World Must Resolve Irregular Migration “Conundrum,” IOM DG Tells SE Asia Conference


Director General William Lacy Swing interviewed by CNN's Saima Mohsin at today's regional conference on irregular migration in Bangkok. © IOM 2015

Thailand – IOM Director General William Lacy Swing has challenged the global community to “conjugate the conundrum” of effective border management and
large-scale migration.

Speaking at a regional conference on irregular migration in the Indian Ocean region in Bangkok today, Ambassador Swing called for continuing dialogue on population movements in the region. He referred to the dramatic events of recent weeks which had crystalized world attention “on the urgency of developing responsible and humane responses to the complex migratory flows across the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, and elsewhere.”

The meeting was called by the Thai government, to address the humanitarian situation, combat smuggling and trafficking, and address the root causes, including poverty and social unrest, which drive migration.

Irregular migrants in today’s world face a “perfect storm,” noted Ambassador Swing. It consists of unprecedented human mobility, rising forced migration, humanitarian crises and anti-migrant sentiment.

He welcomed the aims of the meeting, which attracted 20 governments and several international agencies. He also pledged a further USD 1 million to help in the ongoing humanitarian and diplomatic response, and suggested that a process be initiated to build on momentum generated by today’s event.

Meanwhile, IOM continues to provide assistance to close to 2,000 migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar, the majority of whom are living in hastily established camps in Indonesia’s Aceh province.

Many of the migrants are Bangladeshis, who left their homes seeking work in Malaysia. They will be able to avail of IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programme, which allows migrants to avail of a dignified return home.

Earlier this week IOM issued an appeal for USD 26 million to cover the urgent humanitarian needs of the migrants living in temporary shelters, as well as for psychosocial assistance and return home where possible.

For further information, please contact Jeff Labovitz at IOM Thailand, Email: jlabovitz@iom.int, Tel. or Joe Lowry at IOM’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Tel.: +66.81 870 8081, Email: jlowry@iom.int.