Effective integration strategies – including social and economic integration of migrants – are critical to the success of the migration process for migrants and the communities they call home. IOM recognizes integration as a two-way process requiring the initiative and goodwill of both migrants and their hosts. This requires adopting both a whole-of-government as well as a whole-of-society approach. Social cohesion and integration are crucial and highly relevant topics for the MENA region, as the region is marked by a strong migratory phenomenon with large population movements, refugees, and internally displaced persons.
IOM supports governments at national and local level to develop programmes that respond to migrants' integration needs and deliver migrant-friendly services, therefore technical support to beneficiaries and stakeholders is offered through trainings, workshops, advisory services, and other capacity-building initiatives, drawing on a range of integration models and best practices gained through field experience.
At the global level IOM has developed an integrative approach to achieve these objectives through the Joint Global Initiative on Diversity, Inclusion and Social Cohesion (DISC), to enhance IOM’s capacity and programming to support Member States and relevant partners in the areas of migrant integration, inclusion, and social cohesion. The DISC Initiative serves as a platform to share, learn, develop, and implement innovative strategies and interventions that tap into the existing assets and potential of both migrants and communities, and supports in countering xenophobia and stigma to foster social cohesion in the COVID-19 response and recovery. The DISC initiative presents a guidance note to provide project managers and developers, as well as event organizers and facilitators, with guidance in fostering migrant integration and social cohesion through social mixing activities “The Power of Contact: Designing, Facilitating and Evaluating Social Mixing Activities to Strengthen Migrant Integration and Social Cohesion Between Migrants and Local Communities”.
Under the DISC initiative IOM aims to:
- Promote a shared understanding and whole-of-society approach to migrant inclusion and social cohesion.
- Develop the skills and capacities of different stakeholders to facilitate inclusion and social cohesion.
- Foster an evidence-based and unifying narrative on the contributions of both migrants and communities.
IOM is actively working on social cohesion and integration in countries like Morocco and Tunisia, with the project “Migration Data Literacy Enhancement Advance Non-Discrimination in North Africa” (M-LEARN) which aims to embed migration data guidance into higher educational systems to contribute to a more informed narrative on migration, offering a first-of-its-kind curriculum on migration data/statistics to be taught in specialized institutions and universities.
Within the framework of The Regional Development and Protection Program for North Africa (RDPP) which aims to "reinforce the social cohesion between migrants and the local population”, IOM’s office in Algiers, in cooperation with Caritas Algeria, organized a full day of entertainment for migrant children at the Paroisse Saint François d'Assise in Burdj El Kiffane, Algiers.”
In Morocco IOM worked to combat labour exploitation and discriminatory practices to access the labour market through the implementation of the “Initiative for Ethical Recruitment in Morocco” (IREM) project, whose focus is on data collection and capacity building activities of key stakeholders to improve labour recruitment practices and treatment of migrant workers.
The IREM project complemented other IOM-led projects in Morocco, such as the national project “Engaging private sector in order to reduce inequalities between migrants and host communities in Morocco” and the regional project “Strengthening National Capacities in Applying International Standards to Improve Labour Migration Management in the MENA Region”.
IOM integration programming thus covers critical phases of the migration continuum, linking pre-departure and post-arrival activities, as well as migrant inclusion and social cohesion interventions, to ensure maximum effectiveness and benefit to diverse populations. Recognizing the importance of social cohesion in dealing with tensions between host and migrant communities, IOM works with media and government services in order to promote a positive and fact-based public perception of migration and of migrants.
In 2018 IOM Egypt and the UN Migration Agency launched a campaign to promote community cohesion among migrants and the Egyptian communities hosting them that went viral. Aiming to use innovative solutions to foster values of diversity, coexistence and community cohesion, the campaign became the top organically viral campaigns ever released by IOM in any country, and the most engaging one.
IOM also knows that early, tailored training and information provision is key to empowering migrants and paving the way for their successful integration. Migrant training includes a wide range of activities designed to facilitate the successful integration of migrants, both permanent and temporary, into their new society. Often delivered in the country of origin and as close as possible to the migrant’s departure date, migrant training provides critical information about migrants’ destination country and identifies the skills needed for migrants to succeed, whether in the workplace or in their new communities.
Programmes designed to promote social inclusion are implemented for the whole spectrum of migrant beneficiaries including youth, unaccompanied minors, asylum seekers and resettled refugees.
Through an innovative project called CIOP (Comprehensive Information and Orientation Programme) IOM aims to strengthen the labour market integration and protection of migrant workers through the provision of technical support and the development of tools and mechanisms to operationalize a management system for tailored and coordinated orientation services that caters to the needs of migrant workers. CIOP directly contributes to GCM Objective 16 – Empower migrants and societies to realize full inclusion and social cohesion – and is a prime example of how innovative approaches can foster multi-stakeholder partnerships around specific policy issues.
Furthermore IOM works closely with migrant leaders, including with religious leaders, through interfaith training designed to empower community leaders in their role to the process of integration, contributing to IOM's comprehensive approach.