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Information is vital for migrants

Building resilience through information and communication

Migrants and refugees are not only in need of assistance in the form of shelter, food or health care. They are also in need of accurate, lifesaving and life-enhancing information. When on the move, or in a foreign country, migrants rely on the availability of trusted and timely updates to remain safe.

Information deprivation continues to be a major challenge in the migration response. Migrants and refugees’ limited access to information on their rights, services available and safe migration choices, combined with unverified rumours and speculation is driving individuals to take risky journeys and heightens their vulnerability to trafficking, sexual or labour exploitation.

 

It is critical to support migrants’ ability to protect and care for themselves and self-guide their way out of trouble. Timely, accurate and trusted information enable people to help themselves and navigate their way to safety. Also, listening to migrants’ voices, needs and concerns and engage them is crucial to reduce their vulnerability and be accountable to them.

Bringing vital, reliable and timely information to people in need so that they can make timely decisions, as well as listening to migrants needs and concerns is an important activity that National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies carry out to make individuals more resilient.

Virtual volunteer

The Virtual Volunteer is a digital platform to support migrants in times of vulnerability with reliable, trusted and constantly updated information. Universally accessible with any connected device, it allows migrants to locate services, find advice on how to stay safe and healthy and to contact the Red Cross and Red Crescent to ask for support. The Virtual Volunteer leverages technological ubiquity with the Red Cross and Red Crescent on the ground.The virtual volunteer provides info in four languages.

Safe points

Safe Points are essentially Italian Red Cross help desks that provide information and basic support to all migrants regardless of their status. They aim to provide services and reduce the vulnerability of all migrants in need, particularly those who do not have access to the reception system. Services provided include legal information and advice, information on rights, first aid, basic health care and orientation, psychosocial support, and RFL.

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Self-protection messages

National Societies of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the United States, together with the ICRC, have developed a set of self-protection messages – distributed through laminated leaflets and local radios – to inform migrants passing through Mexico of the risks they may encounter on the way, how to take preventive measures to look after their health and wellbeing and where to find support to reduce vulnerabilities along their journey.

Community committee

The Palestine Red Crescent Society is promoting community committees, comprising small groups of migrants nominated to work with service providers to address key needs and improve the quality of services delivered. In Lebanon, the Palestine Red Crescent Society – Lebanese branch meets these committee representatives weekly to discuss the state of needs and services within settlements and works with them to find solutions to issues raised. This leads to regular information sharing and detailed feedback on issues facing refugees being shared with service providers to improve services.

Refugee Buddy

The Netherlands Red Cross launched the Refugee Buddy application to supply migrants recently arrived in the Netherlands with information about their new area of residence. The app was developed in close consultation with migrants who had said that lack of any information on where they were or what to do was a key challenge. The existing Red Cross Red Crescent First Aid app has been translated and integrated into the Buddy app.

Walkie Talkie

The Walkie-Talkie information service, established by Hellenic Red Cross with IFRC support, has provided hyperlocal and actionable audio information to migrants in camps during the peaks of arrivals on Lesvos island. The high turnover of migrants meant that there was consistently a high number of people who needed fast and easily digestible information. To make it easy for every person to navigate the landscape and services, an audio system, called the walkie-talkie system, loudly broadcasted pre-produced audio-messages in various languages and through small freestanding speakers or loud speakers.

About the IFRC

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is the world's largest humanitarian network and is guided by seven Fundamental Principles: Humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, universality and unity.

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