bridge the gap, and are actually serve as so-called lifelines to returned distressed women migrant workers. They also give feedback to duty-bearers to enhance the delivery of these services, until such time that they become second nature.

 

We need to continue to build on, expand and scale up existing initiatives on humane return and sustainable reintegration to match the rate of deployment of OFWs. We need to involve more people at all levels of governance and with various forms of partnerships to create the enabling environment for the social and economic reintegration initiatives of individual OFWs or even OFW groups to succeed, whether through their own agency, or assisted/ facilitated by government and civil society programs.

 

 

Re: Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by Mitchell P. Duran at December 09. 2011

POST FROM KANLUNGAN CENTRE FOUNDATION, INC. — PHILIPPINES

The foregoing was contributed by Noel Valencia, Executive Director of the Kanlungan Centre Foundation., Inc., a non-profit organization in the Philippines that is involved with addressing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)/ migrants issues, and problems faced by OFWs, their families and communities.  Kanlungan is an implementing partner organization of the ILO-EU Return and Reintegration Project, specifically focusing on OFWs/migrants coming from the Province of La Union.  It works closely with the La Union Provincial Government, regional government line agencies and Bannuar Ti La Union.   

 

Reintegration policies and experiences:

The specific focus of the current ILO-EU Return and Reintegration Project is the social and economic reintegration of returned and trafficked women migrant workers. Basically, the types of reintegration activities are hinged on the gradual personal transformation of migrants from harrowing experiences in the destination countries. It is, so to speak, bringing the migrants back to life again. It is regaining their humanity and dignity as a people.  

At this point, the Project concentrates on distressed and trafficked women migrant workers who were previously employed as domestic household workers in various destination countries, particularly in the Middle Eastern and North African countries.

Effective strategies. Among the activities that prove to be more successful are the spaces for exhaling and inhaling in order to make their fragmented lives whole. Among the more effective activities are the following: sharing on their narratives, reflection and discernment, provision of legal and psychosocial interventions, accompaniment in their personal journey back to productive lives, provision of support for their economic production, continuing assessment and evaluation.

 The main challenges in the implementation of reintegration measures are in the area of sustainability.  However, Kanlungan and Bannuar believe that women will prevail and deliver.  Women have to capacity to get on with their lives. Women have the will to get over the humps. Women have the zeal to transcend. But they have to have some kind of organization that would fully demonstrate their collective solidarity. Oftentimes, a transformed life could only be sustained through a social network that treasures and cherishes collectivity of humanity.

The more specific measures that can be further developed and nurtured in order to address the critical needs of women and men returned migrant workers are in the areas of sustained economic support and continuing social integration to family and community life. These are in the forms of ongoing economic production through social enterprises and continuing involvement in community organization. What is also valued is the concrete participation of government agencies and personnel in the reintegration process.

The enhancement and advancement of their acumen, skills, attitudes and perspectives in the attainment of the mandate and mission is very necessary. Its palpable output can be measured in the capacity and capability of the women and men migrant workers to become productive forces of the community and society that yearns for genuine transformation.

 

 

Re: Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by Mitchell P. Duran at December 09. 2011

SECOND POST FROM KANLUNGAN CENTRE FOUNDATION, INC. — PHILIPPINES

The foregoing was contributed by Noel Valencia, Executive Director of the Kanlungan Centre Foundation., Inc., a non-profit organization in the Philippines that is involved with addressing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)/ migrants issues, and problems faced by OFWs, their families and communities.  Kanlungan is an implementing partner organization of the ILO-EU Return and Reintegration Project, specifically focusing on OFWs/migrants coming from the Province of La Union. It works closely with the La Union Provincial Government, regional government line agencies and Bannuar Ti La Union. 

 

RETURN MIGRANTS—Support Strategies and Coordination with Service Providers:

The principle of complementarity and “supplementarity” should be the operating guideline among stakeholders involved in providing services prior to and upon return of migrant workers. However, the main stakeholders are the different government and non-government intrumentalities and migrants/families whose main interest and basis of unity is the promotion, protection and defense of migrant workers’ rights and welfare.

The La Union experience is a case in point. The confluence of government, non-government and migrant workers’ resources helps in the continuing provision of legal, welfare and psychosocial interventions to distressed and trafficked migrant workers.

Need for enhancement. However, the mechanisms between relevant stakeholders in countries of origin and destination relative to coordination, information sharing referral systems should be enhanced. There are occasions and incidents during which coordination and cooperation has been found wanting. Hence, there is a crucial need to tighten the cooperative and interactive support system among stakeholders in sending and receiving countries. 

Nevertheless, this should be matched with systems and mechanisms that emanate from the social mandate of protecting the basic human rights of migrant workers, and that follow the principle of complementarity and supplementarity. In sum, the assistance and support to actual and potential returned migrant workers could be sufficiently addressed through the integrative, coordinative and cooperative actions of various stakeholders.

