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IOM Supports Eastern Caribbean Countries To Better Respond To Cross Border Evacuations

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On Tuesday 13 June 2023, the International Organization for Migration (IOM)  presented a package of tools for Eastern Caribbean governments to improve their preparedness for scenarios where large evacuations from one island to another might be needed, in the context of increasingly severe impacts of climat change, and the possibility of environmental degradation including volcanic scenarios.

The tools were handed over to authorities involved in immigration and border security, social protection, environment and disaster management in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), as part of IOM’s work to support resilience and safe, orderly and regular migration in these island states.

The planning tools included national assessments, a human security analytical tool, best practices and protocols concerning cross border evacuations integrating the human security approach, a Ministerial Declaration to secure high level political support, and a workplan for integrating human security and human mobility considerations in national strategies.

Dr. Clarence Henry, Senior Technical Officerat the Regional Integration Unit of the OECS Commission spoke to the importance of the outputs:

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“The ministerial declaration for us at the OECS Commission is seen as a significant output of this joint program, particularly because we recognize the fight against the impact of climate change and environmental migration, and the ability to respond effectively to environmental migration requires high level political support.

 “It also requires our ability to continue to articulate the necessary support that is needed at the international level to ensure that we’re able to bridge the gap as it pertains to climate change, financing and other critical resource needs that would help us address building  resilience and creating (as Director General Dr Jules highlights,) resilient futures for our citizens in the OECS.” 

Activities were undertaken over the past 18 months under the Programme ‘Promoting a human security approach to disaster displacement and environmental migration in the Eastern Caribbean” led by the UN Office for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean an implemented by IOM Dominica.

The programme is funded by the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS) and will assist the countries of the OECS region to respond, through plans and policies, to the complex human needs of people displaced due to climate change and disasters.

Activities included an assessment of the integration of the human security approach in existing policies and past response actions, using a tool developed under the project, to identify some of the good practices already existing in OECS countries.

Protocols were drafted to guide cross border evacuation in the context of environmental migration (planned movement) or disaster displacement (sudden evacuation with limited planning).

Technical officers from the relevant sectors in 9 of the 11 OECS states were engaged throughout the process, including to share knowledge and experience, review and assist in finalizing the draft protocols, to ensure that they are suitable and context-specific for the countries and the people involved.

Partners included the OECS Commission, the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with resources generously provided by the Trust Fund.

Project Coordinator at IOM Dominica,Viola Pascal, noted that the effects of climate-related hazards are the lived reality of the region, and announced a possible Phase Two under development, to mainstream the human security approach in the wider Caribbean Community CARICOM.

“As you would have heard through all of these presentations and remarks that were provided, the Human Security Unit, the project partners, and the regional and national stakeholders have recognized the relevance and benefit of the this project in the region, in terms of managing disaster risk and having in place people-centered, prevention-oriented, and comprehensive plans for the protection of vulnerable populations in the region.  And as we have seen from all of these presentations and also from our experience, this is not a matter of if these hazards will affect us, but it is our lived reality.  And given the impact of climate related hazards, and you know all of those threats to our human security that often fuel environmental migration, the proposal has been extended for a second phase of the joint program, and the hope is to scale up the intervention, expanding the geographical coverage to the wider CARICOM region.

IOM also presented a video showcasing best practices of the inclusion of the human security approach in the OECS.   This video is meant to be a mainstay tool, which will be provided to all project participants and interested entities to use in fora where they have the opportunity to advocate for including the human security approach in small island developing states (SIDS).

The objective of the programme was  to provide increased protection for vulnerable people that might be displaced by the effects of climate change and environmental degradation throughout the region.

SOURCE: International Organization for Migration

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