News & Events


IOM UK, working together with the British Red Cross, supports the reunification of refugees in the UK with family members that have become separated, usually as a result of conflict and displacement. This week marked the arrival of 1,000 separated family members to the UK to be reunited with loved ones. The service is a vital lifeline for many individuals who have lost the support network of a family because of their displacement, many of whom have not seen their close relatives for numerous years. Under UK and international law, refugees have a legal right to be reunited with their families who are abroad.

“Helping families come together is a core component of IOM’s work globally, and we are proud to offer our support, alongside the British Red Cross. Refugee family reunion is about rights and protecting lives as often the people left behind are vulnerable women and children. In addition, having your family together is a critical step forward in the integration process – and with families together, entire communities can thrive”, reflects IOM UK Chief of Mission, Dipti Pardeshi.

From 2011 to 2013, 818 individuals arrived in the UK through the family reunification project. In 2015 alone, 1,000 individuals were brought back together with their relatives in the UK.

As part of the wider service, the Family Reunion Travel Assistance (FRTA) Programme allows eligible applicants who are not able to afford the travel costs to be joined with their family members with the provision of financial assistance. The British Red Cross assists individuals in covering the costs and IOM then provides end-to-end support in all travel logistics to bring the family members together.

Karl Pike, Refugee Policy and Advocacy Manager at the British Red Cross said: “The arrival of our 1,000th family member through this service marks a really positive milestone in the scheme. While this is a number to be celebrated, we are aware that there are many more people in need of our help. That’s why we are calling on the government to widen the criteria of those who can apply”.

Currently people with refugee and protection status in the UK can bring their spouses and children under-18 years old to join them. We believe this should be broadened to include older siblings and other, vulnerable, family members.

One of the latest families to be reunited is from Sudan. Safia gained refugee status in the UK, but sadly her husband and children had become separated as a result of their displacement. Through the family reunion service, Safia and was able to be reunited with husband and sons (pictured left upon arrival at Heathrow Airport), who had been living in Uganda and Sudan.

By William Lacy Swing, Director General, IOM

We have seen some dark days in our world this year. In 2015 we have seen acts of sickening violence, the fury of nature, and – perhaps most poignant of all – the corpse of a Syrian baby boy, Aylan Kurdi, face-down on a Mediterranean beach. But while the world is full of darkness, it is not surprising that so many cultures have created festivals of light. Hindus recently celebrated Diwali, and last month was Loy Krathong in Southeast Asia, where candles were set afloat to give thanks. Soon it will be the holiday season for much of the Western world. Lights are already twinkling almost everywhere, from Central Park to Bondi Beach. In Ireland, a nation which fled poverty, war and famine, there is a tradition of placing a candle in the window during the holiday season, to remember the emigrants who now live far away. Now it should perhaps remind us of the thousands of families fleeing conflict in the Middle East and seeking the light of a safe haven in Europe.

As an issue, migration defined 2015. It was a year of mass and rapid population movement. Conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and South Sudan; a typhoon in Vanuatu; an earthquake in Nepal; and some 900,000 migrants arriving by boat in Europe fleeing war, poverty, and persecution: the world was in flux from the mountains to the deserts to the oceans. In an ignorant panic, sections of media and society have sought to paint migration as a social evil: a divider of families and communities, a spawning ground for fanaticism. And after many decades of watching and commenting on migration, I am increasingly worried.

I see an anti-migrant sentiment beginning to seethe. I see political malaise; an absence of courage, a bankruptcy of leadership, and a paucity of moral sensitivity. I see a one-sided debate, focusing on fear, negativity and security. Where are the smiles of welcome from last summer? Where are the banners in football grounds declaring “Migrants Welcome”? I know they are there, and I know they will be seen again when we gather in cities and towns across the globe with candles of solidarity. The common sense and generosity of ordinary people, of communities made up of migrants and non-migrants, people of all shades of color, politics and piety – that is what sustains me.

I truly believe that communities will continue to open their hearts and arms to embrace the oppressed. While some national leaders may cavil, the United Nations, informed by a global grassroots debate, has drawn a line under the importance of migration in its blueprint for human development - the Sustainable Development Goals. Migration is firmly on the global agenda. The first United Nations side event on Migration took place this year. A summit in Malta brought African and European leaders together around migration. In Asia, governments have gathered to seek a regional solution to the migration crisis in the Andaman Sea. Canada’s new government has sounded a clarion call, taking 25,000 Syrian refugees in a rapid, regulated and welcome mass intake.

