About the Regional Office for South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia

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Geographical Coverage:

IOM has offices in 19 out of 20 SEEECA countries and territories, including sub-regional offices in Central Asia and the Western Balkans. 

  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Georgia
  • Israel
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Russian Federation
  • Serbia
  • The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • UNSC resolution 1244-administered Kosovo
  • Uzbekistan

IOM has been active in South-Eastern, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (SEEECA) from the early 1990s. During that time, many countries in the region were experiencing complex mix of migration and displacement challenges resulting from huge geo-political changes.

Three decades on we give comprehensive support to governments in refining their policies, frameworks and practical mechanisms for migration management at national and multilateral levels, and ensuring protection and assistance to migrants in need. IOM aims to bring the extensive migration management expertise of the organization closer to all its beneficiaries and the Member States it serves.

The IOM Regional Office (RO), established in Vienna in 2011, supports further improvement in quality and diversification of programmatic activities at the country level, promotes regional initiatives, and facilitates better support to interstate dialogue and cooperation. RO Vienna is responsible for project review and endorsement, policy development, and for formulating regional migration strategies. This is done in partnership with governments, development partners and civil society organizations within the region. The Regional Office employs technical experts in project development and thematic fields of migration management, including Migrant Assistance, Labour Migration and Human Development, Immigration and Border Management, Operations and Emergencies, as well as Migration Health.

It also deals with various cross-cutting issues and provides support in the field of resource management, media and communications.

The Regional Office is the IOM Mission to the UN and other International Organizations in Vienna, and is responsible for the global liaison with the UN Office in Vienna, one of the four UN headquarters locations worldwide. UN organizations based in Vienna include the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Vienna is also home to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), and the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA) nearby in Laxenburg.

1995. Khorog, Tajikistan
A Tajik IDP rides in an IOM convoy to the capital Dushanbe. During and following the Tajik civil war of 1992-1997, IOM Tajikistan assisted the government of Tajikistan to return over 85,000 Tajik refugees from Afghanistan and other neighbouring countries, and also facilitated the return of 65,000 internally displaced Tajiks to their home communities.

SEEECA lies at the cross-roads of significant migratory routes from, within and throughout the region. Migration has had a great impact not only on the economies of states, but on societies and individuals as well. While most flows are primarily driven by labour and economy, other drivers include environmental degradation, recurrent natural disasters, and political and conflict-related instability.

Many states in SEEECA have been traditional countries of origin. However, patterns of movement have diversified over time, making most SEEECA countries today, to varying extents, countries of origin, transit and destination. IOM established a formal presence in the region in 1991, working in the newly independent states following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. A series of political upheavals in the 1990s sent shockwaves across the region, spurring the migration of millions in the context of war, economic collapse, income inequalities, ethnic renationalization, border disputes, and an overall atmosphere of flux. Newly independent states faced massive political, social and economic challenges in reconciling territories, national identities, and in the abrupt creation of dozens of diasporas.

The consequences of wars in the former Yugoslavia, Tajikistan, and the Caucasus sent scores of IDPs and refugees from their homes, having lasting effects on communities to this day.

The region hosts over 4.5 million internally displaced persons, 3.7 million of which are a result of conflict or violence. Many are unable to return to the number of frozen conflict zones in the region. Internal displacement has largely maintained a figure above 2.3 million persons since 2009, rising to its highest point at the end of 2016. Recent conflicts, most notably in Ukraine, have further increased the number of IDPs in the region, accounting for an estimated 1.7 million.

While 63 per cent of migration is intra-regional, SEEECA also receives regular and irregular migrants from other parts of the world, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, South and South-East Asia.

The countries of the Western Balkan region experienced a drastic change in migratory patterns and daily life when the flow of extra-regional migrants along the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkan route grew from a trickle in 2011 to become one of the most crowded migration routes into the European Union. This was mainly due to the war in Syria, and the sharp increase in numbers of migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees transiting through states had the largest effect in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in Serbia.

Mixed-migration flows reduced significantly after major policy shifts in 2016 closed the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans route. However, the route closure has already led to an increase in irregular migration, and the situation remains volatile. The latest data show that over 75,000 migrants are currently stranded in the Western Balkans and Greece.

