Asia and the Pacific

Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP)

IOM’s Regional Office in Bangkok, Thailand, oversees, plans, coordinates and supports IOM activities in the Asia-Pacific region and is responsible for project review and endorsement. It provides technical support to Country Offices; liaises with governments, development partners and civil society; and helps Member States to build their migration management capacity. It also assists in the areas of emergency response, disaster risk reduction and climate-induced migration.

ROAP thematic specialists work in the areas of: Emergency and Post Crisis; Migrant Protection and Assistance; Immigration and Border Management; Migration Health; Labor Migration and Human Development; and Migration, Environment and Climate Change.

Other specialists work in the fields of Regional Policy and Liaison; Media and Communications; Programme Support; Project Development, Resource Management and Field Security.

The office works closely with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

It also supports regional migration management initiatives including the Colombo Process on Overseas Employment; the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime; and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Key Migration Facts in Asia Pacific

The region is diverse, vast and complex. It consists of the world’s largest landmass and is home to over 4.30 billion people (nearly 60 per cent of the world’s population).

Of the world’s estimated 258 million international migrants, an estimated 40 million live in the Asia and Pacific region and 77.2 million people born in the region are outside of their countries of origin (UNDESA).

Seventeen of the world’s 31 ‘mega-cities’ are located in the region, with mobility contributing to rapid urbanization. Remittances received in the region were USD 233 billion in 2016 and USD 247 billion in 2017, according to the World Bank. Seven of the world’s top ten remittance receiving countries are in the region.  

With migration taking place not only from the global north, but also south to south, the Asia Pacific region has some of the world’s largest migration corridors. The migration drivers range from income inequality and demography to conflict and the environmental impact of climate change. Regional connectivity and regional integration is also contributing to greater mobility. Temporary, circular and irregular migration is widespread in the region, with almost half of the migrants being women. Migrants are predominantly semi and low-skilled workers in informal sectors looking for work.

There are complex mixed migration flows, including asylum seekers, stateless persons and people displaced by conflict, natural disasters or environmental change.

Given the region’s long and porous land and sea borders, there is also significant intra – and extra – regional irregular migration.  While most irregular flows occur between neighbouring countries, irregular migration routes are also known to extend much further, over land and by sea, to connect non-contiguous states.

IOM estimates that 62 per cent of people living in situations of modern slavery are in the region, working in sectors including the sex industry, agriculture, construction, fishing and hospitality. Thirty-two per cent of the trafficking victims assisted by IOM worldwide are in Asia Pacific countries (More info).

The region is also particularly prone to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change, which particularly affect islands and urban centres in coastal and low-lying areas.  Annually 80 per cent of sudden onset natural disaster-induced displacement worldwide occurs in this region. This includes displacement caused by earthquakes, typhoons, flooding and volcanic eruptions (IDMC).

Regional Strategy 2017-2020

 The Regional Strategy presents IOM’s overall strategic framework focusing on the key migration priorities for the Asia and the Pacific in 2017-2020. It aims to:

  • Improve the protection of and assistance to migrants in need. 
  • Reduce health vulnerability among migrants and migration affected communities. 
  • Strengthen systems and tailored solutions that harness the benefits of migration. 
  • Build capacity to manage migration crises and the resilience to cope with natural disasters including   adaptation to climate change. 
  • Develop policies and programmes based on evidence, systematic monitoring and analysis of migration dynamics. 
  • Develop partnerships and dialogues to address migration challenges and opportunities.

IOM works to support migrants, host communities and governments, while collaborating with regional and multilateral partners, key UN counterparts, civil society, the private sector, and academic and research institutions.  

Given the vast nature of the Asia and the Pacific region and its mobility landscape, the Regional Strategy consists of multiple sub-regional strategies, covering the Pacific, Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia and Southwest Asia and cross-cutting Thematic Priorities between the five sub-regions.

Migration Policy: To strengthen global governance of migration in line with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration including implementation and review processes.

Emergency and Post Crisis: To address the drivers and consequences of forced migration, during preparedness, response, recovery and transition (to stability) phases.

Migrant Protection and Assistance: To contribute to the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations, including victims of human trafficking and associated forms of exploitation and abuse, unaccompanied and separated migrant children, and migrants in detention.

Migration Health: To provide health assessments to facilitate migration; to offer health assistance to migrants, particularly those affected by crises; and to promote migrant health, including universal access to healthcare.

Labour Migration and Human Development: To work with the private sector to protect migrant workers throughout the labour migration cycle, building the capacity of governments to improve labour migration governance at all levels, including the mainstreaming of migration into national and sub-national policies. 

Immigration and Border Management: To promote the development of migration policies and the capacity of States’ to respond to migratory challenges by building the capacity of relevant border agencies, enhancing data collection and analysis, and facilitating information sharing.

Migration, Environment and Climate Change: To address the migration, environment and climate change nexus, supporting policy development and forging partnerships at the regional and national level with UN agencies, inter-governmental organizations, and academic institutions. 

The Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) takes the lead on such cross-cutting priorities, and coordinates monitoring and evaluation across the region.

Sustainable Development Goals and IOM

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 

IOM Operations in Asia and the Pacific

IOM in Asia and the Pacific has ongoing activities in 40 countries, including 34 Member states and 2 Observer States. The Asia and Pacific Region is divided in five sub-regions: the Pacific, Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia and Southwest Asia

Member States and Observers

Pacific Southeast Asia East Asia South Asia Southwest Asia
  • Australia
  • Cook Islands
  • Fiji
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Nauru
  • New Zealand
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu
  • Cambodia
  • Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Thailand
  • Timor-Leste
  • Viet Nam
  • Indonesia (observer)
  • People’s Republic of China
  • Japan
  • Mongolia
  • Republic of Korea
  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Sri Lanka
  • Bhutan (observer)
  • Afghanistan
  • Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Pakistan