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Repository of Practices

Humanitarian Service Points (HSPs)

GCM Objectives

GCM Guiding Principles*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Dates

2016 - Present

Type of practice

Project/Programme

Latest content

Geographic Scope:

Global

Summary

It is the experience of many National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that migrants face significant challenges in meeting basic needs and accessing essential services during their journeys, often experiencing abuse, exploitation and harm. Migrants, in particular those who are in an irregular situation, are often denied access or fear approaching service providers due to the possibility of arrest or being reported to authorities. As outlined in the IFRC ‘New Walled Order’ and ‘Least Protected, Most Affected’ reports, there is an urgent need to address both formal barriers to accessing essential services, such as laws limiting access based on migration status, as well as informal barriers, such as language, culture, cost and lack of awareness as to what services exist. The scope for humanitarian access is also narrowing. There have been suggestions by different political actors that activities of humanitarian organizations should be curtailed, for instance, by banning food distribution to migrant camps or discouraging rescues at sea. This trend of “criminalizing compassion”, sometimes through imposing restrictive legislation continues to hinder access to life-saving support and ultimately can put lives at risk. IFRC is working with National Societies along migration routes to vastly expand its Humanitarian Service Points (HSP) programme. This is part of a broader Case for support programme, bringing together the humanitarian services of 34 National Societies, to people on the move on the migration routes of greatest humanitarian concern spanning Africa, the Middle East and Europe. HSPs are safe spaces run by Red Cross/Red Crescent actors -usually located along migration routes- where vulnerable migrants - irrespective of their legal status in the country- can access or be referred to essential services that might otherwise be inaccessible without fear of arrest or being reported to the authorities. The key objective is to contribute to the safety, dignity and protection of vulnerable migrants at all stages of their journey and to promote resilience. Furthermore, they work hand in hand with local authorities and local organisations or service providers. There is no one-size-fits-all model of operation: The range of services may vary and depends on migrants’ needs and the resources and capacity of the National Society. The service may include information, Restoring Family Links, first aid, basic health services, mental health and psychosocial support, food and non-food item distribution, communication and connectivity and safe referrals for a range of assistance. HSPs may be fixed or mobile spaces, reaching migrants wherever needs exist.

Collaborators

Main Implementer

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

Benefit and Impact

Overall and depending on the services provided, HSPs can directly contribute to the realisation of three objectives of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration that are interlinked, the objective 3: provide accurate and timely information at all stages of migration; the objective 8: save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants; and especially the objective 15: provide access to basic services for migrants.

HSPs help ensure all migrants, irrespective of legal status; have access to targeted and reliable information on their rights and obligations, as well as are informed and referred to appropriate support in a language they understand; are able to communicate with their families facilitating access to means of communication through the restoring family links services; have access to critical humanitarian assistance, which may include emergency and maternal healthcare, shelter, food, psychosocial support, strengthening cooperation with service providers and immigration authorities.

By being strategically located along migratory trails – in countries of transit, destination and upon return - HSPs offer humanitarian assistance where public services may otherwise be unavailable or inaccessible, improving health and safety outcomes for both vulnerable migrants and the communities that host them.

Moreover, HSPs provide an avenue for National Societies to confidently deliver essential services to all migrants - without discrimination and irrespective of status - without risk of interference from authorities.

Through coordination and cooperation – based on a mutual understanding of the auxiliary role of National Societies – humanitarian service points support States in meeting their obligations under international law and ultimately save lives and ensure dignity.

Finally, the Community Engagement and Accountability approach constantly used by the RCRC network will allow to keep people at the center of our programming, listen to their needs and gaining valuable insights that can help addressing key gaps in policies and practice.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

Recommentations:
States should ensure that relevant laws, procedures and/or agreements are in place to enable National Societies and other humanitarian actors to enjoy effective and safe access to all migrants without discrimination and irrespective of their legal status.

States should commit to the establishment of humanitarian service points or ‘safe spaces’, where humanitarian actors are able to provide essential services to vulnerable migrants, with guarantees that such spaces will be protected from immigration enforcement activities.

As part of COVID-19 recovery/building back better ensure that humanitarian safe spaces are included in national legislation and training is provided at national, regional and local levels to ensure that protections afforded to humanitarian safe spaces are understood at all levels of immigration enforcement.

Innovation

Through HSPs, migrants and displaced people will receive more effective assistance and protection, based on a strengthened cross-border and route-based cooperation among National Societies. This focus on route-based cooperation enables more holistic, predictable and adaptable assistance and protection for the evolving needs of people on the move. This cooperation also builds the capacity of National Societies as local actors across borders and along routes (in countries of origin, transit and destination); this includes information exchange; shared analysis; lessons learned and good practices; community insights and feedback; information on available services; possible alerts on new migration dynamics; mapping of Red Cross Red Crescent local branches along migratory routes; establishing cross-border referral mechanisms with due consideration to data protection and confidentiality concerns; and engaging in joint advocacy strategies.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the flexibility of HSPs has demonstrated to be crucial to ensure access and assistance to the migrants in vulnerable situations.

Constant technical support from IFRC and peer-to-peer support from National Societies will ensure scaling up the establishment of HSPs globally. A digital toolkit on HSPs is available on line and provides a framework to set up and implement HSPs for National Societies staff and volunteers.

Date submitted:

02 February 2022

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.

