Pakistan is one of the top 10 emigration countries in the world. Over 7.6 million Pakistanis have emigrated to other countries for employment. The pattern of emigration seems to be increasing each year with an increase, resulting in 3 million leaving Pakistan between 2010 and 2014, mainly for the Gulf countries. In addition, several thousand Pakistanis seek to go abroad through irregular means each year or become irregular during their stay abroad. They not only face several dangers during an irregular journey and risk to be returned back to Pakistan, they may also become vulnerable to different types of exploitation due to their irregular situation. Due to lack of knowledge and awareness in terms of opportunities available to them as a regular or irregular migrant in a foreign country, people often make poor choices.
To reduce the information gap on migration, two Migrant Resource Centres (MRCs) were established in Islamabad and Lahore in early 2016 with the combined efforts of the Government of Pakistan, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Currently being run by the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development and ICMPD in Islamabad; and the Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Department and ICMPD in Lahore, MRCs serve to increase the accessibility to general and definite information on migration to the people of Pakistan.
MRCs operate to provide migrants with information and counselling in various areas, such as overseas employment, rights and protection of migrants, access to education systems in other countries, skills development and vocational training programmes in Pakistan. More importantly, our team of counsellors provides you with awareness on the benefits of safe and regular migration and the dangers and consequences of irregular migration.
In essence, MRCs strive to provide:
- clear, accessible and understandable information to potential migrants on possibilities for orderly migration, as well as rules and regulations, including relevant pre-departure information;
- pre-departure orientation and information on work and living conditions abroad and their rights and obligations to outgoing migrants;
- awareness raising of and providing clear information to potential migrants on the risks and dangers associated with irregular migration.
MRCs do not only focus on the general public/future migrants but also other, institutionalised stakeholders (governmental and non-governmental), who are directly or indirectly involved in the facilitation or communication of migration related issues. Thus, MRCs conduct several information sessions at vocational and technical training schools, universities, colleges and schools as well as with the communities.