LAHORE: In collaboration with the provincial labour and human resource department and Punjab University’s social welfare department, the Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) organised a conference on “Migration from Pakistan: Facts, Challenges and Avenues” to mark this year’s International Migrants Day.

The conference was held at the Environmental Law Centre, University Law College, Punjab University (PU).

It brought together academia, policymakers, civil society and international organisations working on migration issues in Pakistan to discuss the importance of bridging the gaps in the migration cycle and improving services and support for Pakistani migrant workers, ensuring their protection and safety throughout the whole migratory process.

Several academia representatives discussed the social and economic aspects of migration and representatives of the Occupational Safety and Health Environment, the Human Right Commission of Pakistan and the Justice Project Pakistan provided further insight into labour rights and human rights, in the backdrop of challenges faced by labour migrants.

The International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) representative said that providing information on migration at the pre-decision and pre-departure stages was essential to empower the Pakistani people to take an informed decision on their migration trajectory and ensure migrants knew about their rights and obligations while staying abroad.

MRC coordinator Nadia Kashif underlined the importance of raising awareness on pathways of legal migration to benefit migrants and their families as well as the dangers and consequences of irregular migration. She said the MRC Lahore had reached out to over 50,000 potential, intending and outgoing migrants through direct counselling and information sessions at schools and universities in Punjab and recently also through the hotline 0304- 111-2-123.

Labour and Human Resource Department Director (south) Zaigham Abbas said Pakistan was a pro-migration country and the challenges and reality had compelled the policymakers to focus on labour migration.

“We are working and developing the projects that provide solutions to the challenges faced by aspirant migrant workers at home and abroad. We would like to prepare them to deal with these challenges nationally and internationally.”

Syed Hassan Zaidi, a filmmaker and NCA teacher, presented his award winning documentary ‘Dunkey Following the European Dreams’, reflecting the hardships and struggles of irregular Pakistani migrants who cross the border through Iran, Turkey and travel to Europe.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2019