The International Labour Organization (ILO) in Colombia, with the support of the European Union and the World Food Programme, launched (20 February–1 March) the first Migrant Bird Tour for Social Protection. The initiative was carried out within the SP&PFM country project on the Promotion of Labour Formalization in the Migrant and Returnee Population from Venezuela in Colombia. It included field visits to seven regions of the country to collect feedback and recommendations for public policies that will improve the reach of social protection subsystems to migrants and returnees in Colombia and foster their transition from informality to formality.

Participants of the Migrant Bird Tour for Social Protection

Around 100 people participated in the initiative, including officials from the Ministry of Labour along with representatives from local governments, municipalities, guilds and workers’ organizations who shared their insights and offered contributions for developing social protection policies with a territorial focus.

The tour highlighted a common challenge, explained Martha Agudelo, National Coordinator of Social Protection of the ILO office in Colombia. “The migratory phenomenon is different in each region of the country,” she said. “And therefore, we cannot only talk about the generation of a general public policy but rather we have to analyse how to adapt it to the specific needs of the regions.”

According to SP&PFM country project research, 80 per cent of migrants and refugees in Colombia experience deficiencies in terms of social protection. As Diego Rubio, ILO technical consultant, noted, “We find phenomena such as violence, abuse and coercion. There are also great needs in terms of socioeconomic integration and health management, which pose a significant challenge in the design and implementation of policies and strategies at the national and regional levels.”

The tour included the launch the Navigation Map of the Colombian Social Security System, which is an educational tool to facilitate the work of territorial officials when sharing information with the population related to the system. The SP&PFM country project is promoting the tool in partnership with the Ministry of Labour, the European Union and the World Food Programme within the campaign “Rights Also Migrate”. This is just the first item in a larger toolbox to strengthen the pedagogical work that the territorial offices do to increase affiliation of beneficiaries with the various social protection subsystems. “For the European Union, it is essential to protect the human rights of the Venezuelan population and ensure the socio-economic integration of migrants in countries such as Colombia. That is why it is key to strengthen the social protection system and its adaptation to the population that enters the country to increase their employability and welfare,” stated Manuel Fernández Quilez, European Union delegate in Colombia.

Through these activities, the ILO and the European Union hope to contribute towards strengthening the country’s social protection system so that Colombia can advance towards the goal of universal coverage that includes the Venezuelan migrant population and Colombian returnees.

Learn more about SP&PFM in Colombia here.