I have often described our time as a perfect storm of humanitarian emergencies which factor in today’s unprecedented human mobility. Almost one out of every seven human beings on this planet is in some way a migrant. That is over a billion people. But almost 60 million of them have been forced to leave their homes and the places they grew up. Millions of others are migrants seeking opportunity in other countries, or elsewhere within their own countries, just as anyone would. What makes this a perfect storm is the unprecedented hostility and fear that this is engendering in so many places. What city cannot be said to have thrived from migrant enterprise? But to read the invective against these victims of war and violence, and see how it spreads so easily across the world, makes me worry about where humanity is headed.

Now is the time for safe, secure and legal migration throughout the world.

Many have been arguing for a long time that to address the issues around human mobility, we require the management of migration, with security for all involved. We must recognize that migration is the megatrend of our time, and we need to treat it with seriousness, not smears, if we’re going to get anywhere. Migrants are moving and the world needs them. But the world also needs leadership in order to manage them in a safe, secure and legal manner. It is high time for mature societies to show that they will do what it takes to make this marriage work.

Yes, there is darkness. But we all have a little light. Let it shine.

Sources: IOM & Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Yesterday IOM marked the arrival of over 1,000 Syrian refugees to the UK since the government’s expansion of its resettlement scheme in September. This accomplishment represents a significant step forward in achieving the UK government’s commitment to resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees by the year 2020.

Under the auspices of UK government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme (VPR), IOM, in coordination with UNHCR and the governments of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, is proud to serve as a key partner in realizing this goal. IOM provides pre-departure and transit resettlement-related services for Syrian refugees. Prior to departure to the UK, IOM staff work hard to provide refugees with full medicals, all necessary travel documentation, and cultural orientation courses to prepare them for life in the UK.

In addition, IOM organizes travel, arranging flights, providing translation en route, and escorting refugees throughout their journey. Since September, Syrian refugees have arrived on charter and scheduled flights to locations throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Moussa, 33, a Syrian refugee due to be resettled in the U.K., told IOM staff, “I am really excited to be travelling to the UK with the help and assistance of IOM and the UK government. My dream is to provide better living standards for me and my family, [especially since] I have a new born baby. I want to learn the language to work and forget about all the bad memories which I had in Syria. Thank you again.”

IOM UK Chief of Mission Dipti Pardeshi said, “This is a touching demonstration of the fortitude of the human spirit and an inspiring example of what can be achieved through multilateral and interagency cooperation. We would like to thank the Government of the UK, the refugees, and the governments of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq for assisting with these resettlement movements and providing visas. Such cooperation is particularly important given the many ongoing humanitarian crises around the world which show no sign of ending soon.”

IOM looks forward to continuing to work with governments, partners, and receiving communities to help ensure Syrian refugees have an opportunity to rebuild safe and healthy lives in the UK.

For more information, please contact Mallory Carlson at IOM UK, Tel: +44 207 811 6049, Email:

The inclusion of migration into the Sustainable Development Goals in recognition of the role that human mobility plays in reducing poverty and inequality within and across countries is one of the key innovations of the 2030 international development agenda. The topic formed the basis of a symposium, hosted by IOM and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) on 14 December at the Royal Society in London.

Expert speakers from a range of disciplines came together to discuss the nexus between migration and development, reviewing the SDG targets that mention, or are relevant for, migration and how they can be implemented.

British-Gambian business and development executive and keynote speaker, Gibril Faal OBE, noted that while the policy battle had been won, greater attention must be placed on the duty of diligent implementation to demonstrate how the benefits of migration can be gained. Recognizing the political complexity of the topic, he noted that anxiety in host countries is natural, but editorialized and manufactured outrage must be addressed in any related discussions.

IOM International Cooperation and Partnerships Director Jill Helke provided the audience with a detailed overview of how migration is reflected across the goals and targets, addressing issues such as labour rights for migrant workers, reducing remittance transaction costs and ending modern slavery and trafficking.

Evidence on the positive impacts of both internal and international migration on poverty alleviation and inequality was highlighted in a presentation byAlan Winters of Sussex University’s Migrating Out of Poverty Research Consortium, reflecting the evolution of the migration-development debate over the past 15 years.
The discussion also considered the mechanisms and processes that could help review progress towards target 10.7, the centre-piece for migration in the development framework, with Stefano Scuratti of the Economist Intelligence Unit outlining what a potential indicator for ‘well-managed’ migration could look like.

