Support to Migration Management Policies and Institutions


Supported by the European Union, the ICHD, in partnership with the British Council and Migration Agency of Armenia, have considerably contributed into enhancing policy and institutional frameworks of migration management in Armenia. The partners implemented the “Support to migration policy development and relevant capacity building in Armenia” project anchored at three-pillar strategy aiming at policy dialogue, public awareness and reintegration assistance to returnees.

It is not a secret, that the interagency coordination and cooperation have been quite weak in this area for many years. The departmental interests, sometimes contradicting, used to prevail, while clear and sound national policy on migration management have been lacking in Armenia. This was quite tangible obstacle for the partners’ efforts in the early stage of the project. Thus, the first challenge the partners have faced was the creation of a constructive and efficient environment for a policy dialogue. Such an environment was the sine qua non for the initiation of a dialogue for a policy change on migration management. One of the major sustainable achievements of the partners was the transformation of the policy debate among the institutions involved in migration management into a policy dialogue. The partners achieved this through creating a room for continuous policy dialogue, in which the departmental interests became mutually complementing and the policy makers became collaborative.

The immediate benefit of this environment the partners and stakeholders enjoyed during the elaboration of the key national policy document in the area of migration management – the Concept of the Strategy of the Republic of Armenia on State Regulation of Migration for 2101-2014. The Concept has been drafted by the efforts of ICHD’s lead experts and reviewed by the stakeholders. The document has been fine tuned during the number of discussions with the key institutions in government, civil society, private sector and development partners. The ICHD team has shaped and agreed the principles of the national policy on migration management in-line with the international standards of the human rights and the key national strategies and policies. The mid-term goal of the national policy has been defined with the vision of Armenia’s integration to the European Community. The specific objectives, tools and institutional reforms have been also outlined considering the European path of the country. The ICHD team, first time ever, provided a comprehensive assessment of the migration processes in Armenia in the past decades, consolidated the key results of government’s policies in this area, as well as exposed the overall context of Armenia’s commitments in the area of migration management. The ICHD experts have provided recommendations for institutional reforms inline with the policy framework, as well as outlined the key objectives and activities on improving the information management in the area of migration management. In the policy document the ICHD experts in practical details have tackled the policy challenges, objectives and activities in the mid-term perspective for each sector in the area of migration management including regulatory and institutional frameworks. The ICHD has handled the final draft policy document to the Interagency Work Group chaired by the Secretary to the Security Council of Armenia in late 2009. The Work Group from now on leads the policy and institutional change in migration management area.

In the process of promoting policy dialogue and shaping the national agenda for policy change and institutional reforms the ICHD team has extensively used its key policy instruments, off the record (OTR) meetings with policy makers and policy briefs reaching the heart of Armenia’s leadership. The ICHD have organized twelve OTR meetings and issued about 20 policy briefs on various aspects of the migration management in Armenia in 2007-2009.

Through the project ICHD and its partners achieved a major institutional change in the area of migration management. In late 2009 a specialized State Migration Service has been created within the framework of the Ministry of Territorial Administration with extended mandate and functions in this area.

Along with assisting the government and other stakeholders in policy formulation, the ICHD team has created a new facility, which is providing reintegration assistance to Armenian returnees. When the project started there was significant lack of awareness among migrants regarding several key aspects of their possible return. Armenian migrants were quite uncertain about the regulations and procedures on provision, change and registration of documents, opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship, social security and pension rights, health and education services, as well as on military service. The opportunities and resources for providing information to migrants have been limited to face-to-face contacts in public agencies considering that applicant have returned to Armenia, or assistance desks in Armenia’s consulates and embassies abroad.

The ICHD’s idea was to create a facility within the Migration Agency (MA) of the Ministry of Territorial Administration of Armenia, which would interactively provide “all-inclusive” information to Armenian migrants world-wide through a special web portal and a telephone “hot-line”. The facility is run by five specialists from the MA staff, who received special training on operating a “hot-line” and the internet portal. This method has been selected, as the most effective way to reach out Armenian migrants abroad, people who are away from their home country. ICHD have designed a trilingual web portal to provide useful returnee-related information to migrants, as well as to offer personalized service, allowing users to come up with specific, non-frequently asked questions to the state agencies though the portal. The "Back to Armenia" portal won a Grand Prize in the "Third All-Armenian Contest on E-Contents" and the prize for Best E-Governance site.

Through establishing and operating this innovative institution, as a communication channel between the state institutions and the citizenry, ICHD and its partners have substantially extended and improved the quality of public services provided to Armenian migrants abroad. Based on the feedback provided by the migrants - users of the reintegration assistance facility, it is now clear that this ICHD initiative has been helpful in building confidence and trust towards the public institutions among migrants. Indeed, the facility served migrants who felt that their needs were heard and responded and their rights are exercised, while the duty bearer recognized that its services are demanded and appreciated. The facility has been also instrumental in consolidating interagency cooperation in providing services to migrants. Eventually, the ICHD approach has created a sustainable capacity within the Armenian government for providing services to extensive migrant population: the facility operations are funded from the state budget beyond the project. While creating the returnee assistance web portal a number of innovative e-technological solutions have been developed and introduced first ever, including the Armenian and Russian text entering layouts without any software installation required.

With this project ICHD and its partners have also increased awareness of Armenians on the process and various issues of migration through media campaign, in particular on issues of irregular migration and its consequences, as well as on opportunities for return and living abroad. Yet, it is more important that the partners have developed and introduced new approaches to targeting this specific audience: migrants living abroad, their families living in Armenia, as well as people who can be involved in irregular migration cycle. Both direct and indirect methods have been used while the format of short documentaries and TV debates has been chosen. In eleven 20-25-minutes documentaries prepared in Armenia, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France the ICHD authors exposed the achievements and problems, hardships and emotions, intentions and choices of migrants-real people, spelling out human stories and the lessons to be drawn from their drama. From the construction facility to the refugee camps, from a year-home-away migrant to the young people born and educated in migrant families for seventeen years, from routine to survival issues; the documentaries of the series “Back to Home” opened a space for thinking about costs and benefits of migration and making choices again and again for the people in Armenia. The ICHD’s success in this endeavor opens the floor for new approach to addressing development issues in the format of short documentaries.

The 12 talk shows and TV debates that ICHD and partners prepared and broadcasted in cooperation with media producers and outlets in Yerevan and in the regions have exposed to general public the collision of approaches and attitudes of experts, policy makers and migrants on three “P”’s of migration issues: policies, procedures and problems.

The ICHD have built a strong partnership through this project. Without the joint endeavor, support and contribution of the government, civil society and private sector, and eventually the project beneficiaries – migrants and their families themselves, the project would not achieve a fiver of its objectives. The Ministry of Territorial Administration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Police, National Security Service, Ministry of Diaspora, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Ministry of Defense, the Military Police, Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Healthcare, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, as well as Armenia’s diplomatic missions in EU countries became supporters of and participants in the project. The local civil society organizations including CRRC, “Alpha plus”, “People in need”,  actively participated in project activities. The development partners: EC delegation, IOM, OSCE, ILO, CoE, UNDP have significantly contributed towards the achievement of shared objectives of the project. Diplomatic missions of EU member countries in Armenia have also provided hands on support and assistance to ICHD team.




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