We are so excited! There are a few days left toward the upcoming Cross-Regional Youth Academy on Migrant Rights. On this occasion, you will cross paths with migrant workers’ community organizers, representatives of CSOs, human rights defenders, journalists, public officials, and academia from both Southeast and East Asia regions. Yet, you might wonder: Why Cross-Regional? And what on earth is Youth Academy on Migrant Rights all about? Here’s to make things clearer and to set the course of our journey together.
As most of us are aware, migrant workers globally have become one of the most vulnerable and disproportionately affected groups from the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and who are faced with the greatest risk of coronavirus infection. Temporary, low-wage and/or undocumented migrants have limited or no access to healthcare, information, daily necessities and personal protective equipment (PPE), therefore their rights to health is unfulfilled. Migrant workers have been more likely to face employment termination and income loss, often without being eligible for states’ economic rescue packages. For those working in specific sectors, in which demand for labour increased due to the pandemic, the risk of labour rights violations and abuses has also increased.
In the recent decade in our region, there has been an increasing number of migrants from Asian countries migrating to other Asian countries. Almost one third of migrant workers from Southeast Asian countries migrate to another country in the region. Their popular destinations outside the region have been shifting from countries in the Middle East to ones in East Asia, where foreign labour is increasingly in high demand due to ageing populations. Even among East Asian countries, migration within the region is on the rise.
Under the framework of ASEAN, Southeast Asian countries have been making efforts to govern migration collectively within the region and civil societies have been playing important roles to advocate rights of migrants and their families at the local, national and regional levels. However, there has not been much of such efforts among East Asian states (even under the China-Japan-South Korea trilateral summit) or cross-regionally between Southeast and East Asia under the ASEAN Plus Three.
Under this circumstance, it has been increasingly important for multi-stakeholders, including migrants themselves, their families, advocates, CSOs, public and private actors – to share, connect, collaborate and push for changes collectively.
The online youth academy will be the fruit of our collective labour. As youth, we shape the world of tomorrow! Each one of us is an important piece that collectively moulds the future into what we aspire to see. As advocacy for migrant workers’ rights continues to struggle, it is up to us as future leaders to seek betterment for everyone, and the responsibility belongs to all individuals, equally.