IOM launches diaspora organizations survey to support Eastern Caribbean government engagement
Eastern Caribbean - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched the Diaspora Groups of the Eastern Caribbean: Opportunities, Challenges, and Needs of Collaboration, in a step to further enhance engagement between governments of the region and their diaspora communities. The launch was done at a virtual event with participation from representatives of IOM, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Government of Grenada, and the University of the West Indies.
This study was implemented by IOM, under the Western Hemisphere Program (WHP), and funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
OECS Senior Technical Officer on Regional Integration, Dr Clarence Henry noted that this report has the potential to contribute further to the ongoing efforts by OECS countries to stay connected with the diaspora. “We would appreciate it much to continue to collaborate mutually with the IOM on initiatives that will seek to accomplish these efforts,” said Dr Henry.
The OECS official highlighted that data and information, like that provided in the report, are needed to strengthen OECS governments’ targeted support to the Diaspora through respective states’ Diaspora Units.
“It is of critical importance that the relationship between the Diaspora and the country of origin remain bi-directional,” shared Dr Henry, “while the countries of origin receive economic support from the Diaspora it must also be noted that there are areas where the Diaspora require their support as well.”
In her opening remarks, IOM Acting Chief of Mission for Guyana and Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean, Eraina Yaw, noted that members of the Caribbean diaspora are diverse, well-educated and are known for maintaining strong ties with their home countries. This is despite the Eastern Caribbean having one of the highest rates of emigration in the world.
“This is reflected not only by the high levels of remittances they send home, but also through the diasporas’ consistent engagement with their communities of origin and interest in supporting the development of their home countries,” explained the IOM Official.
However, Yaw shared that these aspects of migration and diaspora relations are often overlooked and understudied. According to Yaw, it was for this reason that the diaspora survey and report was implemented.
“IOM recognises the important function that these organizations play in connecting diaspora communities abroad to their countries of origin,” explained the Acting Head of Mission. She further explained that the report aims to identify the level of organization of diaspora groups from the Eastern Caribbean sub-region, their needs, obstacles they face, and their level of commitment to engage with governments from countries of origin. Yaw added that IOM is in the process of planning similar reports for other parts of the Caribbean that include Haiti, Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Diaspora Groups of the Eastern Caribbean surveyed the diaspora organisations of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines located in Canada, the USA, and the UK. Through comprehensive surveys and interviews with diaspora leaders and government representatives, this report assessed the main challenges to engagement between diaspora communities, the governments of their countries of origin, and the OECS.
The study also highlights the opportunities for enhanced future engagement between these bodies as Caribbean states and regional institutions increasingly recognise the contributions from and potential for improved working relationships with their diaspora communities. A digital copy of the report can be found here.
In addition to this written report, this research has resulted in a database and digital map of diaspora organizations available on IOM’s iDiaspora platform, which can be found at: www.idiaspora.org.