United Nations and VASS call for migration to be included in national and human development strategies

05 Oct 2009

HA NOI – At a workshop on migration held today in Ha Noi, the Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS) and the United Nations in Viet Nam made a call for both the benefits and costs of migration to be reflected in Viet Nam’s national development strategies and plans. This will enable the country to maximize the full potential of migration while reducing the vulnerability that some migrants and their families face.
 
“Migration can help to enhance human development. The women, men and children who move, the communities they move to and those who remain at home all stand to gain. However, it is also true that migrants constitute a group that requires special support and protection from policy-makers and leaders throughout the country,” says Bruce Campbell, UNFPA Representative, while pointing out that the UN remains committed to assist the Government in developing a supportive policy environment for internal migration.
 
The benefits of internal migration are felt at a national and regional level, but also at the individual level by migrants and their families. In Viet Nam, internal migration has been contributing to the rapid economic growth and poverty reduction the country has witnessed during the past twenty years.
Remittances, which circulate part of the cash migrants earn to families and communities at home, is an important benefit of migration. The 2009 UNDP Human Development Report estimates that the total remittances flow in Viet Nam in 2007 was US$5.5 billion.
 
Migrants are among the best educated and most enterprising in rural areas, and use their savings, skills and experience to set up small-and medium-sized businesses in the local economy, thereby helping to create additional jobs and income. They can also benefit from the exposure to new social and cultural influences as a result of migration.
 
Yet there are also costs associated with migration that should be understood and addressed.
“Migration from rural to urban areas puts pressure on existing urban infrastructure and social services such as housing, health care, electricity, water and sanitation. Migrants are highly vulnerable. Being a migrant is expensive and risky for the poor, especially women and children. Often migrants live in insecure, unsanitary conditions and rarely qualify for poverty reduction schemes that are reserved for residents in the places of destination. Employers routinely disregard laws designed to protect migrant workers’ needs and rights,” says Dr Dang Nguyen Anh from VASS.
 
Ensuring equitable access to good quality and affordable health care, education and other social services for migrants is also a challenge. The current residential registration system hinders migrants from accessing the same services and information as non-migrants and unregistered migrants are not included in local authorities’ planning and budgeting for social services. In addition, social stigma can be attached to migrants and they may be viewed by local residents with mistrust and unease. The higher vulnerability of female migrants to sexual abuse and violence places them at risk of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS – mainly due to the lack of social protection.
 
The challenges of migration are not only felt at the destination but also at the departure area. The movement of people from rural areas to cities and industrial zones can have a negative impact on labour markets, especially when those more highly educated or skilled leave. At an individual level, despite the higher household living standards that families left behind may experience from remittances, they also have to deal with the socio-economic and psychological impact of losing a family member. Children left behind are often the most affected by this.
 
The two-day VASS-UN workshop will provide the evidence needed to better understand the positive and negative impacts of internal migration in Viet Nam. It will look at the key changes needed in policies and practices to increase options for migrants and their families, especially the poor and vulnerable, so that they, and society as a whole, can benefit from voluntary economic migration. During the workshop, participants will discuss emerging migration issues and how migration links to development and poverty reduction; migration and women’s rights and health; the impact of migration on families and children left behind; as well as case studies from other Asian countries such as China, Cambodia and the Philippines.

At the VASS-UN workshop, the 2009 Human Development Report (Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development) was also launched. The Report demonstrates that migration contributes significantly to human development but that there needs to be a supportive policy environment to realize its benefits.

The Mission of the United Nations in Viet Nam
The United Nations, in partnership with the government and people of Viet Nam, works to ensure that all Vietnamese people enjoy an increasingly healthy and prosperous life with greater human dignity and expanded choices. Collectively and through its individual agencies, the United Nations cares and creates opportunities for the poor and most vulnerable, and for youth, to whom the future belongs.
In accordance with the United Nations Charter and Millennium Declaration, the United Nations advances the principles of equality and social justice, while providing impartial advice, technical expertise, access to global knowledge and local experience to meet Viet Nam's development challenges.

Contact Information

Pernille Goodall Tel: +84 4 822 4383 – ext 123 One UN Communications team Email: pernille.goodall@undp.org

Nguyen Hong Thanh Tel: +84 4 822 4383 – ext 117 One UN Communications team Email: tnguyen@unfpa.org