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Interpreting Migrant Needs To Ease Integration

Migrant mother and child with foreheads pressed against each other, looking in each others eyes

Poverty, climate change, discrimination, globalization, and violence fuel migration. The world is home to over 280 million migrants, or 3.6 percent of the total global population. While COVID-19-related restrictions have impacted migration trends, migrant and refugee issues remain hugely important. 

Target 10.7 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposes communities “Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.”

While this target is logical, achieving it may be a challenge since accurately predicting the effects of migration is difficult, as the pandemic has clearly shown. 

According to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, “The majority of migrants around the world today travel, live and work in a safe, orderly and regular manner. Nonetheless, migration undeniably affects our countries, communities, migrants and their families in very different and sometimes unpredictable ways.” 

This compact takes a human-centered approach in advocating for the wellbeing of both the migrants and citizens in their countries of origin, transit, and destination. Governments have long relied on migration data to understand the flux and flow and make decisions accordingly. However, placing people at the center of decision-making demands a clear understanding of their needs. 


Critical Migrant Needs 

Migrants have diverse and multifaceted needs based on a variety of factors, including their backgrounds, destinations, and goals. The most pressing needs typically fall into three main categories: healthcare, housing, and employment.


Improving Access to Healthcare for Migrants

Migrants often face inadequate healthcare access. When coupled with the population’s increased vulnerability to poor living, housing, and working conditions, this can spell disaster for both the individuals themselves and the communities in which they live. 

Among the factors can contribute to inadequate healthcare: 

  • Limited access to health insurance 
  • Expensive out-of-pocket fees or copays
  • Inadequate language interpretation services 
  • Document requirements
  • Fear of repercussions due to immigration status
  • Limited availability of services

Depending on the community, any or all of these factors could play a role. Improving access to both physical and mental health screenings for migrants requires pinpointing and addressing obstacles that stand in the way. 

Governments have long relied on migration data to understand the flux and flow and make decisions accordingly. However, placing people at the center of decision-making demands a clear understanding of their needs.

Providing Adequate Housing for Migrants 

Having an adequate place to live is a cornerstone of basic human rights. To that end, the United Nations report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing states, “Regardless of their immigration status, all migrants must be afforded essential levels of protection with regard to their access to adequate housing and living conditions.”

The United Nation Human Settlement Programme incorporates the following dimensions in its definition of adequate housing: 

  • Security of tenure
  • Availability of services
  • Materials, facilities, and infrastructure 
  • Affordability 
  • Habitability 
  • Accessibility 
  • Location 
  • Cultural adequacy   

Unfortunately, migrant populations frequently struggle to find quality living conditions. Some governments impose legal and administrative restrictions on housing that prevent the full integration of migrants. Additionally, housing discrimination against migrants is all too common even when laws are in place to protect against it. 

To achieve housing objectives, states must take action to prevent unfair housing practices. Adopting a national housing strategy can help address disparities and work toward more equitable housing. However, developing effective policies requires including migrants in the decision-making process, which many leaders struggle to do effectively. 


Connecting Migrants With Quality Employment

Labor migrants and their families make up the majority of the total migrant population. Driven by income inequality, poverty, and lack of employment in their countries of origin, migrants generally go to more industrialized countries with higher demands for unskilled labor. 

While the economies of both the country of origin and the host country stand to benefit from migrant labor, the workers themselves often face inadequate protections, making them more susceptible to exploitation and trafficking. Salaries of migrants are also frequently lower. In some cases, migrants may need social support systems or vocational training to thrive.


Why Do Leaders Need Real-Time Insight on Migrant Needs?

Migration patterns change rapidly in response to current events, which may result in nations experiencing sudden population increases. If governments are slow to respond to their needs, migrants may struggle to adjust and achieve their full value to society. 

Traditional survey methods often take months to yield results, so migrants may suffer needlessly while the state fails to act. Leaders need faster information if they want to set migrants and their host communities up for success. 

Modern technology offers a tremendous opportunity to understand conversations in real time, thereby giving decision-makers the information they need to make better-informed decisions. AI with natural language processing capabilities can analyze huge volumes of opinions, concerns, and questions to offer instant insight into migrant needs. 



Citibeats leverages AI for social understanding by interpreting unstructured data in real time. We collect and analyze migration-related comments from social media, forums, blogs, and more to generate actionable insights months earlier than surveys and other traditional methods. Our platform also focus on other key issues, including gender equality, sustainability, vaccines, and more. 

Schedule a demo to learn how Citibeats can help you make better decisions faster.