News & Events


A joint conference, organised by Healthcare Conferences UK & The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, on Improving Mental Health Support for Asylum Seekers and Refugees will take place at the ICO Conference Centre, in London on Wednesday 8th June 2016.

Chaired by Guglielmo Schinina, Head of Mental Health, Psychosocial Response and Intercultural Communication Section (MHPSS), International Organization for Migration, and researched and produced in partnership with the Child and Family Refugee Service at The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, this important and timely conference will support delegates to better understand and meet the needs of asylum seekers and refugees.

Through practical case studies and extended interactive masterclasses, the conference will look at developing local services and responses, developing early access to psychological first aid, delivering psychosocial support to refugees. The conference also includes interactive sessions drawing on theory from psychotherapy (eg. the effects of counter transference), narrative and systemic family approaches, community and liberation practices, working with asylum seekers and refugees who have experienced trauma, and therapeutic care of unaccompanied young people seeking asylum. The final session will focus on improving access to crisis mental health services for asylum seekers and refugees.

With national updates from Maurice Wren Chief Executive, Refugee Council, and Paul Farmer Chief Executive, MIND and case study presentations topics will include:
  • understanding the psychological impact of traumatic experiences associated with asylum seekers and refugees;
  • methodologies used by specialist teams to support these populations; developing the skills to respond to the needs of these communities.

Migration is set to play a central role at the first World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) which opens in Istanbul today (23/5). At the two-day event, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing will discuss with leaders of the international community the state of humanitarian aid, notably its parlous financing and the global displacement crisis.

He will help to lay out an agenda for further improvements in the manner in which aid is delivered to internally displaced people, refugees and other vulnerable populations in need of assistance.

Seven High-Level Leaders’ Round Tables and 15 Special Sessions will be convened, with the participation of some 60 Heads of State and Government, ministers, representatives of international organizations, civil society and the private sector. A further one hundred issue-specific side events will also take place over the course of the Summit.

“We approach this event with realistic expectations, but I am optimistic that the Istanbul Summit will mark a shift in our (humanitarian) world,” Swing said. “We need to ensure that the needs and rights of all people affected by crises, in particular vulnerable migrants, are prioritized as part of humanitarian response."

At the Summit, IOM is hosting a Special Session on Migrants and Humanitarian Action to focus on ways in which the humanitarian community can better address the protection and assistance needs of vulnerable migrants.

Most notable will be his participation at the Humanitarian Financing Roundtable where he will deliver a statement on behalf of IOM, WHO, UNRWA, UNDP and UNFPA.

The event will gather a panel of leaders, including Swing, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, and representatives of the governments of Canada, Germany, Bangladesh, in a one-hour session ahead of the High Level Meeting on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, which will take place at the UN General Assembly on 19 September.

“The Special Session is important as it will emphasize the humanitarian dimensions of migration, particularly the need to protect and assist vulnerable migrants. This will present a great opportunity to highlight that migrants can enjoy protection of their human rights, particularly in crisis contexts that result in cross-border movements,” Swing said.

IOM is also playing a leading role in the following sessions at the WHS.
  • Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA). The European Commission, the United States and UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will host the session, which will address ways in which the international community can combat sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers. This represents a core commitment for IOM, which is at the forefront of Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)’s PSEA efforts.
  • Migrants in Countries in Crisis initiative (MICIC). The session will be co-hosted by the US and Philippines. IOM, which plays a critical role in supporting the MICIC initiative, will participate in the panel discussion, along with the co-hosts and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC).
  • Follow-up to the Nansen Initiative. The session will be co-hosted by Germany and Switzerland. Swing will join UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland, and Ministers from the co-organizers and Bangladesh to introduce the discussion. The Nansen Initiative addresses the protection of people displaced across borders by the effects of climate change.
  • The Grand Bargain. This session seeks to build on the work of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing. The 15 largest humanitarian donors and 15 largest humanitarian organizations, including IOM, have agreed to a set of new commitments, including more flexible funding, cash-based programming, support to first line responders, financial transparency, and ensuring that the voices of the most vulnerable groups (considering, gender, age, ethnicity, language and special needs) are heard and acted upon. This is designed to help introduce major reforms across the humanitarian system over the next few years.

IOM is also taking part in other events throughout the Summit, including the Special Session on Global Health, the Round Table on Displacement, and a number of side events.
It is also participating at the Summit’s exhibition space, with an IOM booth and a booth promoting the global Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster, which is co-led by IOM and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

For more information please contact Leonard Doyle in Istanbul. Email:, Tel: +41. 79 2857123.

Nearly 7,000 victims of trafficking were assisted by IOM in 115 countries during 2015. The victim assistance caseload, which is the largest in the world, increased by approximately 9 percent compared to the previous year.

