IOM Philippines believes that safe and orderly migration, driven by a migrant's genuine will and choice rather than by necessity, benefits both migrants themselves and the wider society. In line with this vision, IOM will assist the government to achieve the following: assist and protect the most vulnerable populations (including internally displaced persons and mobile populations) affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; advocating for and implementing urgent actions to combat the climate crisis, focusing on people and communities whose vulnerabilities are further exacerbated by the intensified effect of the climate change; emergency response that addresses the immediate needs of people affected by natural hazards and human-made disasters; improved capacity of governments and communities to effectively anticipate, respond to, and recover from mobility consequences of crisis; and strengthened partnerships to integrate mobility in resilience-building efforts.
Despite having one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns, the Philippines has the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia, with the total number of confirmed cases exceeding 451,839 as of 15 December 2020 (WHO). The mobility restrictions imposed in numerous parts of the country continue to impact the social and economic lives of the population. While the disease is spreading widely across the country, the southern region of Mindanao is seen as among the most vulnerable in the country. Societal fragmentation, recurrent conflicts and frequent disasters have long been driving instability in the region, and given the capacity of the nascent government of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) which is still in development, COVID-19 is posing a significant challenge to not only health but also stability and socio-economic development. Migrants, internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and their communities are particularly vulnerable. Furthermore, as the Philippines is the second-most affected country worldwide by weather-related events, the climate crisis and its increasingly dire consequences pose additionally complex and significant challenges. The effects of climate change, such as increasingly strong and more frequent typhoons, rising sea levels, and intensifying heatwaves among others, are disproportionately affecting populations with pre-existing vulnerabilities, and the country must invest in further preparedness and response measures and capacities. The effects of climate change on peoples' livelihoods, as well as overall peace and stability particularly in rural regions of the country will likely further drive increasing amounts of internal mobility, either in the form of forced migration or displacement, or adaptive migration where people go in search of spaces that are safer from the effects and consequences of climate change.