News & Events


The United Nations Summit on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants which took place on Monday in New York, provides a singular opportunity for the global community to forge a greater consensus on managing the world’s movements of migrants and refugees. IOM considers migration to be a mega-trend of the 21st Century representing unprecedented human mobility with one of every seven persons worldwide living or working somewhere other than their place of birth.

“We are gathered here today for an historic Summit—the first ever to assemble Heads of State from around the world to address the question of refugees and migrants,” said International Organization for Migration (IOM) Director General William Lacy Swing in opening remarks for Monday’s events.

With representatives of nearly two hundred nation states looking on, Ambassador Swing signed a document formally linking IOM to the United Nations. Starting Monday, IOM from now on will join the UN as one of its related organizations, giving the United Nations, for the first time, an explicit, official migration mandate.

With their signatures Monday, UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon and IOM Director General Swing signalled the culmination of a process that began in earnest in June 2016 when IOM Member States unanimously endorsed the process to join the UN. Ambassador Swing emphasized that the process reflects a growing recognition of the importance of migration and the need to better link human mobility with related policy agendas, including in the humanitarian, development, human rights, climate change and peace and security domains.

“The signature of this historic agreement brings the leading global migration agency, International Organization for Migration (IOM) – into the United Nations – the culmination of a 65-year relationship. For the very first time in 71 years, the UN now has a ‘UN Migration Agency’,” Ambassador Swing said, adding, “This is a singular honour for our Organization – and a genuine success for migrants and Member States and indeed for this Summit.”

The UN Summit will also set in motion a much longer process focused on migration – a Global Compact on safe, regular and orderly migration that upholds the human rights of migrants and their families, irrespective of migration status.

“A record number of people are uprooted, forced to move--refugees, internally displaced persons, victims of trafficking, unaccompanied minors,” Ambassador Swing told the opening session, adding “climate change threatens yet a further 75 million living just one meter above sea level.”

Ambassador Swing also noted that he timing of this Summit was critical. “We’re facing, also, a series – that I have not seen in my lifetime – of unprecedented simultaneous, complex and protracted crises and humanitarian emergencies in an "arc of instability," that stretches from the Western bulge of Africa to the Himalayas.”

IOM’s director noted the world is witnessing an unprecedented level of human mobility, with more and more refugees and migrants leaving their homes and travelling alone. He added that the challenge of addressing large movements of refugees and migrants was not insurmountable, if the international community shared responsibility.

IOM’s collaboration with the UN is already close, and will become even more so with the organization as part of the UN system. This will help ensure that the issues surrounding the world’s 244 million international migrants are well addressed. Most importantly, the summit and the process leading to a Global Compact on migration, will be a defining moment for human mobility.

For further information please contact Leonard Doyle, Tel: + 41 79 285 7123, Email:
Photo: Newly arrived migrant and refugee families with children at a shelter in Germany. - IOM

With an increasing number of migrant children reported missing in Europe, questions arise about the availability, coverage and reliability of data on children migrating to and through the European Union.

IOM’s Berlin-based Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) analyses the evidence base in its latest Data Briefing Issue 5, released today (2/9).

It is estimated that over 250,000 child migrants crossed irregularly into Italy and Greece in 2015. For Italy, of 16,500 child migrants, over 12,000 (72 percent) were unaccompanied. For Greece, no official distinction between accompanied and unaccompanied is made at entry for the purposes of data collection, although the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that at least 10 percent arrived without parents or guardians.

“Child migration into Europe is diverse and often invisible in data and policy. European States consider children as “accompanied” or “unaccompanied” differently. This not only affects the rights and entitlements they receive, but how they are counted in the data,” notes GMDAC Director, Dr. Frank Laczko.

The Briefing, written by Rachel Humphris and Dr. Nando Sigona of the University of Birmingham, UK, highlights the gap between available data and public debate, showing the limitations in data collection and inconsistencies in terminology. Although in some cases data are collected daily on arrival in Greece and Italy, there is a lack of detail.

“When children are identified as “accompanied”, the data are not disaggregated by age or gender. Children remain invisible in the figures and the true numbers are unknown,” note Humphris and Sigona.

According to the researchers, not only are there gaps in data coverage, but also children are “double-counted”. This occurs when different recording mechanisms aggregate, rather than consolidate, their data.
Most attention has focused on the number of “missing” children. The briefing shows that children can be counted in more than one jurisdiction and may be recorded as “missing” at various points throughout their journey. “This double-counting is an important consideration when mapping child migration,” note Humphris and Sigona.

In order to strengthen the evidence base, improvements to the data collection systems at national levels are needed. Implementation of international guidelines and common definitions is also essential. Age and gender should be disaggregated for children arriving at the European Union’s southern borders, in all transit countries, and for all dependents in asylum claims, in order to be able to better understand the complexities of children’s safe migration in Europe.

Further areas of concern include: the absence of data on children with disabilities on the move; partial coverage of family reunification; and deficiencies in data on detention and return, particularly of those who were unaccompanied minors and then reach 18 years of age.

To download the report, please click HERE.

For further information please contact Sabine Schneider at IOM GMDAC in Berlin, Tel: +49.3027877817,