With a focus on how to translate the migration-related SDG goals and targets into firm actions, panellists also discussed policy and practice opportunities for implementation. The process of integrating migration within policy design and planning, known as the “mainstreaming” process, is increasingly perceived as key in ensuring that the development potential of migration is maximized, according to IOM researcher Olivier Ferrari.

Oxford University researcher and former UNHCR official Jeff Crisp examined why the link between forced displacement and development has proved to be so elusive. He noted that this issue remains a gap that has not been addressed the SDG framework.

ODI’s Claire Melamed presented a policy roadmap to bring migration and development together, reflecting on how human movement is driving poverty reduction and affecting the outcome of all the SDGs. She noted and that any agenda that seeks to ‘leave no one behind’ must address specific groups such as migrants.

IOM UK Chief of Mission Dipti Pardeshi commented on the timeliness of the symposium, kick-starting a week of celebrations to mark International Migrants Day on December 18. “Rather than giving voice to negative perceptions of migrants, the international community must focus on promoting the positive benefits migration provides to both countries of origin and destination, as described in the 2030 Agenda. The integral role migrants play in sustainable development cannot be underestimated; migrants must not be left behind”, she said.

For further information, please contact Jenniffer Dew at IOM UK, Email:

IOM has released an update to its June 2015 response plan “Addressing Complex Migration Flows in the Mediterranean”. It includes a series of proposed interventions to be implemented through December 2016, some of which are already underway, others are still at the planning stage.

The plan presents IOM’s proposed interventions and reaffirms the collective responsibility of states, institutions and organizations to respond to the situation that the international community is facing in Europe and beyond, in a manner that is centered on the protection of migrants’ rights, as well as enhanced partnership between all concerned stakeholders.

The document details four pillars of a coordinated response, which will be implemented across multiple locations in Europe, parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa.

The four core pillars and objectives are:
  • Protecting migrants’ rights. Recognizes the need to reduce loss of life and human suffering during and as a result of migration and protect the human rights of all migrants.
  • Addressing drivers of irregular and forced migration. Recognizes the need to reduce negative contributing factors to irregular and forced migration and enable an informed choice between migrating safely and finding local alternatives.
  • Promoting safe, orderly and dignified human mobility. Recognizes the need to create the conditions for migration to take place in safe, orderly and dignified ways.
  • Strengthening partnerships for inclusive growth and sustainable development. Recognizes the need to create the structural conditions and make systemic changes needed to enable positive outcomes of migration for all involved.

The plan integrates required action across areas of origin, transit and destination. Full implementation of the plan and the effectiveness of the results will be contingent upon mobilizing the required financial resources, which IOM estimates at US$780 million through 31 December 2016.

To download a copy of the response plan please click here.

For further information please contact IOM HQ: Leonard Doyle Tel: + 41 79 285 71 23, Email: or Joel Millman, Tel: + 41 79 103 87 20, Email:

The World Migration Report 2015 Migrants and Cities: New Partnerships to Manage Mobility is being launched in the framework of the Conference on Migrants and Cities (CMC), as part of IOM's International Dialogue on Migration (IDM).

The World Migration Report 2015: Migrants and Cities, New Partnerships to Manage Mobility ─ the eighth report in IOM’s World Migration Report (WMR) series ─ focuses on how migration and migrants are shaping cities and how the life of migrants is shaped by cities, their people, organizations and rules. Over 54 per cent of people across the globe were living in urban areas in 2014. The number of people living in cities will almost double to some 6.4 billion by 2050, turning much of the world into a global city. Human mobility and migration play an important part in this but are largely missing from the global debate on urbanization. Many city and local governments also still do not include migration or migrants in their urban development planning and implementation. The report aims to address this gap by considering migration as a defining factor alongside climate change, population growth, demographic change and economic crisis in shaping sustainable cities of the future.

The World Migration Report 2015 contributes to the global debate on migration and urbanization in three ways:
  • The report takes migration enquiries to the city level and helps improve our understanding of the local political economies of migration, and highlights the close connection between migration and urban development. Much of the current discussion about migration trends and migration policy tends to focus on the national level.
  • The report draws attention to the livelihood of migrants in the cities of the Global South. The existing discussions on migrants and cities are inclined to concentrate primarily on the Global North and the integration of international migrants.
  • The report examines both internal and international migration. Cities across the development spectrum have increasingly mobile and diverse populations to manage.
While acknowledging the vast differences between international and internal migration scenarios, and between the capacities of various countries to deal with these, the report highlights the growing evidence of potential benefits of all forms of migration and mobility for city growth and development. It showcases innovative ways in which migration and urbanization policies can be better designed for the benefit of migrants and cities.

