Department of Operations and Emergencies

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Over the past decade, IOM has emerged as one of the world’s largest humanitarian actors, with huge relief operations underway in virtually every major humanitarian setting. We respond to forced migration and large-scale population movements, including protracted internal and cross-border displacement and refugee situations. Within the Organization’s structure, these activities fall under the remit of the Department of Operations and Emergencies (DOE).

In addition, DOE oversees individual specialized projects related to humanitarian principles, protection mainstreaming, prevention of violent extremism and prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation.

IOM’s emergency, post-conflict and recovery activities focus on the needs of individuals and uprooted communities, thereby contributing to their protection. They are addressed in all phases of IOM’s Migration Crisis Operational Framework (MCOF): pre-crisis preparedness, emergency response and post-crisis recovery.

The region covered by IOM’s Vienna Region Office is, mainly, made up of countries which are economically and institutionally able to respond to emergencies. However, the ongoing conflicts and violence within and near the region (Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq) underline the need to provide emergency assistance, as well as durable and sustainable solutions, for conflict-affected populations. There are also several frozen conflicts in the region which have left people displaced for many years. Much of the region is prone to rapid-onset natural disasters such as flash floods, as well as slow-onset disasters related to climate change, such as protracted droughts, harsher winters, desertification and even technical disasters. All these serve to make preparedness, disaster risk-reduction and community stabilization measures essential.

An overview of our activities is available here.

In recent years, humanitarian efforts in the RO Vienna region have concentrated on assistance to displaced populations in Ukraine, to Syrian refugees hosted in Turkey and, via IOM Turkey, to displaced populations in Syria.

Emergency Response and Preparedness

IOM Turkey has worked to respond quickly and effectively to the humanitarian and migration crisis in the Mediterranean as well as along its border with Syria. Since IOM's Syrian emergency preparedness, response, and recovery programs began in 2012, IOM Turkey has assisted over 177,000 Syrians living in Turkey. See IOM Turkey for the latest Mediterranean and Syrian Response figures.

In Ukraine, IOM reports more than 1.5 million IDPs, with many in need of urgent and basic humanitarian assistance as well as longer-term support with healthcare, jobs and housing.

Turkey is now one of the largest refugee-hosting countries in the world, with some 3 million Syrians on its territory. IOM provides winterization support, delivery of non-food items such as hygiene kits and household supplies, food distribution, psychosocial support, cash assistance, transportation and basic healthcare.

Large-scale migration during the second half of 2015 and early 2016 from Turkey to Greece, through the Western Balkans region, called for a coordinated migration crisis response. In Turkey, IOM supports the Turkish Coast Guard, which provides assistance to the migrants and refugees rescued at sea en route to Greece, Romania or Bulgaria.

In the Western Balkans, large numbers arrived at the borders, mostly those of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, where they received prompt, effective assistance. Among them were vulnerable migrants, including unaccompanied children and victims of trafficking. Many of them did not qualify for international protection, but nonetheless receive assistance. IOM’s efforts, in the framework of the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for Europe, include contingency planning, Displacement Tracking and flow Monitoring (DTM), emergency response, protection of vulnerable migrants, and capacity-building for humanitarian border management.

Portfolio in Brief

The Emergency and Post-Crisis Recovery division aids IDPs, refugees, and returnees in Kosovo*, provides livelihood support to displaced populations in Ukraine, community stabilization and relief in Tajikistan, and coordinated resilience and recovery activities to migrants and refugees in Turkey, to name but a few.

IOM transition and recovery programmes in the post-emergency phase bridge the gap between relief and development. We empower communities to assist in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of affected areas as one of the ways to prevent forced migration. Programmes utilize a variety of activities to support the re-integration of the displaced and to assist the receiving communities to cope with socio-economic burdens. These include livelihood support for displaced populations and host community members, social cohesion activities, infrastructure development and support for the integration or reintegration of returnees.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999

Land, property and reparations issues play an ever-increasing role in reconciliation, peace-building and reconstruction efforts and are an important rehabilitation tool for countries in transition. The contribution of such programmes to durable solutions for conflict-affected populations is substantial. As part of its global mandate on migration, IOM’s Land, Property and Reparations (LPR) Division under the DOE, assists governments to address severe human rights violations in the aftermath of natural disasters and protracted conflict situations.

