In recent years, humanitarian efforts in the RO Vienna region have chiefly concentrated on assistance to displaced populations in Ukraine, to Syrian refugees hosted in Turkey and, via IOM Turkey, to displaced populations in the Syrian Arab Republic. In Ukraine, IOM reports more than 1.4 million IDPs, with many in need of urgent and basic humanitarian assistance as well as longer-term support with healthcare, jobs and housing. Over 30 per cent of the 3.4 million persons in need are elderly, the highest proportion of any crisis worldwide. Turkey remains host to the world’s largest refugee population . According to the Turkish authorities, almost 4.5 million foreign nationals are officially living in Turkey, of whom 3.64 million are seeking international protection, the vast majority (3.62 million)1 being Syrians who have been granted temporary protection status. Within the framework of the coordinated plan for response, called the 3RP, IOM provides humanitarian relief in Turkey, for example through cash transfers for basic needs, shelter support, the delivery of non-food items such as hygiene kits and household supplies, food distribution, protection, mental health and psychosocial support, transportation to schools and basic healthcare. This is combined with recovery support for both displaced and host communities that fosters social cohesion. On the western land and sea border, IOM provides emergency assistance to migrants and refugees who were rescued or intercepted while attempting to cross into EU countries. From the South-East of Turkey, IOM also operates a large-scale logistical operation to deliver cross-border aid into the Syrian Arab Republic.
IOM further supports governments of countries along the Eastern Mediterranean route, that leads through the Western Balkans, to address large flows of migrants transiting through the region – with important humanitarian operations set up flexibly at points where migrants stay for longer periods of time. 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. IOM’s efforts included contingency planning, Displacement Tracking and flow Monitoring (DTM), emergency response, protection of vulnerable migrants, and capacity-building for humanitarian border management. Since 2018, the main operation has concentrated on Bosnia and Herzegovina, from where migrants attempt to cross into European Union countries to continue their journey.
Finally, IOM contributes to governments’ efforts to prepare for and respond to the global crisis that broke out in 2020 – the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking forward, IOM will continue this support with a renewed focus on recovery. The spread of the virus had severe implications for the most vulnerable, which includes displaced populations and their host communities, but also migrants who became stranded in countries of transit and destination, or those who lost their source of income and returned to countries of origin.
In the Western Balkans, large numbers arrived at the borders, particularly those of North Macedonia and Serbia in the first quarter of 2020, 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 received 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.
All of IOM’s crisis response plans, including its global plan for COVID-19, are published on IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform.