Home Migrants’ trust in humanitarian action: Local lessons, global insights

Humanitarian action is built on trust. Without it, humanitarian organisations cannot reach or respond to the needs of the most vulnerable, including many migrants. Yet, little is known about who migrants trust and why, as well as how this affects migrants’ ability and willingness to seek and access humanitarian assistance and protection.

This paper by Dr Magdalena Arias Cubas, Nicole Hoagland and Sanushka Mudaliar explores the findings of a large multi-sited research project conducted by the Red Cross Red Crescent Global Migration Lab across 15 countries to gather insights into migrants’ perceptions of, and trust in, humanitarian action.

The rationale for their research has been that humanitarian organisations can better build (and, where necessary, repair) trust with migrants by listening and responding to their thoughts, fears, doubts, and concerns about their situations and the assistance and protection they receive.

In this paper, the authors draw attention to three key lessons: first, the importance of increasing knowledge and awareness of humanitarian organisations and the services they provide; second, the importance of upholding the humanitarian principle of independence in migration programming; and third, the critical role that frontline staff and volunteers play in building and maintaining migrants’ trust.

Photo credit: Venezuelan migrants try to get a lift along the highway in Lambayeque, Peru. © Hanz Penge

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