Awareness Campaign Against Unsafe Migration, Punjab

Indians are one of the best educated and highest paid groups of immigrants in Europe because of the large Indian diaspora settled in Europe tends to be populated with highly skilled workers, doctors and engineers that arrive with work visas.

However, with this, count of wrongly staying Indians is growing rapidly in the European Countries and its keep on increasing as per the recent trends. Certain push and Pull factor have fueled this flow of migrating through unsafe channel are lack of employment opportunities, rising aspirations for a better life stimulated by the forces of globalization and the attraction of real or imaginary opportunities for high earnings in Europe.

India has been an important player in the process as a supplier of migrant workers since colonial time, though all regions within India did not participate equally. Few regions participated in indentured migration and other regions in free immigration. Punjab region participation was mostly in the free Immigration during Colonial time.

And, now Punjab is becoming the fastest growing supplier of unskilled and semi-skilled workers because of its long history on Migration. Post Second World War reconstruction boom created demand for migrant workers in the developed countries and Punjabis made use of all these developments and migrated in large numbers to these countries and this trend continued. But now the trend of migration has been accompanied by increased in Unsafe Migration in the recent years. Strong Punjabi Diaspora networks, Low agriculture productivity, increasing mechanization of agriculture and farmers indebtedness at phenomenon level and lack of employment opportunities due to low literacy rate, parents fear of unemployed youths to fall prey to drug and alcohol and social evil are the key factors that triggered people of Punjab to go abroad with any channel of migration either safe or unsafe and this also widen the diameter of the circle of Unauthorized Travel Agents and Recruitment agencies.

A large majority of the irregular migrants are from rural areas and most are males in the age group of 21-45 years. Among the destinations in Europe, the UK is the most favored destination to go abroad. Others include Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, and Belgium. With such motive in mind, thousands of Punjabis leave their field to make their fortune in European countries without knowing that unsafe migration route can brings untold misery into their families. And because of this, they come under the influence of agents and sub-agents, who facilitate unsafe immigration. Work permits for skilled immigrants require a lot of documentation and frauds through these routes are difficult. So, that’s why Student visas, family immigrations, Sham marriages and sometimes adoptions are commonly misused to go to abroad.

Very Known Incident i.e. Malta boat tragedy of 1996 in which 272 youths lost their lives. One of the victims was from Ramsinghpur, Punjab. Another youth from Dhina, Punjab died in a boat tragedy wanting to go to Cyprus country.

In April 2002, an over-loaded boat capsized near Turkey. Around 30 youths from the Doaba region, Punjab went missing. They were allegedly on their way to Greece.

A report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), released in 2010, hit the panic button, titled “Smuggling of Migrants from India to Europe, particularly UK: A Study on Punjab and Haryana”. The report has found that year more than 20,000 young men from Punjab attempt irregular immigration. What is even more alarming being that the pattern of irregular immigration from India is spreading to other states such as Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

According to a 2012 UK Home Office report, India is among 10 countries that are the main sources of illegal immigration to Britain. The report, which uses the term ‘irregular’ rather than ‘illegal’, says that 5,895 Indian nationals were ordered to leave the UK in 2010.

Awareness Programme against Unsafe Migration, Punjab:

Having had certain hands on experience of working with Voluntary returns, Caritas India initiated an Awareness Campaign against Unsafe(Irregular) Migration with Navjeevan Charitable Society, Jalandhar as a part of program interventions related to Migration and Assisted Voluntary Return. This campaign is supported by the Ministry of Justice and Safety, The Hague, Netherlands and is being accompanied by the Campaign Committee at Caritas level and Working Group consisting of British High Commission and European Union Liaison Person. The primary aim of this campaign is to spread awareness on the consequences of Unsafe (Irregular) Migration in the state of Punjab, which is one of the main hubs of unsafe migration in India to the said countries. The targeted group of the awareness campaign would be the inhabitants of the Punjab.

This Awareness campaign will cover 46 villages in 26 Blocks of 13 Districts in the State of Punjab based on hotspots identified. It will engage with communities and various stakeholders in Punjab.

Project Objectives:

  • Prevent unsafe migration from Punjab to Europe by raising awareness on unsafe and unethical practices and the potential consequences of Unsafe/Irregular or undignified stay in Europe.
  • Increased informed voluntary returnees, especially most marginalized by providing the required information that help Indian migrants in Europe to return to India with reintegration assistance in a dignified way.
  • Strengthen cooperation with Indian consular and concerned authorities in India regarding identification and return of migrants.

Implementation Strategy:

Caritas India will emphasize dialogue and community participation strategy approach with various stakeholders such as District Development, block Development and Panchayat Officials, Gurudwara Committees other concerned dept. Govt officials, Police and potential migrants. The dialogue will be initiated through a platform for exchange of information and to support and develop an awareness and sensitizing potential migrants and their families for preventing irregular migration.   Major activities under this awareness campaign like roadshows, street plays and seminars in College/High schools and IEC material distribution at public places will be conducted with local partner Navjeevan Charitable Society, Jalandhar to aware people and potential migrants about the realities and potential risks of unsafe Migration from Punjab to Europe.

Also, Caritas India has officially launch the campaign by releasing the “IEC material (flyer, Poster, Handbill) distribution for the information dissemination, social video advertisement on the unsafe migration issue and seminar on Unsafe migration through public transportation, newspaper, public places and organizing the seminar in College/high Schools.