Outward migration from the region, especially from the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe, is directed primarily towards the European Union (EU). This is facilitated by on-going approximation and accession processes between these countries and the EU. Many of the region’s migrants originate from within SEEECA itself, making intra-regional migration a significant phenomenon. Freedom of movement within the region is high, and most States enjoy visa-free regimes with one another.

Russia is the top destination country in the region, as well as the third top destination country globally, with a migrant population estimated at 11 million. Following the global economic downturn and sharp devaluation of the Russian ruble in 2014, remittance-dependent countries in the region saw household wealth decrease as remittance values plummeted. Economic stagnation and instability, in combination with harsher legislation on labour migration known as the Russian “re-entry ban” has significantly slowed labour migration. By January 2016, some two million migrants from Central Asian States alone received short and long-term bans. This has spurred massive return migration to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, straining already sluggish local job markets. Consequently, Kazakhstan has emerged as an alternate destination for migrant workers, although economic shocks in the oil industry have severely affected growth. See: Effects of regional policy on migrants and their families in Central Asia

For a comprehensive regional profile of migration in the SEEECA region, see the following publications:

Argentina Szabados

Ms. Argentina Szabados took over the position of Regional Director for South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia in May 2016.

Ms. Szabados oversees the work of IOM Offices in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia manages the activities of the Regional Office in Vienna. She leads the formulation of regional strategies, processes and programmes, ensuring that these are in line with overall IOM policy and priorities, and facilitates communication and coordination within the region.

She provides advice to IOM Headquarters on regional migration, migration trends and policy matters as well as migration policies of governments within the region. She is responsible for developing and maintaining external relations and high-level liaison with governmental authorities and diplomatic missions in the region, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and voluntary agencies, regional consultative processes, and other relevant stakeholders, providing support to the IOM country offices for their work with their counterparts.

Ms. Szabados represents IOM at the United Nations Office in Vienna and is responsible for global liaison with the Vienna-based organizations, such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Prior to assuming her post in Vienna, she headed the IOM Mission in Germany from 2010 to 2016. In that capacity, Ms. Szabados was responsible for promotion and strengthening of IOM relations with key governmental counterparts at Federal and State level, international organizations, civil society representatives and the private sector. Other duties included fundraising for the organization, advancing the understanding of migration issues, and assisting in meeting the operational challenges of migration management in Germany.

Ms. Szabados joined IOM in 1998 as Chief of Mission in Hungary. She continued as the Regional Director of the IOM Regional Office in Budapest until 2010, where she was responsible for the coordination of 14 IOM missions in Central and South Eastern Europe.

Ms. Szabados came to IOM from a career with the World Council of Churches where between 1989 and 1998 she led Emergency Programmes covering the conflicts in former Yugoslavia, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. She has received numerous national and international awards, and has written and contributed to many publications and studies on migration and humanitarian aid topics. Since 2007 she has been a senior lecturer at Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs in New York City. Additionally, she has chaired many committees and boards for the Institute, and has sat on the Board of Directors of the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation, also in New York.

IOM’s overall goal in SEEECA is to promote good migration governance, which, if achieved, supports humane and orderly migration which benefits migrants and society.

IOM’s strategic objectives in SEEECA are to provide comprehensive support to States in managing migration in a coherent, humane and balanced manner; to provide effective protection and assistance to migrants; to enhance the understanding of good migration governance within the international community at large, the private sector, civil society and other partners. IOM carries out a comprehensive range of activities in SEEECA in pursuit of these objectives. These activities fall in the fields of policy, research, legislation and programmatic support.

Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF)

Migration is a complex and broad field of work. As such, there is no single convention or framework that presents a comprehensive, concise and practical approach to migration governance. IOM's MiGOF sets out a structure in which States and IOM can work together to address migration issues. The framework presents the ideal version of migration governance, to which states can aspire, and for which IOM can provide support and assistance, it offers a concise view of an ideal approach that allows a state to determine what it might need to govern migration well and in a way that fits its circumstances.

