Migration Video story

‘I was afraid’

Migrants often have a lot to be afraid of as they struggle to get by in new surroundings: Arrest. Deportation. Violence. Theft. But building and maintaining trust is possible, say experts. They share their advice in this short, selfie-style video.

In the town of Musina, along South Africa’s northern border with Zimbabwe, Marrieth Ndlela talks to a young man who traveled more than 1,000 kilometers to get a fresh start in a new country.  

I remember the first month I arrived here,” says Amman, a music and math teacher who left the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to instability and violence.I was afraid. You know, when you when you arrive in a country, you don’t know anyone. 

Amman had heard stories about the city he was travelling to, Pretoria, the country’s administrative capital, located in the northeast. “I was afraid about the life here, about how people were talking about South Africa, especially in Pretoria. There are thieves, you know, who can kill you anytime. 

But he also has other fears that are common to most migrants, Ndlela explains. “Most migrants are worried about what might happen to them, because most of them do not have documents. So most of them, they are worried of being deported to their country of origin. 

This is why trust is so important when offering services to migrants, says Ndlela, who works with other volunteers to help migrants stay in touch with family and to offer screening for infectious diseases.  

“As volunteers, we build the relationship with migrants,” she says, adding that volunteers go regularly to places where the migrants feel safe and comfortable,so that they get to be used to us.” 

We also do dissemination, telling them about who we are and what we do, and about our seven Fundamental Principles. And we ensure them that their personal information will not be shared with other with any other authorities or law enforcement, or anyone outside the Red Cross. 
Marrieth Ndlela

“We also do dissemination, telling them about who we are and what we do, and about our seven Fundamental Principles. And we ensure them that their personal information will not be shared with other with any other authorities or law enforcement, or anyone outside the Red Cross. 

Trust is important because if trust is lost, it will have very negative effects for the migrants themselves, adds Maazou Oumarou is a migration expert for the IFRC in Niamey, Niger. If something diminishes the credibility of the humanitarian servicesthat will worsen the migrants’ vulnerability because it will limit their access to services. 

Oumarou was one of many experts around the world who contributed to a global study called Migrants Perspectives: Building Trust in Humanitarian Action. He interviewed dozens of migrants from various parts of Africa to understand how they see the issue of trust and humanitarian services. See what he and other National Society volunteers say about maintaining trust with migrants by watching this video and checking out the report.   

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