To read the English version of the World Migration Report 2015, please click here.
For the French version, please click here.

In recent days, French authorities confirmed that the number of people living in informal camps outside Calais, France, has doubled to 6,000 and that since June, a total of 16 migrants have been killed in or near the Channel Tunnel while trying to make the journey from France to the United Kingdom.

IOM photojournalist Amanda Nero was recently in Calais.

Just as the sun sets over the horizon, the migrants living in Calais’ ‘New Jungle’ begin their journey on foot towards the entrance of the Eurotunnel, with the specific aim of getting onto one of the trains or trucks heading to the UK.

Located seven kilometers from the port city of Calais, the informal migrant camps are a melting pot of nationalities which include Afghans, Pakistanis, Eritreans, Ethiopians and Sundanese, amongst many others. The migrants living in the camp want to cross to the UK for different reasons.

There are widespread rumors going round that as soon as they reach English soil they will have a place to stay and the government will take care of them. “When you arrive there, they put you in a 5 star hotel. It is true, my friend who lives there told me,” says Mohamed, a migrant from Sudan who graduated in finance.

Others believe that it will be easier to find a job because of the language. “There I can find a job because I can speak English, here I cannot,” another migrant explains.

Some want to go to England because they have family or friends there.

“My daughter and my wife are there,” says Amaur from Sudan.

This photo series shows a short part of their hopeful journey towards the UK.

First published in IOM Blog, article written by Amanda Nero.

The recent government reaction to the events in Calais has focused on strengthening border control as a primary response. As many European states, including the UK, take this approach, the complex mixed migration flows and causes of human mobility have been lost in a heated debate characterised by increased security and threats to deport irregular migrants. The reality of what is unfolding across the continent highlights the need for Europe to collaboratively manage the situation in a long-term and rights-based framework, with the initial steps outlined by the European Commission’s European Agenda on Migration as a welcome start to the process.

Calais, a Microcosm

There are around 2,800 migrants in Calais at this moment. This is very small in comparison to the arrivals recorded by IOM through the Mediterranean passage (including Italy, Malta, Greece and Spain) with 249,650[1] arriving since January of this year, plus 2,349 migrants who tragically died en route. The main countries of origin of those in Calais are Sudan, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Syria. Other nationalities include Senegal, Central African Republic, Niger, Mali, and Sri Lanka, although in smaller degrees.

In terms of Channel crossing attempts, according to the police and other Calais-based NGOs, small groups of individuals attempt to enter the tunnel in different periods, in some cases trying a number of times. Although data is not official, it is thought that the total number of attempts stood at 1,200 for the night between July 27th and 28th, and 400 during the night of August 1st. In recent days, it is understood that the number of attempts has dropped to between 100 to 200 a night. During these attempts, 10 people lost their lives.

Calais in Wider Perspective

Much has been said about migrant activity causing disruptions to services across the Channel. Much less has been said about industrial action in Calais triggering the route closures and causing severe disruptions since late June. Shifting disproportionate attention to migrants on this issue has led to further anti-immigrant sentiment among the general population, perpetuated by labelling the situation as a "crisis".

As Mr. Eugenio Ambrosi, IOM's Regional Director for the EU, Norway and Switzerland, recently stated, "… while there is a crisis in humanitarian terms and in terms of people losing their lives, IOM does not view this as a crisis in terms of numbers because France, the UK and the EU as a whole have the size, resources and capacity to deal with these relatively low numbers of migrants and asylum seekers.”

To understand the current and future situation, it is essential to comprehend the drivers of such movements across dangerous routes. Those in Calais are often individuals fleeing widespread violence and human rights abuses, particularly those coming from Syria and Eritrea. When put into context, the number of Syrians reaching Europe is minimal in comparison to the 4 million refugees in Syria’s neighbouring states, such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

Likewise, the numbers of individuals in Calais who attempt to come to the UK represent a small proportion of the world's most vulnerable people. Some believe that allowing migrants in to the UK may act as a 'pull factor'. The reality is that conflicts, abuses, and economic hardships are fueling this unprecedented mobility of people in search of the minimal conditions for survival.

