UN migration agency seeks $7.9 billion to help people on the move and the communities that host them

GENEVA — The UN migration agency launches its first ‘global appeal’ seeking $7.9 billion to help people get started and ensure smoother pathways to migration, at a time when the impacts of climate change, conflict and both economic challenges and opportunities have caused millions of people to leave their homes.

The International Organization for Migration’s annual appeal intensifies the Geneva-based agency’s hunt for aid funds, along with other U.N. agencies and humanitarian groups, at a time when many top donor governments are facing tight budgets or cutting aid spending.

The UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, last month denounced a “severe and ominous funding crisis” and said that the total $57 billion appeal from his UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs last year only covered about a third was funded, making it the largest funding gap in years. His agency is seeking $46 billion this year.

IOM says it hopes that funding for its appeal will come from individual and private sector donors in addition to governments.

It is part of a five-year strategic plan under IOM’s new Director-General, Amy Pope, and would benefit 140 million people – both migrants and the communities that host them.

“Irregular and forced migration has reached unprecedented levels and the challenges we face are becoming increasingly complex,” Pope said. “The evidence is overwhelming that migration, when properly managed, makes an important contribution to global prosperity and progress.”

Speaking to reporters in Geneva on Monday, she said agencies like hers need to plan for future migration, rather than simply respond to waves of migration as they occur.

“The evidence shows that just being reactive means more people die and are exploited as they migrate. This call will allow us to save more lives and work together more responsibly,” she said.

Delivering on the promise of migration, the agency reports that approximately 281 million international migrants, ranging from blue-collar to white-collar workers, generate nearly 10% of global economic output.

Sometimes desperate migrants make dangerous journeys to achieve greater freedom, escape poverty or look for work. IOM’s ‘Missing Migrants’ project estimates that at least 60,000 people have died or disappeared during dangerous journeys over the past nine years, such as crossing from North Africa – mainly Libya – across the Mediterranean to Europe.