What is critical in the reintegration process is the readiness and willingness of the returned and trafficked women to get organized and get things done. Involving diaspora communities’ participation in the development of appropriate policies and programs for the reintegration of returning migrants could only come about through organized and disciplined efforts.

The organization of returned and trafficked women is the social and political expression of migrant workers. Any initiatives in the development of labor migration policies and programs might only have political force and weight if migrant workers were truly and genuinely organized.      

 

 

Re: Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by Mitchell P. Duran at December 09. 2011

POST FROM NRCO-OWWA — PHILIPPINES

 

The foregoing was contributed by the National Reintegration Center for OFWs-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (NRCO-OWWA). An attached agency of the Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the OWWA is the lead government agency mandated to protect and promote the welfare and well-being of Filipino migrants and their families.  The NRCO-OWWA is an implementing partner organization of the ILO-EU Return and Reintegration Project, with beneficiaries coming from the National Capital Region (Metro Manila) and neighboring areas. 

 

Reintegration focus/ successful activities

The OWWA’s reintegration programs and services include psychosocial and economic empowerment on a full cycle — from pre-departure, on-site, and upon return of the workers.  

In collaboration with the ILO, holistic interventions have been developed by OWWA, and subsequently implemented to address specific needs of the target beneficiaries, including victims of exploitation and/or human trafficking.

The psycho-emotional/ social healing/ preparation is considered an important activity toward economic empowerment/ improved economic conditions of the migrant returnees. Project beneficiaries are assisted to access available resources, such as micro-economic assistance (as immediate return support to returnees) is also an important activity, considering the major problem besetting the returnees upon return—income to augment family needs.

At what stage of return? The reintegration program of the OWWA-DOLE covers all phases of overseas employment (before departure, on-site, and upon return).

Upon return, the migrant returnees are provided with psychosocial interventions/ preparation leading to economic empowerment.   

Type of migrants assisted. The full-cycle reintegration program targets all OFWs (overseas Filipino workers).  However, the NRCO has specific projects for returning women and displaced/ distressed OFWs (e.g., exploited migrants, victims of trafficking, specifically the domestic household sector who are more vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation and abuse).

Reintegration challenges — The push and pull factors of overseas employment.

Recommended measures — Sustainable short- and long-term support programs (e.g., logistics, resources, informed decisions, training opportunities to upgrade skills).  

Key stakeholders — Government: Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), DOLE, OWWA, NRCO; recruitment agencies, NGOs, migrants’ organizations, OFW families.

 

Support to return migrants.  With its presence in countries of deployment of Filipino migrants, the OWWA assists and supports actual and potential returned migrants by providing them information on opportunities available back home vis-à-vis the push and pull factors of overseas employment.  

 

Initiatives involving diaspora communities.  Advocacies on saving mobilization toward capital formation for families left behind to undertake enterprise development — to prepare for the eventual return of OFWs, as well as information on business and investment opportunities in the Philippines.

 

Re: Welcome to the discussion on Return and Reintegration

Posted by Robert L. Larga at December 09. 2011

As we know very well, many migrant workers incur debts throughout the migration process.  During recruitment and prior to actual deployment, migrant workers need huge amount to cover placement fees, obtain proper travel documents, and some amount to leave their families to sustain needs at least for the first few months they are away.  They obtain loans from loan sharks or lending institutions referred by recruitment agencies.  To secure the loans, they either mortgage their titles to small lands, or issue checks in the hope that they will be able to guarantee its payments through earnings abroad unmindful that they may face criminal charges if they do not make good of the checks.  When things go wrong at destination and recruitment agencies are nowhere to be found or abandon their obligation to repatriate their recruits, or when government support for repatriation is delayed, the relatives back home produce money to cover their return if only to ensure their security and safety.  Coming home empty-handed, they now worry about debt payments, apart from the criminal charges or civil action they will eventually face.  The thought of facing jail terms complicates eventual reintegration, if not hinder the helping process.

Therefore, legal assistance and other support services throughout the legal procedures are important components of reintegration assistance.  Unfortunately though, in many cases, migrant workers are left alone on this - simply for the reason that, loan transactions are personal liabilities.  I agree, they are.  But access to legal remedies must be made known to the migrant workers and adequate legal support should be made available.

This reminds me of a group of returnees being assisted partly by the ILO-EU project through OWWA. At destination, the DFA/POLO/OWWA assisted in filing complaints against the company where they worked while counter charges were filed against their recruiters in the Philippines.  These cases remain pending with no indication when they will be resolved, whether favorable to the migrant workers or not.  They won a labour case against the recruiter but their claims were not fully satisfied when otherwise, they could have paid their loans and settled the criminal charges they are facing.  It was good that support mechanisms were there, at least.

But, up to what extent can the government provide assistance in cases where they are considered as purely personal transactions? But the government provides legal assistance as well to migrants who commit a criminal offense at destination, and I thought they are also personal actions.  How then do we draw the line between an offense committed abroad and an offense committed at home vis-à-vis the support migrant workers should get?  Does distinction matter, or should it matter at all?

 

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