A Balanced Response

While mixed populations are present in Calais, including economic migrants, we must ensure the rights of all individuals, regardless of the reason for migration, are respected, and that the human side must not be lost in the overall discourse. Targeting smugglers to dismantle their operations alone will not resolve the issue. While it is crucial that European states reinforce efforts to arrest and prosecute those profiting from vulnerable people, we must understand that putting smugglers out of business will only be possible by providing real alternatives to those seeking their services. For this reason, it is critical to consider the individual circumstances of migrants in complex flows and ensure that we can adequately identify and assist those with special needs, such as victims of trafficking or asylum seekers. The option to return home needs to be balanced against other components of migration policy, including the availability of legal channels for migration to meet labour market demands. An effective, fair and transparent return policy ensures the integrity of national immigration and asylum systems.

As stated by the IOM Director General, Ambassador William Lacy Swing, migration is desirable, necessary and inevitable - a process which needs to be better managed, rather than a problem to be solved. The EU, including the UK, have a moral and historical responsibility to respond in a humane way and to better establish itself as a global actor based on human rights and democratic values. Migrants can contribute to economies and societies given the chance. A longer term vision to governing migration is vital rather than short-term, crisis and security-focused measures with doubtful and even counterproductive outcomes.

Citing a new study, “Addressing Human Trafficking and Exploitation in Times of Crisis,” International Organization for Migration Director General William Lacy Swing called the exploitation and trafficking of victims, a growing phenomenon in a world awash in conflict and natural disasters.

“Trafficking in persons not only flourishes during a disaster, it is a direct result of disasters, every bit as much as the infrastructural damages, the loss of life or the food shortages which garner far more attention,” said Ambassador Swing.

He added: “In all three categories of disaster – conflict zones, natural calamities, or man-made disasters – we found that the lack of normalcy allowed traffickers to exploit existing or crisis-induced vulnerabilities. In conflict, the lack of rule of law creates a condition of impunity, where people are trafficked to finance war, to provide sexual services, and to reinforce enslavement of ethnic minorities.”

Ambassador Swing cited a growing trafficking crisis in Libya and countries across the Middle East, where migrant workers are facing increasingly hostile and abusive working conditions. He warned that the on-going conflict in Syria has forced many families and individuals to adopt harmful coping mechanisms such as forced early marriages and child labour, often resulting in exploitation and trafficking.

“Addressing Human Trafficking and Exploitation in Times of Crisis” looked at the armed conflicts in Libya, Iraq, Syria and across West Africa, at the earthquakes in the Indian Ocean region, Haiti and Nepal, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and the protracted unrest in Eastern Africa leading to migration through North Africa and onwards to Europe.

Out of millions of men, women and children trafficked each year, only approximately 45,000 victims are identified. IOM assists one in seven of those cases, helping victims return to normal lives often after years of appalling abuse and cruelty.

In one recent case, IOM helped free 600 men from fishing trawlers in the seas off Indonesia. Some had not been on dry land for years; one of the victims had been separated from his family, without any contact, for 22 years. “People like this need understanding and help, often long-term, in times of stability as much as in times of crisis,” Ambassador Swing said.

He concluded: “The chaos that results from massive natural disasters such as those seen in Nepal, the Philippines, Haiti and the Tsunami-affected countries in the Indian Ocean region can provide a perfect laboratory for trafficking activities where criminals experiment with new ways of exploiting vulnerable people. Meanwhile irregular migrants on the dangerous and remote migratory corridors of northern Africa can quickly be found by traffickers and duped into slavery.”

To access the study, “Addressing Human Trafficking and Exploitation in Times of Crisis,” please download here.

For further information please contact IOM HQ: Laurence HART, Head, Migrant Assistance Division,, + 41 79 833 64 11 or Mathieu LUCIANO, Head, Assistance to Vulnerable Migrants Unit,, +41 79 701 15 23.

The IOM Director General, Ambassador William Lacy Swing, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), signed a cooperation agreement on June 30th between their respective organisations to strengthen their relationship and tackle human trafficking through awareness raising.

The event took place at the Archbishop’s House in London, following more than 5 years of cooperation between the IOM office in the United Kingdom and the CBCEW. The partnership began with a mutual understanding that raising awareness about human trafficking through training is key to ensuring that the practice is identified and eliminated. Empowering individuals, such as members of the clergy, school pupils, and the wider church community, allows individuals to understand the crime and its hidden and complex in nature, and to find ways to take action.

Through this partnership IOM has already delivered training to 400 people in coordination with CBCEW, and developed a training manual containing important information and educational exercises about the phenomenon of trafficking, how to identify it and how to make a referral for someone in need of help. The cooperation agreement will seek to enhance further collaborative work on these activities between the two organisations.

