Global Issues: Austria & Czech Republic/Case Reports/IOM

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The IOM, and its Prague, Czech Republic Office

The International Organization for Migration was established in 1951 as an inter-governmental organization for migration management. The IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental organizations to facilitate the migration of people to, from, and within countries all over the world. The headquarters for the main office of the IOM is in Geneva, Switzerland.

The IOM consists of 127 member states, with 17 other states holding observer status. Its mission, as quoted from the IOM website, is “to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.”

In effect, the IOM is much like a consulting agency that other organizations, whether governments or NGOs, can hire to manage migration issues. The services provided by the IOM to these various agencies are given in the form of research and reports, administrative services, and fieldwork by over 7,000 employees at 450 field locations worldwide.

The IOM is working on migration projects numbering over 2,360 at present, with expenditures of over $1 billion in 2009. Over 97% of the funding for the IOM and its projects comes from voluntary contributors, and the remaining 3% from member state contributions for the administrative budget. The IOM has the lowest rate of costs for administrative support among all the international organizations, charging only 5% of the total cost of its projects to help cover its indirect costs.

The IOM office in Prague, Czech Republic is one of over 100 offices located worldwide that house the administration of the IOM. Each independent office of the IOM operates under the jurisdiction of the country in which it is housed, allowing for a decentralized, yet incorporative, relationship between all IOM offices, while at the same time allowing each office to deal with issues related to specific regions. The office in Prague has only ten staff, but oversees all the migration issues in the Czech Republic while working closely with the Czech Ministry of the Interior and other Czech institutions for migration.

The Prague office helps 300-400 people yearly who were in the Czech Republic to return to their home countries by bypassing the normal administrative delays associated with migration. Various other institutions within the Czech Republic help facilitate this, including the Ministry of the Interior, the Department of Asylum and Migration Policies, the Alien and Border Police Headquarters, the Refugee Facilities Administration of the Ministry of the Interior, and a number of airline carriers. The IOM brings the resources of all these agencies together to help people within the Czech Republic return without delay to their countries of origin.

Other projects of the IOM, Prague office include:

-Development through migration by strengthening the links between properly managed migration and growth for origin and destination countries. This includes community development and economic development, as well as the integration of qualified migrants into highly skilled jobs that will lead to sustainable development. This also includes actively advocating for new policy to decrease the number of illegal job-holders in the Czech Republic in favor of placing qualified migrants into jobs that will both benefit the migrants and Czech society as a whole.

-Integration of new immigrants to the Czech Republic via an information website in 5 languages: English, Russian, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, and Czech. Newcomers to the Czech Republic can access the site for information about living in their new country, including residential directories, resources for healthcare and education, employment opportunities, how to acquire citizenship, and directories to governmental and non-governmental organizations.

-The prevention and combating of trafficking in human beings in the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is an origin, destination, and transit country for human trafficking, and since the year 2000, the IOM has worked closely with the Ministry of the Interior to research, discuss, and spread information about the problem. Numerous reports on trafficking in the Czech Republic have been published by the IOM, Prague office, and can be accessed through their website or the website of the Czech Ministry of the Interior.