The majority of victims assisted by IOM in 2015 were trafficked for the purpose of labour exploitation (74 percent). Construction, domestic work and fishing were amongst the top sectors in which individuals were exploited. A fifth of all victims assisted by IOM in 2015 were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. A further 5 percent of all individuals assisted were trafficked for the purpose of both sexual and labour exploitation.

“IOM’s human trafficking dataset is unique in its scope and has great potential to feed the development of evidence-based policy and response to combat the crime and to address the root causes of this phenomenon,” said Anh Nguyen, Head of IOM’s Migrant Assistance Division.

He added that the data presented a different profile of victims of trafficking to those illustrated by other global figures on human trafficking. “In addition to the fact that there were more victims assisted by IOM who have been trafficked for the purpose of labour exploitation, than for the purpose of sexual exploitation, there were more male (55 percent) than female victims.”

IOM data reflects important progress made in recent years in the field of counter-trafficking in building recognition and awareness that men are also victims of trafficking and that trafficking does not always involve sexual exploitation.

Victims assisted by IOM in 2015 had spent an average of 3 years in the trafficking process, a time which could range from 0 to 25 years.

Approximately 13 percent of the IOM caseload were children. Among the victims trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, nearly one in five were children, and among the victims of trafficking who were exploited through labour, 4 percent were children.

Most of the victims assisted by IOM globally (85 percent) were trafficked across borders. More than a third of the victims assisted by IOM were first identified by or referred to the organization in Europe (37 percent). East and South-East Asia and South and Central Asia were the regions of origin with the highest concentration of victims which IOM assisted, and represented just over a quarter of the caseload each. These location data are not necessarily representative of global human trafficking prevalence trends, but instead reflect where IOM has the most extensive programming.

“We are now partnering with other leaders in this field to host the world’s largest open access, multi-stakeholder repository of human trafficking data – the Human Trafficking Data Portal. By making our data available to external parties on a systematic basis, whilst ensuring the anonymity of victims, the Portal will rapidly enhance the evidence base for the development of responses to the threat of human trafficking and labour exploitation and abuse,” Nguyen said.

IOM is the largest provider of services to victims of human trafficking across the globe. IOM has implemented counter trafficking programmes since 1994 and has, since then, assisted over 70,000 trafficked persons and exploited migrants.

For more information on IOM counter-trafficking programmes, please click here.

For more information on IOM counter-trafficking activities in the UK, please click here.

For further information please contact Harry Cook, IOM HQ, Tel: +41 227 179 502; Email:

IOM Deputy Director General Laura Thompson met with representatives from business, government, trade unions and civil society organisations in London on Wednesday 4th May to discuss what has been called “modern slavery” and to launch a call to action for global corporations to eliminate unethical recruitment practices, including the charging of extortionate fees to migrant workers.

IOM joined HP Inc., Coca-Cola Company, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, IKEA and Unilever – along with the Institute for Human Rights & Business, Vérité and the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility – for the launch of the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment.

Among the core goals of this new initiative is the “Employer Pays Principle”, which states no worker should have to pay for his or her job. Instead, employers should pay for the recruitment and deployment costs of migrant workers. “Employer Pays” will be an important first step in protecting migrant workers by tackling the costs and fees that often erode workers’ salaries, or leave them at risk of exploitation and forced labour.

DDG Thompson emphasized that the benefits of labour migration are evident: labour mobility is desirable to ensure that labour and skills gaps are filled, while providing opportunities for workers across borders. However, unless measures are put into place to ensure that migrant workers are protected from exploitation throughout the recruitment process, and during their employment, the consequences can be severe.

Throughout the migration process, migrant workers are vulnerable to labour exploitation, abuse and human rights violations, including human trafficking. According to the ILO, 21 million people are victims of forced labour, 19 million of whom are exploited by individuals or private enterprises. Too often, labour migrants find themselves employed under substandard or exploitative working conditions, forced, deceived, and unable to leave due to “invisible chains” that bind them to a worksite or an employer.

Even where there is little physical danger, workers often endure what amounts to debt bondage after being forced to pay onerous recruitment fees just for the opportunity to work. Other times, payment is withheld from an employee or passports and other identity documents are retained, to ensure that they remain in captivity for the duration of their contract.

Leading companies worldwide recognise their responsibilities and are taking action. “In Asia, some workers travel across the continent looking for higher wages and can be misled by corrupt job brokers into paying these unjust costs,” Apple wrote in its 2016 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report, adding “Workers shouldn’t have to go into debt to earn a pay-check.” Apple audits its suppliers as part of its ongoing commitment to eliminate forced labour and in 2015 required its suppliers to repay USD 4.7 million in recruitment fees back to workers.

Other companies are taking action through a number of initiatives, such as labour supply chain mapping to trace their workers’ journeys from home communities to the worksite, and pre-departure orientation to empower workers with accurate information on their contract terms, rights, and access to remedy. In this way, recruited workers learn that earnings and salary deductions should be fair and transparent – and not opportunities for unscrupulous labour brokers to siphon off workers’ earnings through inflated billing.

