Need to strengthen grassroots responses to migrant workers

By Justine Gitanjali Senapati

The recent Regional Conference on Migrant Workers with Asian realities was the third in the series of the meetings that dealt with the issues on migration.

The September 9-11 meet focused on the Asian context with the theme of “Migrant Workers: An Asia-Pacific Experience.”

The first Conference was held in Rome in 2016, the second in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2017.

The New Delhi conference held at Don Bosco Provincial House, Okhla, was sponsored and organized by the Congregations of St. Joseph (CSJ) with eight other major International Religious NGOs working in the United Nations (UN) at New York — Fondazione Proclade Internazionale – Onlus (Claretians), Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Loreto, International Presentation Association, Passionists International, Sisters of Charity Federation, UNANIMA International and VIVAT International.

The national co-organizers were Caritas India, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Labour Office, New Delhi, Montfort Social Institute Hyderabad, Streevani Pune and Odisha Regional Forum for Social Action.

The response of the 161 participants for this conference was overwhelming. The richness of the insights, wisdom and experiences of the resource persons, speakers, the enthusiasm and participation of all the participants joined in making the event successful and memorable. That fulfills the first primary goal of this event, namely providing the space for conversation among us around the issues of migrant workers and internally displaced persons due to corporate, conflict, environment and poverty.

The Sisters of St. Joseph are present in 22 of the 29 Indian states. We are committed to integrate our decisions with the outcome statement from this conference and will work with it.

Our members realized that we have a greater responsibility in our constituencies. Many of them expressed that the conference was very educative and informative. It was challenging to some because for many it was a new topic since India denies that we do not have migrants and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in our country but in reality nearly 2.4 million people internally displaced in India alone.

As per the report of UN by “Internal Displacement Monitoring Center,” that the conflict, violence and disaster caused 31.1 million new internally displacements in 2016.

Delegates of St Joseph’s congregations
My sisters were very grateful to the organizing committee for this timely conference in bringing the issue alive and creating the opportunity to connect the grassroots realities with the International Organizations like United Nations. We hope as many requested that there would be the opportunity for a follow-up conference in the near future.

The many positive feedback we have received from respective participants also confirmed the success of the event and confirmed a call for bold commitment, need for further collaboration and not competition.

The hope that the outcome of this workshop would enhance our advocacy at the global policy processes within the UN system. The UN negotiations on Global Compact (Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration) and the 2030 Agenda’s robust and ambitious dream, ‘leave no one behind,’ cannot be met without its realization for all, especially vulnerable populations of migrants and refugees, those of irregular and undocumented status, whose living conditions, human dignity and human rights are neglected by prevalent development and other social policies.

The drafting committee is at work with a statement which will be circulated soon and will be a working document for the participants for a way forward. The statement would help us in realizing the other significant goal of the conference, namely to deepen our individual knowledge of the issues so as to strengthening our response at the grassroots, to understand migration and migrant workers in global and Asian contexts, to develop a deeper understanding of the policies connected with migration and migrant workers in Asia, to promote and strengthen collaboration and network at local, national, regional and global levels.

Report on this was published in Global Sister’s Report (

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