Delegation of the European Union 
to the United States

IOM 29th SCPF - Item 2 Statement by the Director General

Geneva, 26/10/2021 - 15:43, UNIQUE ID: 211026_7
Statements on behalf of the EU

Chair, Director General, Excellences and Distinguished Delegates,

I speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

We thank the Director-General for his statement and the update on current activities.

Allow me to welcome Ms Ugochi Daniels and Ms Amy Pope in their Deputy Director General positions, extend our best wishes and convey our commitment to actively working together.

We appreciate this opportunity to discuss IOM’s work and issues of importance in these challenging times still marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. We value our partnership with IOM in the development and implementation of comprehensive migration policies and support to people on the move and displaced people in vulnerable, especially life-threatening, situations.

While the impact of the pandemic will continue, creating new vulnerabilities, we are saddened by many new as well as protracted humanitarian crises.

We are deeply concerned about the recent developments in Afghanistan. The EU and its Member States stand by the Afghan people and remain committed to support them and address their urgent needs in the country and in neighbouring countries. The EU High-level Forum on providing
protection to Afghans at risk, which took place earlier this month, concluded with our even greater commitment to provide assistance to Afghans in need.

We have also demonstrated our greater commitment to enhancing the humanitarian response inside Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries with the wider Afghan Support Package worth around €1 billion for the Afghan people and neighbouring countries announced by President von der Leyen on 12 October.

We commend IOM’s staff for their commitment and dedication in providing support and response worldwide, often in remote and conflict-affected areas, with important challenges regarding access. The protection and the preservation of the humanitarian space must remain priorities. To this end, the full respect of humanitarian principles is crucial.

We appreciate IOM’s flexibility in adapting its activities to the new challenges. The rising and increasingly complex needs worldwide have highlighted very clearly the importance of a strong collective response, including the “One UN” approach. We therefore emphasize the need to continue strengthening cooperation and synergies within the UN family and beyond, in line with each and everyone’s respective core strengths and existing mandates.

We also recognise that as articulated by the United Nations Secretary-General, people on the move must be a part of the response and recovery in the post-COVID-19 reality, while respecting national
competences. The recently presented Common Agenda further accentuates the premise of leaving no one behind and enabling all to participate in society, as promised in the 2030 Agenda.

The extent of negative impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on human rights, democracy and the rule of law as well as socio-economic consequences is yet to fully emerge, but it has already deepened pre-existing inequalities. The EU and its Member States share the concern about the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on persons in vulnerable situations. We urge IOM to continue paying particular attention to address the needs of migrant women, children, victims of torture and trafficking and persons with disabilities, who are all disproportionately affected by the pandemic. We also strongly encourage IOM to strengthen resilience and leverage the potential of those left behind, in particular women.

We commend IOM for consistently advocating for the inclusion of people on the move in national vaccination plans, health responses and other services to mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic. Since December 2020, the EU has exported over 1 billion vaccine doses worldwide to 55 countries. With 3.2 billion EUR in pledges, the EU remains the main financial donor to COVAX, together with the US. We are also supporting the COVAX Humanitarian Buffer, which helps deliver vaccines to people in vulnerable situations who could not be reached through national vaccine deployment plans. However, more must be done to close the persistent vaccine gap. The European Union is committed to ensuring universal and equitable access to safe and
effective COVID-19 vaccines as part of a lasting solution to the pandemic. We are strongly committed to vaccine solidarity. No one is safe until everyone is safe.

We strongly believe that the impact of the pandemic will only be contained through a comprehensive global response. Under the ‘Team Europe’ approach, we have mobilized a package of over 46 billion EUR – combining resources and expertise from the European Commission, the Member States and the EU financial institutions – to address the emergency response and humanitarian needs, strengthen health, water/sanitation and nutrition systems and mitigate the economic and social impacts of the pandemic worldwide.

The EU and its Member States continue to pursue a comprehensive and whole of route approach to migration, addressing the need of assistance to people on the move and displaced persons in vulnerable, especially life-threatening, situations, as well as their host communities, building capacity for migration management, combating smuggling and trafficking, reinforcing border management and search and rescue cooperation, addressing legal migration while respecting national competences, ensuring effective return and readmission and tackling the root causes of irregular migration. We underline the importance of working together with our partners through comprehensive, tailor-made and mutually beneficial partnerships, based on common interests and commitments.

In recent months, we have seen attempts by States to exploit the vulnerability of human beings for political purposes. The instrumentalisation of migrants, including women and children, by States through hybrid attacks, the organised state-sponsored smuggling of migrants in order to exert pressure on the EU is utterly unacceptable and violates fundamental European values and principles and aims at abusing humanitarian principles. The EU and its Member States condemn any such attempts. We remain determined to protect the EU’s external borders and ensure an immediate and appropriate response in line with EU law and international obligations, including the fundamental rights.

The European Union and its Member States continue to support IOM as the lead UN agency on migration. We recognise IOM’s role in ensuring better coordination of migration-related work within the UN, notably as the coordinator and secretariat for the Migration Network. Comprehensive and balanced migration policies and partnerships built on norms, practises and joint commitments need to continue across the globe, taking into account the lessons learnt from the pandemic. We are looking forward to next year’s UN Secretary General report and subsequent discussions in Geneva and New York.

We consider IOM as an essential partner in pursuing a comprehensive approach to migration, at both strategic and operational levels. In particular, we recognise IOM’s capacity to support national and regional efforts towards development of better migration
regulations and policies, as well as focus on the challenges locally and address the root causes of irregular migration. It is key that we build on concrete lessons learnt and good practices achieved during the last years, including by building capacities in partner countries.

The EU and its Member States are providing significant support to IOM, including financially as the largest contributors to IOM's budget, collectively and individually. We call on other donors to continue supporting IOM in its endeavours and thus ensure that IOM is fit for purpose to deliver on its multiple responsibilities. But funding alone cannot address our common challenges successfully. We therefore call on all countries - of origin, transit and destination - to also live up to their political commitments to this end, including by addressing the root causes of irregular migration and upholding the human rights of migrants.

During the last years, the partnership between the EU, its Member States and IOM has strengthened even further, and we will continue to contribute to the agenda of the organisation. We welcome the continued efforts by the administration with regards to its reform agenda with the aim of making IOM more fit for purpose, strengthening the core structure and creating increased synergies between the operational and the strategic level, underpinned by improved knowledge management and improved capacities to support forward looking anticipatory action. We encourage IOM to continue ensuring full transparency, integrity, robust monitoring and reporting
as well as oversight. At the same time, we reiterate our zero tolerance approach to sexual exploitation and abuse.

The EU and its Member States will continue to support IOM in its important work.

Thank you.

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