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25 May 2017

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Dorothea Lange's “Migrant Mother,” taken in Nipomo, Calif., in March 1936, captured the despair of that era through the eyes of a 32-year-old mother who had just sold her car tires for food. (Dorothea Lange)

Dorothea Lange’s Iconic ‘Migrant Mother’ Resonates in Today’s Social Turmoil

Dorothea Lange was driving by a pea pickers’ camp on the California coast when she stumbled across a weary mother and her many children huddled in a lean-to.

It was 1936, during the throes of the Great Depression, and Lange took out her camera.

The image she titled “Migrant Mother” became the late photographer’s most famous work, capturing the dirt and despair of that era through the eyes of a 32-year-old woman who had just sold her car tires for food.

The photograph, digitally scanned and enlarged, is a dominant feature of a new exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California called “Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing.” The exhibit of 100 of Lange’s photographs includes Dust Bowl migrants, Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II, the homeless and post-war urban decline.

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Detained African migrants in Libya. Photo: IOM

If We Can Help Somalia, We Can Help Libya’s Migrants Too
By William Lacy Swing, UN Migration Agency (IOM) Director General

Looking out the window as I flew from Tunis to Tripoli in March, I thought about the first time I saw Libya from the air, flying south towards my first diplomatic posting in Africa in 1963. The Libyan people have seen much suffering since then: tyrannical dictatorship, violent uprising and ongoing insecurity.

Add to this that Libya has an extremely complex migration situation. This is clear when you are in the country. There are different migratory flows moving through and towards Libya, driven by underdevelopment, state fragility, marginalization and security threats in West Africa, East Africa and the Middle East. The migration situation is compounded by political insecurity and conflict in Libya, which is further exacerbating existing vulnerabilities of all affected communities in the country, including Libyans themselves. Fostering a stable environment to bring about a much-needed holistic approach to migration governance is now a priority.

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An average of 25.4 million people per year were displaced by disasters triggered by natural hazards between 2008-2015. Read IOM's flyer here.  To find out more about IOM's work in disaster risk reduction, please visit our website or our profile on PreventionWeb.

“i am a migrant” is part of the UN TOGETHER initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for those who have left home in search of a better life. More here

Sana: "I want to continue to be that bridge where migrants contribute to the development of their host and home countries."
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Find further information on the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, Mexico, here.


"Just as the world has been witnessing unprecedented movement, similarly there has been an increase in anti-migrant and xenophobic rhetoric. As such it is also crucial that we focus on eliminating discrimination, racism, xenophobia and highlight the contribution of migrants to societies." –  Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, Chief of Mission at IOM Ghana. Read more here.


Migration in the News

  • Reuters, Europe Online and ANSA Med reported that more than 30 migrants, mostly toddlers, drowned on Wednesday when about 200 people without life jackets fell from a boat into the sea off the Libyan coast before they could be hauled into waiting rescue boats.
  • ANSA Med reported on the Libyan ambassador to Italy, Ahmed Safar’s comments that halting migrant flows was ‘impossible’.
  • Xinhua reported that the complex nature of migration in the West African sub-region requires a holistic approach to derive benefits for the sub-region.

Trending on the Internet

  • CNN reported that Venezuelans are now the top asylum seekers in the US, ahead of citizens from China, Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.
  • The Guardian reported that a study by UN Environment and Columbia Law School found a “proliferation” of cases instigated by citizens and environmental groups demanding action on areas such as sea-level rise, coal-fired power plants and oil drilling.

Media Contacts
For interviews and other media requests, please contact the IOM Media and Communications team here.