This module is a resource for lecturers

The role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

NGOs may play a significant role in making sure smuggled migrants fully enjoy the rights they are entitled to as well as in delivering specific and tailored assistance. They might be in a privileged position to provide, for instance, relevant information regarding access to justice and/or immigration advice, medical and psychological support, and interpretation services. To this effect, it is recommended that States - as the holders of obligations to ensure, respect and promote human rights - establish robust cooperation agreements with such NGOs that have well-trained staff and are able to provide services in a professional, non-discriminatory and effective manner. Nonetheless, it should be kept in mind that, even where States resort to the assistance of NGOs (or other entities) to fulfil their human rights obligations, States remain ultimately responsible for ensuring, respecting and promoting individual rights. By relying on the assistance of NGOs (or other entities) to make sure their duties are carried out in the most effective manner, States do not transfer the responsibility for abiding by, and giving effect to, said duties.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) cooperates with NGOs in several domains. Similar avenues of collaboration may be explored by States.

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IOM and NGOs collaborate on a broad variety of migration management issues globally: (…)

2. Assisted Voluntary Returns: IOM is working with NGOs in each of the three stages of assisted voluntary returns: pre-departure, transportation and post-arrival. IOM coordinates with NGOs to provide information dissemination, counselling, medical assistance, transport assistance and reintegration. NGOs also facilitate return assistance for migrants in an irregular situation and other migrants, such as unsuccessful asylum seekers, trafficked migrants, and qualified nationals. (…)

3. Human Rights of Migrants: NGOs and IOM work together in organizing or carrying out workshops, seminars and information dissemination campaigns specifically directed at increasing awareness of the human rights of migrants. IOM and NGOs also conduct research and collect information to identify and address abuses. (…)

5. Movement Management: NGOs assist IOM in various components of temporary and permanent resettlement or return programs of migrants to their countries of origin, e.g., cultural orientation, tracing and family reunification, sponsorship, transit assistance, and post-movement follow-up services.

6. Labor Migration: NGOs are important partners in promoting regular labor migration, within the framework of combating irregular migration, fostering the economic and social development of countries of origin, transit and destination and ensuring respect for the rights and integrity of labor migrants.

7. Mass Information: NGOs play a significant role in researching, designing and implementing public information campaigns to raise awareness of various migration issues through mass media.

8. Migration Health: IOM's Medical Health team works closely with NGOs in managing health assessments for prospective migrants and refugees in view of their resettlement or return, addressing a broad spectrum of health issues. (…)

International Organization for Migration
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Lawyers for Human Rights - South Africa

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) is an independent human rights organisation with a 39-year track record of human rights activism and public interest litigation in South Africa. LHR uses the law as a positive instrument for change and to deepen the democratisation of South African society. To this end, it provides free legal services to vulnerable, marginalised and indigent individuals and communities, both non-national and South African, who are victims of unlawful infringements of their constitutional rights.

Established in 1996 LHR's Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme is a specialist programme that advocates, strengthens and enforces the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and other marginalised categories of migrants in South Africa.

Lawyers for Human Rights
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Médecins sans Frontières

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continued to provide medical assistance to refugees and smuggled migrants along the Central Mediterranean route throughout the last few months of 2017. At sea, the dedicated search and rescue vessel Aquarius, run by MSF in cooperation with SOS MEDITERRANEE, rescued 3,645 people from unseaworthy boats in the Mediterranean and brought them to ports of safety in Italy. At disembarkation, MSF provided psychological first aid after tragic rescues, in addition to running several mental health and healthcare projects in Sicily.

Médecins sans Frontières, 29 January 2018
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