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Regional Workshop on Mobility

A Regional Level Workshop with representation of high level government officials, renowned NGOs, experts & relevant stakeholders, from Bangladesh, India and Nepal titled-‘ Mainstreaming Concerns on HIV and Cross Border Mobility ‘Understanding Vulnerabilities. Assessing Gaps’ to disseminate findings of Research Study on Cross Border Mobility Across Nepal & India, including associated vulnerability towards HIV arising out of cross border mobility, was organized by EMPHASIS, a Project under CARE at Hotel Himalaya, Kathmandu on 31st January 2012.

The EMPHASIS (Enhancing Mobile Populations Access to HIV& AIDS Services Information and Support) Project is led by CARE, an international non-government organization which is also working in Nepal for the last 25 years. EMPHASIS is a five year (August 2009- July 2014) multi-country project supported by Big Lottery Fund (BIG), U.K. across India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The project is implemented in three country locations- Bangladesh, India and Nepal through respective CARE Country Offices. EMPHASIS is being implemented at two source districts (Achham & Kanchanpur) in far Western Nepal, from where sizeable population migrate to India seeking seasonal or annual employment. In India EMPHASIS interventions reach out to migrant workers from Nepal at two major transit locations on India-Nepal border in Uttrakhand & Uttar Pradesh in India and in two major urban industrial cities- Delhi and Mumbai respectively. EMPHASIS project is designed specifically to address migration related vulnerabilities, using the HIV lens and has a specific gender focus, reaching out to the cross border mobile population (CBMP) particularly in terms of awareness, access, treatment, care and support on STI and HIV related services.

Supported by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), U.K., EMPHASIS has conducted baseline research study between November 2010 and March 2011 to understand what drives mobility, access to services for migrants at source and destination, and the risks and vulnerabilities associated with migration and HIV and AIDS. Nepali migrant workers were interviewed in Delhi & Mumbai in India and Kanchanpur & Achham in Nepal respectively. There has been a steady flow of people from Nepal to India in recent decades in search of better work and livelihood opportunities, mostly as unskilled permanent or seasonal labourers. With well over an estimated one million (Govt. of Nepal, 2004) mobile population working across India, the baseline study sought reflection on vital issues related to diverse subjects as highlighted above in order to provide genuine evidence based understanding on life, vulnerabilities and challenges before the cross border population at source and destination.

The studies revealed that though mobility itself is not considered a vulnerability factor for HIV infection, the unsafe conditions under which many people migrate expose them to risks of infection. The migrant moving to a new environment face language barriers, risky and dangerous work and housing conditions, discrimination violence and harassment at work & in community, and are unable or unwilling to access health and social services.

Distinguished Guests Present:

  • Mr. Hari Sripali, Member, Constituent Assembly, Nepal
  • Ms. Krishna, Member, Constituent Assembly, Nepal
  • Dr. Subash Chandra Ghosh, National Programme Officer, National AIDS Control Organization, Govt. of India
  • Dr. Saidur Rehman, Deputy Programme Manager, NSP, Ministry of Health, Bangladesh
  • Ms. Marleen Marrow, UNAIDS, Nepal

Other distinguished guests & panellists from Bangladesh, India and Nepal joined the workshop and gave their opinion on the need to address HIV/ AIDS vulnerability and other forms of violence, deprivation and discrimination faced by the mobile community in Nepal and India. The research study by CARE and discussions during the workshop revealed the immediate need to address the problems of the mobile community in Nepal & India through a cooperative mechanism between the two countries at government and other levels. Representative from National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), Ministry of health, Government of India expressed that NACO is willing to address the issues of HIV vulnerability and access to services for migrants from Nepal in India if data is shared on the migration pattern, vulnerability and destinations with NACO. Discussions and particularly sharing of experiences of migrants from Nepal showed the need to understood mobility process at both source & destination and a coordinated package involving various government ministries like Health, Home, external Affairs etc emerged as the key recommendation from the workshop.

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