Since the emergence of the migrant crisis in 2015, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has taken a prominent role in world affairs said Sarah Carl, Program Officer (Social Cohesion and Reconciliation) of the IOM, delivering a guest lecture on 3rd September 2019 at the BIDTI.
Introducing the guest speaker, the Director General of the BIDTI stated that the IOM played a crucial role during the Kuwait Invasion in 1990 by repatriating migrant workers from the Middle East. A large number of Sri Lankans working in Kuwait and subsequently stranded in Jordan were safely returned to Sri Lanka through special flights organised by the IOM.
Shedding light on the agency, Carl mentioned that it has an increased presence in the world as a specialised agency for migration, which ensures safe, orderly and humane management of migration by providing guidance and assistance to governments and migrants. Founded in 1951, the Inter-governmental Organisation became a member of the United Nations in 2016.
Under the guidance of the IOM constitution, it works to guarantee that people affected by natural disasters or man-made disasters have access to protection and assistance. Thus, protecting vulnerable migrants from neglect, abuse, and exploitation is crucial.
The IOM plays an active role in promoting international cooperation on migration issues and helps in the search for practical solutions to migration problems. It provides humanitarian assistance to migrants in need including refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. The agency works in four areas of migration management: migration and development, facilitating migration, regulating migration and forced migration.
In Sri Lanka, the agency works with the government to strengthen policies that ensure safe and orderly migration. In addition, it assists in refugee resettlement and provide support to stranded migrants in their return home and providing shelter, food, and sanitation. Other works include support for immigration and border control; detecting human trafficking and terrorist infiltration along with migrant assistance, regarding visa and health assessments. The IOM puts extensive effort into policy and research to determine migration patterns, thus enabling relevant and effective policies.
Ms. Carl also commended Sri Lanka for recently implementing health screening for migrants after migrating into Sri Lanka. It is very “Revolutionary” and “Forward-thinking” when considering the human dignity of the migrants within the country. In addition, it is an effective way of safeguarding both migrants and the citizens of the country from harmful and eradicated diseases.