A recent report by the New York Times observes that, as global migration has increased, so has the importance and influence of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an intergovernmental organization focusing on migration-related issues. IOM, founded in 1951 and comprised of 132 member countries (89 of which joined in the past 20 years), assists governments and individuals. For example, IOM has helped recruit meatpackers for Canada, assisted the U.K. government screen would-be migrants for tuberculosis, and installed microscopes in Bangladesh’s airports to detect passport fraud. Assistance for individuals has included aiding migrants’ repatriation during armed conflicts, and staging folk dramas to warn against sex trafficking.
The Times observes that IOM’s influence varies by location, noting that “[t]he United States and other rich donors largely dictate [IOM’s] agenda and ensure that it does not erode their power to decide which migrants they admit and how many.” In nations whose labor needs are satisfied via migrant workforces, and in nations that supply migrant workers, IOM plays a heightened role in guiding policy and educating and assisting workers. Although some of IOM’s actions have been criticized by policy groups and government officials, with a $1.4 billion budget, it appears that the group, originally established to resettle Europeans displaced by World War II, will remain an active participant in global migration affairs.
Photo credit: Vasare