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Foreword: Diasporas at the forefront of social protection

Impacts, Dynamics, and Future Opportunities

By Elizabeth (Liz) Warn. Head Labour Mobility and Social Inclusion Division, IOM. | Issue 22

States are responsible for providing social protection to their citizens, and in a migratory context it is countries of destination which are principally responsible. Nevertheless, limitations in migrant coverage and access have given rise to a plethora of informal measures, including those provided by transnational communities and diasporas who support their families and communities through personal networks, granting access to healthcare, education, retirement, and social security. Social protection systems, comprising of a set of public and private policies and programmes aimed at preventing, reducing and eliminating economic and social vulnerabilities to poverty, deprivation and social exclusion* are vital for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, helping individuals and families cope with crises, find employment, invest in health and education, and support the elderly. This publication explores how diaspora leaders and organisations contribute to informal social protection measures in areas such as unemployment, pensions, family benefits, minimum resources, and health benefits.

Effective social protection policies and systems are the cornerstone of thriving societies. They play an instrumental role in accelerating inclusive growth and reducing inequalities. From ensuring access to healthcare and education to recovery after crises, social security is a necessity for communities on the move. In collaboration with iDiaspora, we are thrilled to present this special issue which explores how diasporas are at the forefront of social protection and are redefining traditional perspectives of development and humanitarianism in their communities and beyond.

We delve into the accumulation of vulnerabilities in a case study of the migration transit through the Darién Gap and empowering the diaspora through solidarity and transnational social protection in the case of the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre. Lastly, through an economic lens, we explore the impact of remittances on the social protection of the migrant family and fostering the social capital exchange pathways of the Bangladeshi Diaspora.

We thank our authors for their work, which informs and further contributes to shifts in traditional narratives of social protection. The examples of informal social protection presented in this number highlight the key role of diaspora members in providing health and social security to their families and communities. They also shed light on the predominant role and responsibility of governments in guaranteeing social protection to migrant workers and their own citizens. It is important to emphasise that social security is a fundamental human right firmly rooted in international law, enshrined in many universally negotiated and accepted human rights and labour law instruments.

We would like to thank iDiaspora for another enriching and rewarding partnership, and for the initiative and unwavering commitment of the Diaspora Team at the IOM Headquarters in Geneva. To our readers, thank you for taking the time to read our latest issue. We hope you enjoy it and that it inspires you to support the elevation of the voices of diaspora leaders worldwide for more favourable social protection outcomes in their communities.

* Source: IOM Standing Committee on Programmes and Finance 2023: Enhancing Social Protection for Migrants and Populations in Situations of Vulnerability, including Internally Displaced Persons. Thirty-second Session (S/32/8).


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