The 10th Anniversary of the Mekong Migration Network celebrating Collective Research and Advocacy in the Mekong

On 4 June 2013, the Mekong Migration Network celebrated its 10th Anniversary at Holiday Gardens Hotel in Chiang Mai. On this special occasion, it launched the two recent publications “Climate Change and Migration” and “Arrest, Detention and Deportation in Thailand: Policies, Issues and Experiences of Migrants” to celebrate collective research and advocacy in the Mekong.

Guests at the event included representatives from the media, representatives from migrant communities, sex workers, women’s groups, donor organizations and scholars, and other representatives from civil society in Burma, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Climate Change and Migration is a project undertaken by the Mekong Migration Network and the Asian Migrant Centre. It considered two selected communities in Burma/Myanmar and Vietnam and explored how environmental changes are impacting on the livelihoods and life and work choices people make, particularly with regards to migration.

Speakers on the panel at the launch included the project partners from Burma/Myanmar and Vietnam.

Mr. Kyan Dyne Aung is a representative from ECODEV, a Myanmar research convener. He presented that environmental changes are an important reason for migration in Ma Gyi Chay Htaut Village, Magway Region, in Myanmar’s central “Dry Zone”. He also highlighted that most respondents cited economic drivers as the main reason to migrate, however, as the majority of the population is dependent on the land and productive resources, both economic and environmental factors are inextricably linked.

Ms. Huynh Thi Ngoc Tuyet is a representative from Center for Research & Consultancy for Development (CRCD), Southern Institute of Sustainable Development (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam), a Vietnam research convener. She spoke of the significant negative impacts that environmental changes are having on local peoples’ lives in Thanh An Commune, Vinh Thanh District, Can Tho City, in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. She explained that as the local economy is primarily dependent on pure wet rice agriculture, environmental changes is one of the main reasons why people would migrate.

While presenting the overall research findings, Ms. Hkun Sa Mun Htoi, MMN secretariat, concluded that it is essential that responses developed to cope with the negative environmental changes recognise the agency and human rights of affected communities, facilitate voluntary migration as a positive adaptive strategy, and prevent forced migration where possible.

The Arrest, Detention and Deportation (ADD) project was undertaken with the support of the Open Society Foundation. The ADD report provides an in-depth and systematic analysis of ADD as experienced on the ground by migrants. Based on over 200 interviews with migrants, key officials and extensive secondary research, the research compares the policies and procedures in place to govern ADD and their implementation in practice.

The panel was composed of project partners from Thailand and Cambodia. Ms. Omsin (Plaii) Boonlert, MMN secretariat, presented the research findings and recommendations addressed to the Thai government and migrants’ countries of origin.

Ms. Po Po, representing the Foundation for Education and Development, presented an update based on the work of her organization with migrant communities. The regularization process is intended to give migrant workers greater protection, but the lack of transparency in the nationality verification process has meant that regardless of whether workers are documented or undocumented, they still face a risk of ADD.

Mr. Sopheap, representing the Cambodian Womens’ Crisis Centre (CWCC) discussed the role of countries of origin and the lack of protection of nationals working abroad, increasing the vulnerability of migrant workers to ADD and other rights violations.

For further information about the reports or panelists, please contact:

Thai: Omsin (Plaii) Boonlert (plaii@mekongmigration.org; +66 (0) 869238313)

English & Burmese: Hkun Sa Mun Htoi (mun@mekongmigration.org; +95 (0) 9450068153)

http://www.mekongmigration.org