The International Organization for Migration continues to provide essential humanitarian and livelihoods assistance to migrants and migrant communities in need
01 October 2021
Despite the ongoing challenges IOM and partners continue providing assistance to support vulnerable migrants and communities
Myanmar has always been a country of significant human mobility and one in four people are internal or international migrants. It is therefore not uncommon to see many leveraging migration to complement their income and livelihoods as Ko Kyaw Latt*, a young internal migrant from Mandalay Region explained:
“I was a household electrician and regularly travelled from my village to other townships for work. Although this was tiring, I could earn a worthy salary”.
However, the ability of internal migrants and communities to benefit from the positive impacts of migration, such as the diversification of livelihoods and incomes, remittances, and the circulation of skills and knowledge, has been disrupted by the multiple crises. COVID-19 control measures such as travel bans and stay-at-home orders continue making migration difficult. As a result, many migrants have lost their jobs and sources of income, leaving them with few options but to put migration plans on hold or return home.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and partners have been providing humanitarian assistance to internal migrants and migrant families in situations of vulnerability. In 2021, 9,508 internal migrants and migrant-sending families, primarily from Rakhine and Ayeyarwady, have been supported with safe return, food and cash allowances, and hygiene kits.
International migrants face similar challenges to those of internal migrants when returning to Myanmar. Renewed outbreaks of COVID-19 in neighbouring countries, particularly in Thailand, have resulted in less job opportunities at usual migrant destinations.
Facing decreasing incomes and unable to send regular remittances, an increasing number of migrants have returned despite the challenging socioeconomic and COVID-19 situation in Myanmar in recent months, with estimates of over 50,000 migrants having returned through official border crossings at the Thai-Myanmar border since February. Having left much behind and facing quarantine immediately upon return, many returning migrants are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
Through its network of Migrant Resource Centres across the country, IOM has mobilized humanitarian assistance to support migrants returning to Myanmar due to the increasingly difficult livelihoods situation abroad.
Since May, a total of 7,434 migrants have been supported with migration information services and humanitarian assistance, including onward transportation to their communities of origin, as well as with meals, clothes and hygiene kits.
Migration in Myanmar
Most Myanmar nationals migrate for better economic opportunities, and 4.25 million Myanmar migrants are abroad, according to a 2019 estimate by MOLIP.
Myanmar is a country of vast internal migration, with around 9.4 million Myanmar nationals migrating within the country – approximately 17 per cent of the population.
The majority of remittances in Myanmar are received from abroad, and 2020 estimates by MOLIP indicate USD 2.8 billion and USD 5.2 billion remittances were received last year through formal and informal channels, respectively.
The strengthening of migrants’ skills to enable access to improved livelihood opportunities, remains a key priority for supporting the resilience of migrant households and communities in light of heightened socio-economic vulnerabilities. While operational constraints remain, IOM has maintained skills development programming and in 2021, IOM and partners have supported 1,130 internal and returned migrants to gain enhanced skills and livelihood opportunities through skills development training on a range of topics, including electrical wiring, sewing, food and beverage, English and Japanese language training, among others.
Kyaw Kyaw was one of the beneficiaries of the skills training. After he was unable to continue as an electrician due to the crises since February, he undertook the motorbike repair training. “It was very useful for me. Though I had no skills in motorbike repair, I have become sufficiently skilled that I now train others at my village and can gain some income”, he said.
IOM and partners in Chin, Shan, Mon and Kayin States and Mandalay, Magway, and Tanintharyi Regions have also been providing micro-enterprise coaching to migrants who successfully complete skills development training. A total of 616 migrants have successfully completed micro-enterprise coaching and launched small businesses.
While the context remains challenging, migrants like Kyaw Kyaw retain their aspirations for the future.
“My future goal is setting up my own motorbike repair shop. When all this passes, I plan to migrate with the skills I have learned and practice motorbike repair in other places.”
IOM and its partners remain committed to support all migrant populations and communities and will continue doing their utmost to ensure essential assistance reaches those in need across Myanmar.
* Name changed to protect identity.
IOM’s critical work in Myanmar has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Japan, the European Union, Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), the Global Fund, and the Livelihoods and Food Security Fund (LIFT).
ရွှေ့ပြောင်းသွားလာ နေထိုင်သူများနှင့် ၎င်းတို့၏ရပ်ရွာလူထုများအား လိုအပ်သော လူသားချင်းစာနာထောက်ထားမှုနှင့် အသက်မွေးဝမ်းကြောင်းဆိုင်ရာ အကူအညီများကို IOM မှ ဆက်လက်ထောက်ပံ့ပေးလျက်ရှိ
မြန်မာနိုင်ငံအတွင်း IOM ၏ အရေးပါသော လုပ်ဆောင်ချက်များသည် United States Agency for International Development (USAID)၊ the Government of Japan၊ the European Union၊ Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC)၊ the Global Fund နှင့် the Livelihoods and Food Security Fund (LIFT) တို့၏ ရက်ရောသော ပံ့ပိုးမှုတို့ကြောင့် ဆောင်ရွက်နိုင်ခဲ့ခြင်းဖြစ်ပါသည်။