In the RO Vienna region, IOM provides extensive technical assistance to ensure access to reparations and to the evolution of jurisprudence for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This joint-UN programme works to identify and address gaps in existing care, support and justice systems, and to create an effective, comprehensive and standardized approach to dealing with survivors. The programme aims to gain an important insight into understanding the drivers of high rates of sexual violence in conflict situations and how sexual violence impedes the full restoration of peace in post-conflict societies.

The Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) is a system developed by IOM to assess and monitor displacement and population movements. It is designed to collect, process and disseminate information regularly and systematically in order to provide a better understanding of the movements and evolving needs of mobile populations in places of displacement or transit. The DTM has been continuously refined and enhanced through years of operational experience in countries in both conflict and natural disaster settings. It plays an essential role in providing primary data and information on displacement, both in-country and at the global level. It is comprised of four distinct components:

  1. Mobility Tracking: regularly tracks population movements and associated needs to target assistance in locations of displacement, origin, or possible relocation sites to support sustainable solutions to displacement;
  2. Flow Monitoring: tracks movements of displaced populations at key transit points when locations of origin are not accessible and displacement is gradual;
  3. Registration: individual and household-level information used by site managers for beneficiary selection, vulnerability targeting and programming;
  4. Surveys: gathers specific information through population sampling, in regard to return intention, displacement solutions, community perception and other thematic information in relation to displacement.

DTM in the Mediterranean

In September 2015, IOM established a Flow Monitoring System across the Mediterranean and Western Balkan countries in order to collect, process and disseminate information on the mixed migration flows towards Europe. This system includes the compilation of statistical information which provides an overview of migration flows in countries of first arrival and other countries along the route in Europe, as well an analysis of trends across the affected region on a monthly basis.

The system also includes Flow Monitoring Surveys (FMS), which are individual interviews tailored to capture additional and more in-depth data on people on the move, including age, sex, areas of origin, levels of education, key transit-points on their route, motivations and intentions. This information has been compiled by IOM field staff in Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Croatia, Italy, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria since October 2015. Analysis is available on the IOM Mediterranean portal. The latest “Analysis: Flow Monitoring Surveys in the Mediterranean and Beyond” reports are available at migration.iom.int.

Cooperation with other IOM Departments

The FMS includes a module containing indicators to measure human trafficking and the prevalence of exploitative practices. The indicators were developed by the DTM Global team together with IOM’s Assistance to Vulnerable Migrants (AVM) Unit, and they aim to gather information on events experienced by the respondent directly or by one of his/her family members. Through the use of standardized measures, comparisons across countries, time and different populations, the survey allows IOM to gain a better understanding of the overall vulnerability to abuse, human trafficking and exploitation of migrants in transit towards Europe.

Reports and datasets are available for download on DTM Flows to Europe Geoportal.

Inter-agency Cooperation 

The DTM team based in Vienna co-chairs the IOM-UNHCR-UNICEF Regional Information Management Working Group for Europe. The group serves as a platform to discuss and support the coordination of ongoing and planned data collection activities in Europe as well as reporting on migrants´ arrivals via Mediterranean routes to Europe. The Working Group includes other international agencies and NGOs working with migrant population in Europe and meets on a monthly basis in Geneva. In 2017, the three UN agencies developed a joint Interagency Factsheet on Migrant and Refugee Children Arriving to Europe to provide an overview of trends in regards to asylum decisions, relocations, resettlement and segregated data on children who arrived in Europe. Factsheets are published on a quarterly basis and can be accessed here.