The MiGOF is comprised of three principles and three objectives:

  • Principle 1: Good migration governance would require adherence to international standards and the fulfilment of migrants' rights
  • Principle 2: Migration and related policies are best formulated using evidence and whole of government approaches
  • Principle 3: Good migration governance relies on strong partnerships.
  • Objective 1: Good migration governance and related policy should seek to advance the socioeconomic well-being of migrants and society
  • Objective 2: Good migration governance is based on effective responses to the mobility dimensions of crises
  • Objective 3: Migration should take place in a safe, orderly and dignified manner.

The MiGOF guides IOM's work in capacity-building, policy advisement, and in project development. The Framework is used for mapping and reporting on how IOM contributes to migration governance, with a focus on measurable and concrete results.

Resources

Resource Management plays a significant role in the overall strategic development of the Organization. The Regional Resource Management Unit creates and ensures the successful implementation of policies towards financial and human resources management within the region. The management of financial, human and IT resources are the key areas of operations.

Administration

The RM unit oversees the general operations of the Regional Office and Country Offices by providing first-line support, guidance and training. It has the overall responsibility of ensuring that missions comply with IOM policies, including staffing and financial regulations. It provides guidance on administrative procedures and ensures that Country Offices are informed and kept up-to-date with key administrative, budgetary and financial issues.

Budget, Accounting and Treasury

The unit provides guidance to country offices on accounting and administrative issues and procedures, and makes periodic visits within the region to assist as needed with matters including accounting and staffing. It has oversight of the financial sustainability of missions in the region, maintains financial and budgetary control, and guides the country offices on budget-related policies and procedures. Guidance on treasury-related policies and procedures also falls under the unit’s remit.

Human Resources

In the area of human resources, the SEEECA RM team gives strategic oversight and direction for human resource management and administration in the region. We procure, train and maintain a qualified workforce to achieve IOM’s goals, including provision of statistics on gender balance. This all involves consultation on HR policies and procedures, such as recruitment and contracting, conflict resolution, staff welfare and entitlements.

Procurement

In this domain, the Unit supports Country Offices on procurement-related policies and procedures, including changes in practices or required documentation. Our staff carries out procurement in the Regional Office, adhering to IOM’s established Procurement Policy.

Staff Travel

When RO staff need to travel the RM unit books flights for them in accordance with IOM’s travel policy. It provides safety and security information on the region or country where travel will take place, and institutions one can contact in cases of need or emergency. The unit also gives information and support on travel expense claims and allowances.

Security

The SEEECA RM unit addresses safety and security management of IOM personnel, facilities and assets in the Regional Office, and provides safety and security oversight in Country Offices within the region, in coordination with the relevant UN units and IOM’s Safety and Security Unit. It oversees the establishment and regular update of business continuity plans in the Regional and Country Offices.

IT

The RM team is responsible for the administration and provision of IT support, such as providing updates on the availability of new features.

 

Last data update: December 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

The regional office has a dedicated unit that provides support to missions in project development, and monitoring and evaluation, to ensure high quality standards through all programming. The unit also works with cross-cutting themes such as gender and human rights, ensuring they are incorporated into our initiatives.

Project Development and Implementation

The RO conducts training and provides guidance to project developers and managers in Country Offices, guiding staff through the project cycle: from conceptualization and proposal development, to management, reporting, monitoring and evaluation. This is streamlined in accordance with the IOM Project Handbook. The RO also promotes the integration of lessons learned to support development of future interventions and project development plans.

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)

M&E work in IOM is guided by its central Evaluation Office under the Office of the Inspector General. As a part of the United Nations Evaluation Group, IOM has agreed upon common norms, standards, and ethical guidelines in conducting evaluations. The Regional Office provides support to Country Offices in the area of monitoring and evaluation by overseeing M&E aspects of IOM activities, programmes and projects and assisting in their effective implementation; supporting results-based management (RBM) through linking projects to regional and global strategies, in particular IOM’s Migration Governance Framework and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Operating Framework

IOM's Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF) sets out a structure in which States and IOM can work together to address migration issues. It seeks to present, in a consolidated, coherent and comprehensive way, a set of principles and objectives which, if respected and fulfilled, would ensure that migration is humane, orderly, and benefits migrants and society.