From the Regional Director, May 2018

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Summer is approaching and our thoughts turn to journeys. Those of us in the global north might think about three weeks on Europe’s sunny beaches, sampling food and culture different to our own, before coming home with souvenirs and memories to share with families, friends and Facebook.

The warmer temperatures and calmer seas also make summertime a time of increased migration, when Europe’s beaches can become a mass graveyard for desperate migrants from the global south.  The huge numbers that we saw passing through South-Eastern Europe three years ago have, thankfully, diminished and the same is true for the Central Mediterranean route.

The spotlight may have moved on, but tens of thousands of people are stuck in the middle of the journeys they hoped to make. This challenges IOM as we have several different - and sometimes colliding - roles and responsibilities in the midst of population movements. New routes are opening, and our Missions across the region are responding on a daily basis.

On the 28th of March, jointly with IOM’s Headquarters, our Regional Office organised a unique event at the UN Vienna headquarters with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to promote the Joint Platform to Counter Migrant Smuggling. Member states and partners gave us strong support for an initiative which will, over time, protect migrants from the criminal gangs that prey on their desperation.  Too many lives are being lost, and too much suffering is being endured. We need more action.   

Argentina Szabados

Director, Regional Office for South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia,

Mission to the UN and other International Organizations in Vienna