Be aware: the International Organisation 
for Migration is haunting

It has been only recently, that the International Organisation for
Migration has opened a representation in the UK. After having tried a
pilot project to return refused asylum seekers from the UK, at that time
based at the Brussels office, this has been assessed 'successful' after
490 people have been flown out of the country. Consequently, a
full-scale operation has been launched. The Home Office increasingly
turn to outsourcing elements of their politics, such as running
detention by private businesses. There also is a tradition of funding
NGOs like the Refugee Council to cover some aspects of asylum and
immigration policy. Meanwhile, the IOM has quickly established a number
of schemes and cooperations. These are the Voluntary Assisted Return
Programme (VARP), Return and Reintegration to Somalia Regions, Return
and Reintegration of Qualified Ugandan Nationals, and Counter
Trafficking. The IOM also accommodate Home Office seminars in countries
as far as Kasachstan, Kirgisian or Tadjikistan on topics like preventing
'illegal' migration, or fraudulent documents. All these schemes rely on
the cooperation either with academics, with NGOs like refugee Action or
of cause the Home Office. Some of these have a record of either
supporting asylum seekers and refugees as Refugee Action does, or to
lobby around issues of women's rights. At a first glance one might
assume, that these programmes, supporting victims of female trafficking,
assisting those returning home who lack the funds to realise this are
perfectly alright. Though that isn’t quite true. Indeed, only, last year
the Roma National Congress released an international call for solidarity
accusing this organisation to be the enemy of the Roma people because it
plays a crucial role in expelling the Roma people from Western Europe.
That shall ring the alarm bells and calls for a closer look at the IOM,
its history, politics and policies.

It has been founded in 1951 on initiative of the USA as another
expression of the cold war and the Truman doctrine. Under its initial
name (Provisional) Inter-Governmental Committee on Migration in Europe
it was founded as a counter agency to the UNHCR, the ICME in opposite to
the humanitarian principles of the UNHCR has been based upon economic
considerations. Other than the UN, which is based on international law
and agreements the ICME/IOM is a membership organisation. It is
therefore not accountable to any democratically elected body but to its
members and only these define its politics. It is therefore in the words
of Tony Bunyan ‘a very dangerous organisation’. Since 1989, the IOM has
been transformed into a transnational agency for the global management
of migration for the sake of economics and the New Order. Its individual
programmes are embedded in a wider approach of migration management that
is deeply based upon neoliberal ideology which makes an economically
founded distinction between desirable and undesirable migration.
The IOM has rapidly extended its influence by opening 19 regional
offices, over 100 field offices, a number of other agencies like the
Technical Cooperation Centre in Vienna and several temporary
representation. They basically cover the whole world. Since their
founding, they have interfered in the lives of more than 11 million
people, and in 2000 alone their facilitated the movement of about
450.000 people. For this purpose the IOM negotiated a 60 % discount for
their flights with many airlines, which has turned into a huge business.
A campaigning leaflet indeed accuses them being the world’s largest
‘human trafficker’. From experiences in Germany, where they facilitated
the return of 75.000 people in 2000 it is known that despite the fact
that the IOM claims to only support voluntary returns these are often
nothing else than removals or disguised deportations, often of rejected
asylum seekers who therefore have been deprived of all benefits leaving
them destitute and desperate enough to sign an agreement with the IOM.
And equally, its over 100 missions, described as an ‘early warning
system on migration’ rather represent a global net of spies against
migrants and their supporters. These posts are aimed to detect migration
routes and patterns, to give advice to governments alike and to train
border troops on new technologies. Their information campaigns and
seminars run in places such as Sangatte, Macedonia or Aserbeidjan, they
target professionals or migrants, they are often disguised as measures
to prevent women trafficking though the overall aim basically is to
discourage further migration.

There is ground to deeply mistrust the International Organisation for
Migration and one has to be very careful to cooperate with such an
agency, the Roma National Congress has already expressed its grave
concerns about the IOM, the Campaign to Compensate Victims of Nazi Slave
Work’ has equally expressed its criticism about the IOM’s responsibility
in delaying the payment; the Polish prostitutes organisation La Strada
already terminated its initial cooperation with the IOM, and activists
in Poland and Ukraine are angry about the IOM’s role in implementing new
border regimes. It would indeed be advisable to any honest NGO to
terminate any collaboration.

Finally, the European NoBorder network has agreed in campaigning
‘Against the global migration regime – for freedom of movement’ with a
focus on the IOM and calls for an International Day of Action between 11
to 13 October. Protests are already planned in several countries.
No Border (For further information or to contact the campaign: