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The importance of safe migration awareness-raising in schools

Labour migration has an important role to play in the context of Cambodia for economic development and poverty reduction. To achieve this, Cambodians need access to safe migration messaging, strong institutional frameworks and knowledgeable and highly responsive local authorities—support which CARE’s Safe Migration and Reduced Trafficking (SMART) project has been providing in Prey Veng province. The Deputy Provincial Governor, who is also Chair of the Provincial Committee for Counter Trafficking, believes these efforts have had a positive impact on community members in the province.

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Prey Veng and Kampong Cham are provinces that have high rates of unsafe migration and trafficking. Volunteers trained by CARE have provided safe migration messaging to over 33,500 rural Cambodians in these areas to help them be able to make informed choices about how and where to migrate. “With access to safe migration messaging, people understand the legal process so they are less reliant on brokers and recruitment agencies,” says the Deputy Governor.

She has identified a big change within her province since awareness-raising began in March 2012. “There is an increase in legal migration because of awareness-raising. People in the community who have information about safe migration can make informed decisions. ” This change in behaviour has an important impact on the safety of vulnerable migrants – particularly women – when they move away from home to find work. Without the proper legal documentation they are at greater risk of exploitation by illegal brokers and difficulties returning home, while also lacking legal protections which could provide support if they encounter difficulties.

Strengthening institutional frameworks has also been key to supporting community members so that when they wish to migrate, the process progresses smoothly. Training for local authorities has improved knowledge of laws relating to trafficking and labour migration and understanding of relevant legal processes—such as which legal documents community members require before moving out of the province.

The Deputy Governor says, “Local authorities now understand how to disseminate information about safe migration…and have increased their response”. She says that local authorities are acting more diligently to verify the legal status of recruitment agencies as well as monitoring brokers in the community.

Monthly meetings of the Provincial Committee for Counter Trafficking – which brings together civil society organisations, NGOs, local authorities and volunteers to discuss issues pertaining to unsafe migration and trafficking – has provided an important opportunity for local authorities to report on migration statistics and respond to urgent cases. CARE’s support to improve the functioning of this has included new reporting procedures and monthly action planning. As a result of this improved data collection, the Deputy Governor has access to up-to-date information on rates of illegal versus legal.

The Deputy Governor says she believes awareness-raising is key to minimise the risk of human trafficking and that this should be scaled up to reach more communities. She says that the evidence of safe and successful migration in Prey Veng and Kampong Cham provinces is starting to be seen through the rebuilding of homes and establishment of small businesses creating economic sustainability for rural families.

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