Current Affairs


International Organization for Migration


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Why in News?

  • A surge of desperate migrants from the Middle East and Africa has put unprecedented pressure on EU countries, especially Italy, Greece and Hungary.
  • The conflicts raging in Syria and Afghanistan, and abuses in Eritrea, are major drivers of the migration.
  • More than 2,600 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean this year, trying to reach Greece or Italy, the IOM says.

International Organization for Migration

  • The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is an intergovernmental organization. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II.
  • As of April 2015, the International Organization for Migration has 157 member states and 10 observer states

IOM works in the four broad areas of migration management:

  1. Migration and development
  2. Facilitating migration
  3. Regulating migration
  4. Forced migration.

IOM activities that cut across these areas include the promotion of international migration law, policy debate and guidance, protection of migrants’ rights, migration health and the gender dimension of migration.






According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 3,50,000 migrants and refugees have tried to cross the Mediterranean sea into Europe.

Most of them are from West Asia, particularly from the war-ravaged countries of Syria, Iraq and Libya; many are also from the disturbed areas of Africa.

According to the the IOM statistics, a substantial number of refugees are also from Afghanistan and Pakistan, moving for reasons similar to their West Asian counterparts — Afghanistan is caught in an unending civil conflict and Pakistan’s socio-economic condition is continuously deteriorating.

This is what makes people flee their own countries to other parts of the world, in search of peace, employment and stability.

Europe is the most preferred destination for the people from these fragile regions as it is economically prosperous, socially secure and has better immigration laws.

Endless conflict has ruined the social, political and economical structures of some countries in West Asia, making it impossible for people to have a secure livelihood.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

 The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), also known as the UN Refugee Agency, is a United Nations agency mandated to protect and support refugees at the request of a government or the UN itself and assists in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.

  • Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland and is a member of the United Nations Development Group. The UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace Prizes, once in 1954 and again in 1981
  • UNHCR was established on 14 December 1950 and succeeded the earlier United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.
  • The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.
  • It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seekasylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country.


  1. The war is not getting any better. That has the dual effect of prompting more Syrians to leave their country and causing Syrians in exile in Turkey to give up hope of returning home.
  2. Turkey is not a country for people to stay in the long-term. It has been more receptive than most, taking in about 2 million Syrian refugees. But Syrians don’t have the right to work there legally, so it is not a place to settle.Also, the recent electoral setbacks for the AKP party, perceived as being most in favour of helping Syrian refugees, has made many Syrians nervous about Turkey’s political future.
  3. N. bodies working with millions of refugees in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon are complaining that they are running out of money, making camp conditions harsher and life more untenable for Syrians who live on their own but still depend on U.N. subsidies.The UNHCR reports that its appeals for cash are underfunded. The rich world has given to UNHCR funds almost 40 per cent short of what it needs. And these figures are just for the Syria region. In Eastern Europe, a conduit for thousands of refugees seeking respite in Europe, the finances are even more damning. A UNHCR request for £14 million to deal with the specific problems of conduit countries like Italy, Hungary and Bosnia has only reached 9 per cent of the target.
  4. That people have finally saved up enough money. It is expensive to pay for your family to cross to Greece and then work your way up through Europe. Depending on how many smugglers you use, every individual might spend about $3,000 to get to Germany.
  5. There is now a known route. People have long trekked through the Balkans to the EU, but Syrians did not use to be among them. That changed late last summer, when the first few Syrians found the Balkan route to Europe.
  6. The crisis is only a crisis because of the European response to it. EU countries have spent all year debating and procrastinating about an appropriate solution to Europe’s biggest refugee movement since the World War II.
  7. Europe may be quailing at the numbers trying to get in, but it is as nothing compared to the numbers that Syria’s neighbours have been dealing with.

As the recent refugee crisis grows, the World has seen biggest movement of people to Europe since Second World War. What is role of International Organization for Migration AND The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in this regard. Discuss.

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