IOM also helps companies and governments ensure that migrant workers are hired in a fair and transparent manner, consistent with ethical recruitment principles, in part through the development of industry-led codes of conduct and other self-regulatory initiatives requiring ethical recruitment practices within supply chains. One example is the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS), a voluntary certification process for international recruitment being developed by IOM, together with a group of like-minded partners.

For further information please contact Lara White at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 22 717 9365, Email:

“If We Leave We Are Killed” is an independent report that analyses the unprecedented protection and humanitarian response at UN peacekeeping bases in South Sudan, where as many as 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have sought shelter from a vicious civil war since December 2013.

By opening its gates, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), alongside humanitarians, has saved thousands of lives. Conditions for IDPs within the Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites can be crowded and harsh, but the sites represent one of the only sources of safety for civilians as they continue to bear the brunt of the conflict.

Despite cautious optimism as implementation of the peace agreement moves forward, key stakeholders recognise that PoC sites are likely to remain necessary in the years to come.

In face of this reality, the Government of Switzerland and IOM commissioned this report to objectively examine the response at PoC sites, identify lessons learned in the past two and a half years and recommend key steps for improvement.

“My sincere hope is that this report leads to an open discussion among key actors, improving the response and protection offered to IDPs in UNMISS bases,” said Dr. Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, in his foreword to the report.

The report is informed by dozens of interviews with key stakeholders, including UNMISS and humanitarian staff, donors and IDPs themselves.

Among key takeaways, the report recommends that both UNMISS and humanitarians embark upon longer-term planning and strengthen coordination to ensure a safe and secure environment for IDPs, noting that the protection needs of IDPs must be addressed realistically by all.

Apon, an elder currently living the PoC site in Malakal, is one of the IDPs interviewed by the report’s author, Michael Arensen. While describing the perilous course he undertook to reach the site in 2015, he acknowledged the very hard choice that many IDPs must make between living in crowded conditions and risking their lives outside the sites: “The PoC is hot, but it is better than death—if we leave we will be killed,” he observed.

The crisis in South Sudan has killed more than 50,000 people, internally displaced nearly 1.7 million and forced another 711,000 to flee to neighbouring countries. Confronted by multiple displacements and an unpredictable security environment, civilians in the country remain in dire need. The UN estimates that more than 6.1 million people will require humanitarian assistance this year.

Download the report here.

For further information, please contact Ashley McLaughlin at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +211 922 405 716,

A launch of this report is taking place at Chatham House, London on Wednesday 10th May. For more information, please click here.

As part of its contribution to supporting follow-up and review of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in September 2015, IOM and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) have published a Migration Governance Index (MGI).

The index, the first of its kind, provides a framework for countries to measure their progress towards better migration governance. It comprises information that offers a means to compare migration policies in a systematic way. The aim is to raise awareness of what good migration governance might look like and it does not try to rank countries’ migration policies.

The SDGs, which underpin the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, address a broad set of issues including eradicating extreme poverty, tackling inequalities and coping with effects of climate change.

They also identify migration as a core issue for mainstream development policy. Migration is mentioned in a number of SDG targets, such as ending modern day slavery and addressing the vulnerability of migrant workers.

The central reference to migration in the SDGs is a target on the facilitation of orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.

The question now is how to operationalize this important, yet rather vague target.

The MGI considers countries’ institutional framework in a number of key policy areas, including: (i) institutional capacity; (ii) migrant rights; (iii) labour, economics and investments; (iv) migration management; and (v) partnerships.

These five policy domains are directly inspired from IOM’s Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF), adopted by IOM’s 162 Member States in November last year.

The MGI results will be a tool to assist governments to identify gaps and prioritize when building institutional capacity and devising new migration policies and programmes.

To begin with, IOM and EIU have applied the MGI to fifteen pilot countries. The first finding was that it is possible to synthesize and compare such complex policy areas for countries in very diverse migratory contexts.

Another finding was that high ambition on migration policies is not reserved to high-income countries. Indeed, a number of middle-income countries put well-managed migration polices on top of their agenda, especially those having important diaspora communities abroad that make significant contributions to the national economies.

Finally, the study finds that countries with strong lead agencies on migration, transparency on rules and procedures, and cross border collaboration, often lead to high scoring across the MGI sub-indicators.

The main findings of the first MGI report were presented on 2 May in Geneva, and launches in other regions of the world will follow, starting with a presentation in Berlin on 3 May and Bangkok on 6 June. The discussions with IOM Member States will allow refining the MGI methodology and sub-indicators.

The full report can be found here.

For more information please contact Lars Lonnback at IOM HQ. Tel: 41 (0)22 717 9483, Email: