Use migration as ‘development tool’, UN agency chief saysTue, 10 Oct 2023 15:29:41 GMT

The new head of the International Organization for Migration on Tuesday called for migration to be no longer treated as a problem but “a tool to unlock human potential to advance economic development”.Amy Pope, the first woman elected to lead the IOM, chose Ethiopia, home to the African Union and nearly 4.4 million displaced people, for her first official visit.With Africa facing conflict, poverty and uneven development as well as the impact of climate change on vulnerable communities, the continent is a priority for the agency, she told a press conference.The IOM, founded in 1951 to handle displacement in Europe after World War II, today offers “particular protections for refugees — people who are fleeing because of their affiliation or participation in a particular social group, or because of their background, their race, their gender,” she said.”But increasingly, and what we’re seeing, including in Ethiopia, is that most people are migrating because of economic necessity.””If you’re starving, you’re no less worthy of a solution than someone who’s being persecuted,” she added.”So the first question is how do we ensure appropriate protections for people… on the move, even if they will not fall into the refugee definition?”The Geneva-based IOM is the leading international body addressing the needs of hundreds of millions of migrants throughout the world.”Too often we talk about migration just as a problem that has to be solved,” Pope said.”We focus just on human suffering… on border management, but really the goal here is to identify how we use migration as a tool to unlock human potential to advance economic development.”As global numbers of migrants soar, she urged countries to open “regular pathways for people to be connected to opportunity” and avoid abuses and exploitation.Pope noted that in Africa more than 80 percent of migration takes place within the continent.She said she wanted to engage with the African Union “to build out better ways for migrants to move, but also then to enable better economic integration”.Human Rights Watch has accused Saudi Arabian border guards of killing hundreds of Ethiopian migrants trying to enter the kingdom between March 2022 and June 2023. Riyadh has denied the accusations.