'Millions of internal migrants ill-treated'

Observing that millions of migrants in India cannot exercise their rights mainly because of apathy and ill treatment as second-class citizens, a Unesco-Unicef report has found seven backward northern and eastern states as having high levels of internal migration.

Identifying these states as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, the report, brought out on the occasion of International Migrants  Day, said, “the overlapping of poverty and internal migration is clearly reflected  with high poverty levels found in most  lead source states.”

Quoting the 2011 census, it said internal migration accounts for a massive 309 million, or nearly 30 per cent of the total population, of which 70.7 per cent were women.

“The constraints faced by migrants are many - lack of formal residency rights; lack of identity proof; lack of political representation; inadequate housing; low-paid, insecure or hazardous work; limited access to state-provided services such as health and education and discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, class or gender.” Internal migrants find themselves excluded from the economic, cultural, social and political lives of society and are often treated as second-class citizens, it added.

On the seven high-migration states, the report said some of the strategies that needed to be adopted to ensure a better inclusion of internal migrants in society include mainstreaming internal migration in a comprehensive manner in policy and national development plans. 

“Generating reliable data on all  facets of internal migration, particularly on short-term migration, developing portability of benefits in all government social protection schemes and public services, outlining gender-sensitive and age-sensitive policies and practices for migrants, developing a child-sensitive focus in data and approaches to migration and destination areas and increasing representation of migrants in decision-making processes are also required.”

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