New partnership initiative to provide economic empowerment support and capacity development for Indonesian migrant workers households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

Source, internal IOM

Jakarta, 23 February 2022 - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) convened an online kick-off meeting for a new partnership initiative to provide economic empowerment support and capacity development for Indonesian migrant worker households impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

IOM, Semut Nusantara and Serikat Buruh Migran Indonesia (SBMI) joined hand in a partnership program called PIJAR (Economic Empowerment of Indonesian Migrant Workers). The 12-months program aims to promote sustainability and to further complement existing government-run economic empowerment programmes by providing a range of skills and opportunities from training and business start-up, as well as direct economic empowerment support for the most vulnerable Indonesian migrant workers in Central Java, East Nusa Tenggara, West Java, and West Nusa Tenggara.

"Indonesian migrant workers are the second largest contributor to the country’s foreign exchange after the oil and gas sector, and even compared to the tourism sector. Acknowledging this, the President has mandated all relevant agencies to provide end-to-end protection to the Indonesian migrant workers. In response to this, we at the BP2MI has shifted our paradigm as we are the service provider to Indonesian migrant workers and their families, who are entitled to respectable treatment by the State,” stated Lismia Elita, the Director of Protection and Empowerment of the Asia-Africa Region, BP2MI.

The government’s data shows that at least 250,000 Indonesians have returned to Indonesia since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020, and the majority of them are Indonesian migrant workers. They returned for various reasons, including ending contracts, sudden termination, and deportation from destination countries. IOM’s survey from October to December 2020 found that 71% of migrant worker returnees were severely affected by the impacts of COVID-19. The vulnerabilities of migrant workers consist of 72% unemployed post-return, 91% received no assistance post-return, 34% experienced 60%+ drop in household income, 22% returned without their full wages, and 18% remain indebted from their migration journeys. Amongst this, women migrant workers have disproportionately suffered the highest from socio-economic consequences, with unemployment upon return reached at 83% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his remarks, Rendra Setiawan, the Director of Placement of Protection for Indonesian Migrant Workers, Ministry of Manpower stated that throughout the pandemic, the health of migrant worker returnees is the first and foremost priority, and continuous coordination is undertaken together with the Ministry of Health to prevent the wider spread of COVID-19 in the community. He also added, “the government provides specific economic empowerment programmes for returning migrant workers and their families, aiming to support and encourage them to be financially independent, one of them is through entrepreneurship, and thereby they do not have to (forcibly) re-migrate.”

The current unprecedented disruption of the pandemic has shown how social dialogue can mitigate the impact of a crisis on the economy and help shape solutions. The coordination meeting provides a venue to gather insights and feedback from the key stakeholders, from the national ministries and agencies to provincial government offices and agencies, as well as non-government organizations. At the meeting, the participants shared the economic empowerment programme currently available, as well as the challenges faced in implementation and ensuring the sustainability of such programmes. One of the key takeaways which IOM hopes to contribute addressing through PIJAR Indonesia is to strengthen the collaboration and partnerships among government and non-government stakeholders as to afford an effective synergy on the economic empowerment programmes for migrant workers and their households.

PIJAR Indonesia is supported through IOM’s COVID-19 response and recovery programme funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), called the “Empowering Migrant Worker Households and Strengthening Capacities at Points of Entry in Indonesia,”, or in short, the PMPMI Programme. The generous contribution is provided with the aim of assisting vulnerable communities of Indonesian migrant workers to build resilience and help mitigate the impact of the loss of livelihood due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


For more information, please contact: 

Pya Ayunindya  

National Project Officer, Counter-Trafficking & Labour Migration Unit, IOM  


For interview requests, please contact: 

Ariani Hasanah Soejoeti 

Media and Communication Officer, IOM 





SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 5 - Gender Equality
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals