CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / N. Kero
Foreigners are a specific sub-category of civilian protected by international humanitarian law during armed conflict, which is how we started to work with migrants. Through our visits to places of detention, we also visit migrants, some of whom are held in the same facilities as people detained in connection with criminal offences, while others are in separate facilities.
As we do for all detainees, we strive to ensure that they are afforded due process of law, held in decent conditions, treated humanely, and able to maintain contact with the outside world. The latter is especially important in the case of migrants who might not otherwise be able to contact their families or consular authorities. The ICRC also makes sure that the authorities are aware of their obligations under international law – in particular the requirement that they abide by the principle of "non-refoulement."
In addition to this work, we encourage authorities to only use detention as a last resort and in particular to make use of alternatives to detention for especially vulnerable groups.
We also have the lead role within the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement on protection, detention and restoring family links. We therefore support National Societies working in the field of detained migrants, by providing expertise and financial assistance.