During the event held to mark the signing of the agreement, Ambassador Swing noted “IOM and the Catholic Church have a common goal, strengthened by an effective partnership, to raise these hidden victims from the shadows”. Cardinal Nichols reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s commitment to informing the clergy and the wider public of the causes and consequences of trafficking and celebrated the signing of the agreement as a way for relations to be strengthened globally between the church and IOM. He further noted that the agreement coincided with the forthcoming opening of the Bakhita Initiative to provide support and shelter to victims of trafficking.

For further information on IOM UK’s training initiatives, or our work with the Catholic Church and other faith bodies, please contact

In 2014, over 2,300 individuals were identified as victims of trafficking in the UK from over 96 different countries. Human trafficking is a hidden crime and one of the first steps to combating it is to identify victims so that they can be rescued and protected from further harm. As such, IOM UK has developed a short training course to help key professionals understand the indicators of human trafficking and how to take appropriate action when needed. In order to add weight and recognition to participants’ learning achievements, IOM UK has recently attained ‘Continual Professional Development (CPD) Accreditation’. CPD is used to ensure professionals remain effective and capable in employment. All participants will now receive a CPD training certificate, contributing towards their personal professional development.

The training programme has been running since 2011 with over 2000 individuals in the UK taking part, including front line practitioners, students and members of the public. To meet the varied requirements of attendees, IOM offers anything from half day to fast track courses lasting just one hour. Participants include social services personnel, local authority practitioners, healthcare professionals, police, immigration staff and teachers.

The programme provides an overview of human trafficking, including the definition, international and national legal frameworks, causes and consequences and indicators. It goes on to detail identification and the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), and ends with information on taking action, including maintaining a victim-centred approach and appropriate pathways for return and reintegration.

IOM has found that the multi-agency trainings work best; all trainings include group work and require active participation, and by inviting participants from a range of fields and sectors to a single training, light and shade is added to a vibrant group discussion. Antony Botting, the Modern Slavery Project Lead at Croydon Council, states, “The IOM have trained over 500 practitioners in Croydon, which has been very well received - statutory services and the voluntary sector have said that they benefitted from it. This is an essential component in the drive to improve the identification of suspected cases of human trafficking, which practitioners may encounter on a day to day basis”.

Training is an invaluable tool, unique in its ability to be both proactive and reactive. Those who have completed the course have been able to define the concept of trafficking and outline the general issues with regards to this, distinguish between trafficking and smuggling, recognise the impact of trafficking on victims, and identify possible indicators.

Training is high on the agenda of combatting trafficking. As outlined by the United States Trafficking in Persons Report, ‘Governments cannot sit back and wait for victims to self-identify; rather, they must proactively seek victims out by investigating high-risk sectors, screening vulnerable populations, and training relevant government officials to recognize trafficking when they see it1’. It is IOM’s hope that additional agencies and authorities will recognise the value of training those on the frontline; until those in position to identify are equipped to do so, victims will fall between the gaps into further exploitation.

For more information on the IOM training programme, please contact

On Saturday 6th June 2015, the Worldwide Somali Students & Professionals (WSSP), in collaboration with IOM, hosted the event “Brain Gain: Strengthening Somali Institutions and the Role of UK Diaspora Professionals” at University College London, to inform the UK’s Somali diaspora professionals about the Migration for Development (MIDA) Somalia programme.

The event marked the beginning of a pilot project which will see WSSP engaging their extensive network of Somali professionals in the UK, and further afield, to raise their awareness about opportunities to be involved in the strengthening of Somali institutions through the MIDA programme’s short-term assignments.

Over 100 Somali professionals attended the event where they had the opportunity to hear from the WSSP Executive Director, Kasim Ali, the IOM Somalia Chief of Mission, Gerard Waite, and the MIDA-Somalia Programme Manager, Frantz Celestin, about opportunities to apply for assignments to share their much-needed skills within Somali government institutions. “By strengthening the human resource capacity of key institutions, the Somali diaspora can play a crucial role in helping the country achieve its development goals” commented Kasim Ali. "Indeed, this project provides the structure for the Somali Diaspora to change the narrative on Somalia", added Frantz Celestin.

Gerard Waite noted that due to two decades of civil conflict, Somalia has seen a significant proportion of its population migrating to other countries which has significantly impacted the country for the past two decades. He welcomed the collaboration with WSSP as a key partner to improve the future of Somalia by tapping into the skills and cultural links of the diaspora in the UK.

Kasim Ali explained to participants that “as a global movement that exists to mobilise young Somalis to use their talents, work together and address the unmet needs of a proud nation, the WSSP is pleased to be help its members to be able to shape the future of Somalia”. He also informed the audience that the event was first of several outreach activities they will be implementing across the UK and targeting the Somali diaspora.