 

 

Humanitarian Service Points (HSPs)

GCM Objectives

Dates:

2016 - Present

Type of practice:

Project/Programme

Latest content

Geographic Scope:

Global

Summary

It is the experience of many National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that migrants face significant challenges in meeting basic needs and accessing essential services during their journeys, often experiencing abuse, exploitation and harm. Migrants, in particular those who are in an irregular situation, are often denied access or fear approaching service providers due to the possibility of arrest or being reported to authorities. As outlined in the IFRC ‘New Walled Order’ and ‘Least Protected, Most Affected’ reports, there is an urgent need to address both formal barriers to accessing essential services, such as laws limiting access based on migration status, as well as informal barriers, such as language, culture, cost and lack of awareness as to what services exist. The scope for humanitarian access is also narrowing. There have been suggestions by different political actors that activities of humanitarian organizations should be curtailed, for instance, by banning food distribution to migrant camps or discouraging rescues at sea. This trend of “criminalizing compassion”, sometimes through imposing restrictive legislation continues to hinder access to life-saving support and ultimately can put lives at risk. IFRC is working with National Societies along migration routes to vastly expand its Humanitarian Service Points (HSP) programme. This is part of a broader Case for support programme, bringing together the humanitarian services of 34 National Societies, to people on the move on the migration routes of greatest humanitarian concern spanning Africa, the Middle East and Europe. HSPs are safe spaces run by Red Cross/Red Crescent actors -usually located along migration routes- where vulnerable migrants - irrespective of their legal status in the country- can access or be referred to essential services that might otherwise be inaccessible without fear of arrest or being reported to the authorities. The key objective is to contribute to the safety, dignity and protection of vulnerable migrants at all stages of their journey and to promote resilience. Furthermore, they work hand in hand with local authorities and local organisations or service providers. There is no one-size-fits-all model of operation: The range of services may vary and depends on migrants’ needs and the resources and capacity of the National Society. The service may include information, Restoring Family Links, first aid, basic health services, mental health and psychosocial support, food and non-food item distribution, communication and connectivity and safe referrals for a range of assistance. HSPs may be fixed or mobile spaces, reaching migrants wherever needs exist.

Collaborators

Main Implementer:

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

Benefit and Impact

Overall and depending on the services provided, HSPs can directly contribute to the realisation of three objectives of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration that are interlinked, the objective 3: provide accurate and timely information at all stages of migration; the objective 8: save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants; and especially the objective 15: provide access to basic services for migrants.

HSPs help ensure all migrants, irrespective of legal status; have access to targeted and reliable information on their rights and obligations, as well as are informed and referred to appropriate support in a language they understand; are able to communicate with their families facilitating access to means of communication through the restoring family links services; have access to critical humanitarian assistance, which may include emergency and maternal healthcare, shelter, food, psychosocial support, strengthening cooperation with service providers and immigration authorities.

By being strategically located along migratory trails – in countries of transit, destination and upon return - HSPs offer humanitarian assistance where public services may otherwise be unavailable or inaccessible, improving health and safety outcomes for both vulnerable migrants and the communities that host them.

Moreover, HSPs provide an avenue for National Societies to confidently deliver essential services to all migrants - without discrimination and irrespective of status - without risk of interference from authorities.

Through coordination and cooperation – based on a mutual understanding of the auxiliary role of National Societies – humanitarian service points support States in meeting their obligations under international law and ultimately save lives and ensure dignity.

Finally, the Community Engagement and Accountability approach constantly used by the RCRC network will allow to keep people at the center of our programming, listen to their needs and gaining valuable insights that can help addressing key gaps in policies and practice.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

Recommentations:
States should ensure that relevant laws, procedures and/or agreements are in place to enable National Societies and other humanitarian actors to enjoy effective and safe access to all migrants without discrimination and irrespective of their legal status.

States should commit to the establishment of humanitarian service points or ‘safe spaces’, where humanitarian actors are able to provide essential services to vulnerable migrants, with guarantees that such spaces will be protected from immigration enforcement activities.

As part of COVID-19 recovery/building back better ensure that humanitarian safe spaces are included in national legislation and training is provided at national, regional and local levels to ensure that protections afforded to humanitarian safe spaces are understood at all levels of immigration enforcement.

GCM Guiding Principles*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.

Innovation

Through HSPs, migrants and displaced people will receive more effective assistance and protection, based on a strengthened cross-border and route-based cooperation among National Societies. This focus on route-based cooperation enables more holistic, predictable and adaptable assistance and protection for the evolving needs of people on the move. This cooperation also builds the capacity of National Societies as local actors across borders and along routes (in countries of origin, transit and destination); this includes information exchange; shared analysis; lessons learned and good practices; community insights and feedback; information on available services; possible alerts on new migration dynamics; mapping of Red Cross Red Crescent local branches along migratory routes; establishing cross-border referral mechanisms with due consideration to data protection and confidentiality concerns; and engaging in joint advocacy strategies.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the flexibility of HSPs has demonstrated to be crucial to ensure access and assistance to the migrants in vulnerable situations.

Constant technical support from IFRC and peer-to-peer support from National Societies will ensure scaling up the establishment of HSPs globally. A digital toolkit on HSPs is available on line and provides a framework to set up and implement HSPs for National Societies staff and volunteers.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Date submitted:

02 February 2022

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.

 

 

*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).