Over the last few decades millions of people have migrated between Mekong countries and beyond in search of security and a better life. Millions of migrants live “side-by-side” with local communities but not “together.” This creates a sense of isolation, and prevents them from playing a more visible role as members of a community. Migrants continue to be treated by the governments as if they are purely “temporary”. How long is “temporary”? How long can one stay somewhere without hoping for a sense of belonging and acceptance? How long before one is allowed to play a full role in society? Little attention has been given to the social inclusion of migrants in society and what needs to be done to go beyond “tolerance”, embracing the friendship and contributions migrants bring to society.
Working hand-in-hand to promote the social inclusion of migrants and their families
In November 2015 MMN commenced a project entitled: “Beyond ‘Tolerance’: Working hand-in-hand to promote the social inclusion of migrants and their families” supported by the Toyota Foundation, the project is part of MMN’s long-term efforts to promote social cohesion in the region.
“Beyond ‘Tolerance’” aims to promote social integration and tackle the issue of social exclusion of migrants, in the context of origin counties Cambodia and Myanmar as well as destination countries Thailand and Japan. It also aims to provide opportunities for CSOs to exchange information and strategies and explore areas for collaboration. Mutual exchange among CSOs in Myanmar and Cambodia is strategic in developing responses as countries of origin. As for destination countries, Thailand and Japan will be the focus of this project. It is crucial for CSOs in Myanmar and Cambodia to strengthen their understanding on the issues faced by migrants in Thailand, the major destination country, while the project also provides the project collaborators the chance to gain better knowledge of migrants’ situation in Japan. This will broaden the scope of their understanding on migration beyond the GMS. The project also aims to create multiple impacts on both policy and public perception of migration.
The major components of the project involved country visits to the four countries concerned, the production of a multimedia presentation, including photographs and interviews, a series of talks and exhibitions in Bangkok, Yangon, and Phnom Penh, and the advocacy paper.