Frantz Celestin provided detailed information to those attending about the variety of assignments they could apply for, from health to public finance management, as well as the process they would need to follow to submit an application. While noting the challenges that they might face in participating in an assignment, audience members expressed their interest and readiness to look out for vacancies that met their skills and experience.

For information about the MIDA Somalia programme please visit or contact Frantz Celestin at

For further information about WSSP, please visit or contact Kasim Ali

The Diaspora Volunteering Alliance (DVA) hosted a one-day conference on “The Future of Diaspora Volunteering in Development” on Monday June 1st, with the support of AFFORD UK and IOM, at the Amnesty Human Rights Centre in London.

Opened by Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE, the first chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Diaspora, Development and Migration (APPGDDM), the event brought together diaspora groups, decision makers and volunteer-led organisations to discuss how opportunities from the current economic and social climate can be created to harness the potential of diaspora volunteering for development purposes.
The event was an opportunity to discuss the key challenges and opportunities present for diaspora groups and organisations to volunteer, and how such activities can contribute to the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Panellists included programme and campaigns specialists from the Danish Refugee Council, the Department for International Development, Bond, AFFORD and other diaspora-led organisations.

Tauhid Pasha, IOM’s Senior Specialist on Migration and Development, spoke of the importance of integrating diaspora partners into policy discussions to become full agents of development. “Diaspora organizations must be equipped to reach their full potential in order to engage effectively in development. We must understand who the diaspora are, how they operate and in what way they wish to engage.”

Tauhid cited the successful take-up of various IOM programmes, including the temporary return of qualified national’s project, which proves that there is a committed and highly-skilled diaspora that are willing and able to get involved in a more meaningful way. However, he reiterated that such projects, which seek to promote skills transfer and capacity building through the provision of technical expertise, must “go hand in glove with what is happening in the country, what the gaps and needs are, and how such activities fit within the national development strategies and framework.”

Mingo Heiduk-Tetsche of the Danish Refugee Council echoed this remark by pointing out that diaspora members should not replace the roles and skills of the population present in the country of origin and that “needs assessments are crucial to understanding how to operate in certain contexts.”

The afternoon portion of the event allowed for participants to break out into groups and practically discuss how to tackle some of the barriers facing diaspora organisations, such as diversifying funding for volunteer programmes and how to better engage with younger generations.

On the basis of the feedback received, DVA will develop an action plan for how its members and conference participants can influence and engage decision makers to recognise the impact of diaspora volunteering programmes, and offer more support.

The event closed with the launch of the DVA website and a presentation on the new strategy for Comic Relief’s Common Ground Initiative (CGI). CGI seeks to increase funding to and strengthen the capacity of diaspora organisations in order to create sustainable change for communities across Africa.

IOM has joined forces with the United Kingdom’s Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), which coordinates the Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX), in its UK-wide “I Am An Immigrant”poster campaign. The campaign aims to humanize the debate on migration and highlights the vital contributions migrants make to society in the run up to the UK General Election in early May.

IOM will join JCWI in promoting the campaign’s message and at the same time promote its own#MigrantHeroes initiative, which also seeks to change the lens through which people view migration by providing evidence of its positive side, through the voices of migrants themselves. The goal of both campaigns is to induce an open and inclusive conversation about migration policy built on human rights and equality.

The campaign, launched in London earlier this week, comprises 15 posters which have now been displayed across national rail and London Underground stations. Photographed by Vogue photographer Philip Volkers, they show immigrants with diverse backgrounds, ranging from a comedian to a mental health nurse, from around the world.

The posters consist of a photograph of the individual with their name and occupation, entitled “I am an Immigrant”, and have a simple quote outlining their contribution to British society. For example: “I am a mental health nurse and for 15 years I have been helping people with depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.”

The “I Am An Immigrant” website, also unveiled this week, provides individuals with the opportunity to share their migration story and become a part of the campaign through their own poster, generated automatically on the website.

The site will also provide those interested in being considered for the #MigrantHeroes nomination to become an IOM Goodwill Ambassador, with the opportunity to share information on their experiences as a migrant. IOM will select three #MigrantHeroes from the nominations, who will be announced in November 2015 at the IOM Council, and who will be invited to act as IOM Goodwill Ambassadors.

