Migration Video story

Going mobile

In Argentina, mobile humanitarian service points not only bring critical services such as first aid, water, food and warm clothes. They bring a feeling of safety and trust, which are critical for helping people on the move.

In the city of la Quiaca, only a few kilometers from Argentina’s northern border with Bolivia, Delfina Aragon explains how a mobile Argentine Red Cross “humanitarian service point” provide assistance to migrants and asylum seekers.

“We provide safe drinking water, contribute to their food security through the delivery of food supplies,” she says. “We have hygiene kits, and supplies to help babies. We also offer warm clothes, because it is important to know that many times, migrants face changing geographical and climatic conditions that can be very hostile”.

“We also provide Restoring Family Links services, in which we help people get in touch with their family members back home. And mobile charging stations, where people can charge the batteries of their mobile phones so they can stay in touch with their families.”

The list of services is impressive. But the service point also offers something equally important, but which is harder to see with the naked eye. It offers a safe space, a place where migrants trust, and can feel that their concerns can be heard.

“We welcome migrants in a neutral and trustworthy space to provide basic services for women and girls, migrants and refugees,” she says. “Trust is fundamental. For me it is the basis of all humanitarian action,especially when we work with groups that are ina situation of vulnerability.

“If these people can approach our teams, and if our teams can approach them, that’s the only way that we will be able to effectively support them and that we’ll be able to guide them through different processes for migrants and refugees.”

“Trust is fundamental. For me it is the basis of all humanitarian action, especially when we work with groups that are in a situation of vulnerability”.
Delfina Aragon, Argentine Red Cross

1- In the city of La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Red Cross and partner organisations help Venezuelan migrants through Restoring Family Links (RFL). Laura Grattarola, RFL focal point, smiles as she listens to the joy of a migrant talking to a loved one on the other end of the phone. | Photo: Argentine Red Cross

2- Agustin Szewiel, a dedicated volunteer of the La Plata branch, helps empower migrant children by teaching them CPR. | Photo: Argentine Red Cross

Why might migrants distrust humanitarian groups or organisations? “It has to do, for example, with previous experiences. If in some cases they’ve had negative experiences with humanitarian organisations in a particular country or in different cities, that can influence the perspective this person has towards the rest of the humanitarian organisations. And this will influence if that person comes forward to ask for assistance or not. That’s why it is crucial that the organisations and the teams on the ground promote actions that contribute to trust.”

“Humanitarian service points, for me, are key tools for building trust, because the main objective is precisely to create spaces along the migration route, spaces of welcome and trust. They are neutral spaces where people find relief and support.”

In the video above, Delfina reflects on issues of trust as she shares with us a traditional Argentinian mate tea. Mate is a perfect metaphor she says, because it provides comfort, offers a chance for reflection, sharing and building bonds of conversation and listening.

“Just the other day I was reading a poem in which the author said that mate indeed is a beverage, but people don’t just drink it because they are thirsty. The mate is a moment of self-reflection, it’s a moment of concentration, a moment also of being in the moment. Sharing a mate is a synonym for generosity, for solidarity, or an encounter.”

For more information about the importance of trust in the context of migration, check out this link to this report (Migrants’ Perspectives: Building trust in humanitarian action) from the Global Migration Lab, a project of the IFRC and ICRC.

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