The historic Silk Road stretched from the most eastern parts of Asia to Europe; it connected continents, countries and people in trade and intellectual exchange, and brought mutual cultural enrichment. Its many different routes – called the Silk Routes – have given name within the framework of the Budapest Process to the Silk Routes region, covering Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
ICMPD Silk Routes Regional office was established in 2016 and is currently located in Vienna.
Migration challenges in the Silk Routes region
- In the more recent past, migratory movements continued within the region and from the Silk Routes countries to neighbouring regions due to war, conflict and economic reasons as well as family ties and ethnic connections.
- These include forced migration between Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, between Bangladesh and Pakistan, between Iran and Iraq and from all five countries towards Europe, Australia and elsewhere.
- Migratory movements have also been propelled by economic reasons; they include labour migration among all countries of the region.
- Several decades of protracted refugee situations have, among other factors, contributed to increased flows of irregular migration. Return migration and irregular migration have increasingly become issues that need to be addressed.
- Opening avenues for regular migration is a priority for the countries of the region.
The size, duration and other characteristics of the migration flows from and within the region necessitate a move from the humanitarian/emergency response to long-term planning and policy making that encompasses a more holistic approach towards migration management and international cooperation
Establishment of the ICMPD Silk Routes Regional Office, which hosts the Budapest Process Secretariat, enhanced operational cooperation and actions implemented to contribute to the advancement of the inter-governmental dialogue within the region and for the overall whole-of-government approach to migration management.
The approach adopted fostered evidence-based policymaking and the exchange of operational information at national and regional levels. The Budapest Process Istanbul Ministerial Declaration 2013 together with the 2019 “Istanbul Commitments on the Silk Routes Partnership for Migration” adopted “A Call for Action – a five-year plan” that includes the guiding principles and priorities of the Silk Routes region.
Lessons learned from the ongoing work in the region:
- Migration governance is largely compartmentalised in the Silk Routes countries and further efforts are needed to ensure sustainable inter-ministerial/inter-agency coordination and cooperation mechanisms at national and at regional levels
- Trust building through regular meetings, contacts and consultations are crucial in establishing a regional understanding of migration and forced displacement challenges and developing a regional response to address them
- Close collaboration with and involvement of government stakeholders is crucial in ensuring ownership and sustainable impact of the action
- The size, duration and other characteristics of the migration flows from and within the region necessitate longer-term planning and policy making that encompasses a more holistic approach towards migration management and international cooperation
In order to effectively address the challenges and opportunities of migration in the Silk Routes region, long-term visioning, policy making, comprehensive migration governance and international cooperation based on partnerships, human rights and solidarity remain indispensable. The region will continue to be a top priority for ICMPD and the Budapest Process and we are grateful for the sincere and productive participation of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders from the region and beyond.Sedef Dearing Head of the Budapest Process Secretariat & Head of Regional Office Silk Routes