Speaking at the launch, IOM spokesperson Itayi Viriri said: “This campaign which will significantly add to our efforts in challenging and dispelling the many myths and misconceptions about migrants. Too often, migration is viewed as a problem and the subsequent risk is that immigration policies in many countries are shaped by fears and misconceptions, rather than by facts.”

The “I Am An Immigrant” campaign was made possible through crowd funding which enabled JCWI to raise £54,101, with over 1,500 people donating money and over 39,000 people viewing the campaign social media sites within a three-week period.

To find out more about the #MigrantHeroes campaign, please click here and for more on “I Am An Immigrant” campaign click here.

For further information, please contact Itayi Viriri at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 22 717 93 61, Email:

Yesterday (2/3) IOM United Kingdom Chief of Mission Clarissa Azkoul joined former Labour Minister and Member of Parliament Dame Tessa Jowell, Colombian Ambassador Nestor Osorio and various money transfer operators at the launch of the first “World Money Transfer Day,” which will take place on Sunday, 15th March 2015.

World Money Transfer Day will bring together members of the money transfer industry with diaspora community organizations as part of an effort to lower the global cost of remittances and raise consumer awareness of the choices available in a traditionally uncompetitive and non-transparent market.

World Money Transfer Day will see money transfer fees reduced to zero and zero commission on the exchange rate charged on Sunday, 15th March 2015. In the longer term, the initiative seeks to support diaspora communities with financial education and to permanently lower the cost of money transfers.

At the launch event at the Colombian Embassy, Clarissa Azkoul said: “IOM supports and seeks to promote innovative remittance mechanisms which reduce the cost of money transfer for migrants. The hard-earned money that migrants send every day to their loved ones back home represents a vital economic lifeline and should be maximized to the extent possible.”

“IOM recognizes that progress in this area requires concerted, collaborative effort among governments, the private sector and the international community – through initiatives such as World Money Transfer Day,” she added.

Dame Tessa Jowell, who is championing the day, noted that many of London’s migrants work longer hours just to cover the transfer costs they face when sending money home. She noted both the importance of working to gain popular support for reducing the costs in the long term.

Ambassador Nestor Osorio closed the event noting that Colombia receives around USD 4 billion a year in remittances – an amount considerably larger than the income generated through the country’s largest export – coffee. He also noted the importance of improving the financial literacy of the Colombian community in the UK to ensure that they are making informed decisions about the way they send money home.

For more information please contact Jenniffer Dew at IOM UK, Tel: + 44 207 811 6035, Email:
IOM Deputy Director General Laura Thompson this week delivered a keynote speech at the UK House of Commons to launch the All Party Parliamentary Group on Diaspora, Development and Migration. The event was chaired by AFFORD UK.

The purpose of the group is to promote parliamentary and public understanding of the key issues affecting diaspora communities in the UK, and to expand and enhance their contributions to the international development agenda. It aims to connect parliamentarians with diaspora organizations, academics and civil society groups to inform policy on how diaspora contributions can be harnessed for greater impact.

“Building trust between national institutions and diaspora members and organisations is critical to the success of diaspora engagement policies and programmes,” said Ambassador Thompson.

“In this era of unprecedented human mobility, the opportunities that diaspora engagement presents, for societies and governments, are essential to harness and maximise the benefits of migration for both countries of residence and of origin,” she added.

IOM’s strategy on diaspora aims to engage, empower and enable these communities for the benefit of both their countries of origin and the countries that they are settled in.

“Diaspora members are investors, entrepreneurs, philanthropists: they invest in businesses in their countries of origin and build trade networks between countries of origin and destination, with great benefit to both. They facilitate the flow of knowledge and skills, establishing transnational scientific networks and contributing to the diffusion of technology across countries,” noted Ambassador Thompson.

Development practitioners and policymakers alike increasingly recognize the contributions of migrants and diaspora communities to development. Migration and its impact on development now feature in a number of international policy agendas, including the UN High Level Dialogue (UNHLD), Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), the Rio+20 process, the follow up to the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development in 2014, and the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Post-2015 Development Agenda framework.

At the UNHLD held in October 2013, the UN General Assembly adopted the declaration Making Migration Work: an Eight-point Agenda for Action. The eight-point agenda recognised the important nexus between diaspora, development and migration which the work of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Diaspora, Development and Migration (APPGDDM) will focus on over the coming years.

The event was hosted by Baroness Young of Hornsey and included a speech on behalf of the APPGDDM Secretariat, Gibril Faal, and the chair of African Foundation for Development UK.

For more information please contact: Jenniffer Dew at IOM UK, Tel: + 44 207 811 6035, Email: