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30 November 2018

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IOM concludes its 109th Council Session in Geneva today, 30 November 2018. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

UN Migration Agency Concludes 109th Council Session

Geneva – IOM Director General António Vitorino this week (27-30/11) addressed a gathering of the Organization’s 173 member states and welcomed IOM’s newest member – Uzbekistan – while presiding over a range of panels and programmes at his first IOM Council Session since assuming his position at the beginning of October.

“Size alone does not determine the strength of an organization,” DG Vitorino explained in his welcoming remarks to the Council. “It is the commitment and skills of its staff that has enabled IOM to respond to complex emergencies, to provide advice to governments on diverse issues, and to thereby help to foster greater space for common ground.”

He spoke on the upcoming programme in Marrakesh, Morocco, where IOM states will discuss adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

“The process of negotiating the Global Compact has been a milestone for States, coming together to find compromise on an issue that divides more frequently than it unites,” IOM’s Director General said, emphasizing the Global Compact “will be a guiding influence on those States that have chosen to endorse it as a voluntary, non-legally binding platform for cooperation.”

Venezuela, Yemen and the Rohingya emergency impacting Myanmar and its neighbour, Bangladesh, were each addressed during the four-day session.

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Those requesting to go home are screened by IOM prior to making any decision to return. Photo: IOM/Alexis Moreno

Migrants from the Caravans Receive IOM Support to Return to Their Countries

San José – Since 4 November 2018, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) has facilitated the voluntary and safe return of hundreds of Central Americans who were part of the caravans of migrants traveling US-bound through Mexican territory.

As of Wednesday (28/11), 453 migrants (84% men) who were part of the caravans requested and obtained IOM support to return to their countries of origin or residence: Honduras (57%), El Salvador (38%) and Guatemala (5%). Twenty-five unaccompanied migrant children returned by plane. 

Information and registration booths have been opened in Tecún Umán (Guatemala), Tapachula, Mexico City, and Tijuana (México). Over 300 Central American migrants have expressed their interest in returning from Tijuana, and IOM is coordinating safe and dignified means of transport for them. Migrants wishing to return are counselled and screened by IOM to evaluate their options prior to making the decision to return. 

As part of this programme, funded by the US State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), IOM also coordinates with the governments of all involved countries for the regular and safe return of the migrants.

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An IOM nurse draws blood at the IOM Migration Health Assessment Centre in Manila, Philippines. Photo: IOM

Live Life Positively: Let Migrants Know Their HIV Status

Switzerland – On this World AIDS Day, 2018, the UN Migration Agency, reflects on how accessible HIV testing is for migrant populations. Migration does not equal HIV vulnerability, and not all migrants are at increased risk for HIV.  However, in many contexts migrants are exposed to a unique set of socio-cultural, economic and environmental factors that make them more vulnerable to HIV.  For example, they may be at high risk of HIV infection as they often face marginalization and exclusion, and various barriers to accessing health promotion and care.

As mentioned in the 2018 UNAIDS Report, Knowledge is Power, “Migrants have specific legal and administrative impediments to accessing HIV testing and other services (particularly where they are undocumented and, as a result, are not entitled to health care), and they face cultural and linguistic barriers, racism and xenophobia that serve to restrict access. They also have a higher frequency of delayed HIV diagnosis than people among the general population.”

Around the world, IOM works with governments and national/international partners to deliver programmes that adopt a rights-based approach to decrease HIV vulnerability and risk among migrants by ensuring equal access to HIV prevention, care, treatment and support, and countering misinformation and stigmatization surrounding migration and HIV. For instance, as a component of IOM’s pre-departure health assessment programmes, IOM offers counselling and testing for HIV for refugees and migrants traveling to over 15 host countries. In 2018 to date, IOM provided over 70,000 voluntary HIV tests, including pre- and post-test counselling, in more than 50 IOM operations worldwide. Where necessary, IOM provides referrals for follow-up care to local or national health systems.

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  • World Meteorological Organization published a new report on accelerated climate change with contributions on the impact on migration from IOM.

  • Egypt Today reported that the Global Migration Film Festival in Egypt opened in Cairo on 28/11 at the Swiss Office for International Cooperation.

  • The Guardian reported on how a video of a 15-year-old Syrian refugee being physically harassed went viral, drawing outrage but also support from public figures.

  • The Government of Mauritius reported on the launch of a project entitled ‘Building Capacity to Strengthening Linkages with the Mauritian Diaspora’ and supported by the IOM Development Fund.

  • The New York Times published an op-ed which suggested concrete steps that the US government could take to better respond to the migrant caravan.

  • The Hill ran an op-ed which noted that we must recognize the Central American migrant caravan as a by-product of climate change and an early preview of humanitarian crises to come.

  • The Conversation featured the story of a Bangladeshi woman who shared her experiences with both climate change and migration, including losing her home and being forced to find a new source of family income.

  • Dev Policy reported that as of 2017, Nepal has the fifth highest ratio of remittances to GDP in the world—behind Hatit, Tajikstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Tonga. Money received represents about one-third of Nepal’s annual GDP, nearly tripling in 15 years the 12.2% of GDP rate recorded in 2003.