Be Heard on World Humanitarian Day

By William Lacy Swing
IOM Director General

Last week I delivered an address at Oxford University.  Following the ceremony, a student approached me with a smile. “I know all about IOM,” she shared. “I’ve been following your #MigrationMeans campaign on Twitter.”

Sometimes it takes a simple tap on the shoulder to spot the revolution taking place all around us. Thus it is with #MigrationMeans, a social media campaign that’s really captured the spirit of our global organization and handed to each and every mission (and Twitter user) the opportunity to express what migration means to them.

The campaign has already reached over 86,000 people and brought more than 3,000 new social media followers to IOM.

Now we want to spread the message further by using #MigrationMeans to support World Humanitarian Day on August 19. But rather than wait until the day itself, I’m asking all IOM staff to click on this link right away and follow easy instructions on how to join the campaign. If enough people participate in the next two and a half weeks, on the 19th of August, the message “#MigrationMeans a lifeline for displaced people in humanitarian emergencies #WHD2014” will be sent to tens of thousands of people via social media. This will help more and more people understand the complex, lifesaving nature of our work.

The campaign has already surfaced all sorts of fascinating insights into IOM’s work in the field. I especially like the slightly out of focus photos from Nairobi showing children from Kakuma Refugee camp  with the simple hand-written message of ”#MigrationMeans survival.”  There is also a photo of a beach from IOM Ireland with the words “#MigrationMeans New Shores” written in the sand. Then there’s the intriguing “selfie” of a migrant on the roof of a train somewhere in Central America. And then there’s the heart wrenching photo of a young Haitian woman in a camp holding up a sign in creole that reads  “#MigrationMeans Lekol Pou Timoun Yo (school for the children).” There’s also the photo from our archives, posted by our friends at the US Association for International Migration that shows a Vietnamese family tagging luggage to make sure it did not get lost on the way to the US.

Such photos showcasing our work and the lives of those we assist are important to the understanding of  migration across the globe.

So once again I’m asking all staff to enthusiastically support the #MigrationMeans campaign,  using an official IOM account or their own Facebook or Twitter accounts to raise a voice on behalf of the migrants for whom we work.