Statement on the Situation in Ukraine: IOM Director General António Vitorino

Geneva – We are extremely worried about the escalation of military action in Ukraine and the deteriorating humanitarian situation. 

We reiterate the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres’ call for an immediate cessation in hostilities and the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure. 

Eight years of conflict in Ukraine have displaced over 1.4 million people who now rely on assistance to meet their daily needs. This escalation will only deepen the humanitarian needs and compound the suffering of millions of families. 

IOM, alongside the United Nations and the humanitarian community, is committed to staying and delivering vital assistance to the people of Ukraine and stands ready to respond to the emerging humanitarian needs in the country and the region, in close coordination with governments and partners. 

We will continue to operate in a neutral and impartial manner, prioritizing the humanitarian imperative. 

Source: IOM Global website 

IOM is on the ground supporting the people from Ukraine. Join us providing humanitarian aid to the people of Ukarine.

*USA for IOM is a registered 501(c)(3), all donations are 100% tax-deductible.

How does data science play an important role in supporting migration? 

The latest special issue of the Harvard Data Science Report explores the critical part data science plays in helping understand migration while also helping displaced persons by combating misinformation surrounding migration.  

This collaboration showcases the importance of data science in the more significant move to help those displaced and migrating. Members of our team participated in different articles on this issue, and we invite you to read them to explore this further: 

Our Board Director, Tolu Olubunmi, shares her immigrant story in the article When Lions Write: An American Immigrant Story. This genuinely inspiring testimony lets us fully comprehend the importance of hope as a critical factor for migrants to make a difference and create the lives they want and deserve.

Co-Editors Liberty Vittert and Rita Ko explore integrating academic and industry exploration of multiple aspects of forced displacement and world migration in the article How Can Data Science Revolutionize Humanitarian Crises?. With 82.4 million forcibly displaced people, new approaches to the global refugee crisis are vital to combat the hostile rhetoric around human mobility, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Last but not least, in the article “How can improved data and information systems be applied more universally to the growing list of life-threatening human crises we now see around the globe and those that will inevitably follow?” James N. Purcell, our board chairman, explores the role of humanitarian aid in the article The Humanitarian Journey: From Root Causes to Recovery.

Collaborations like these, in which institutions create spaces for discussion, are integral to successfully help those in greatest need and successfully build a better future for all. In this case, migration showcases the significance of human mobility both historically and now and increases awareness on how much we have to learn from people on the move in facing the challenges of the world today.  

We invite you to read the complete issue here for more information! 

IOM Launches Haiti Crisis Response Plan 2022-2024

Haiti’s geography increases exposure to disasters such as tropical storms, hurricanes, and earthquakes. These disasters generate destruction of both infrastructure and agricultural areas. In addition to Haiti’s geographic characteristics, socio-political challenges have deteriorated the nation’s security and have caused both an increase in the urban population and in the irregular migration of Haitians in the region. Because of such factors, Haiti is considered the most vulnerable country in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the 18th most vulnerable country in the world (INFORM Index 2021). 

On the morning of January 24, Haiti recorded two aftershocks of 5.6 and 5.4 increasing the death toll and number of those injured since the 7.2 magnitude Earthquake in August last year. Haiti is a nation deeply in need of international aid focused on sustainable recovery and disaster prevention.  

IOM, together with both governmental and non-governmental partners, is committed to addressing immediate and long-term disaster and mobility-related challenges in Haiti by the root causes of irregular migration, reducing forced movement and the vulnerability of affected and at-risk population, building resilience to identified risks and mainstreaming migration in development agendas and policies. 

In December 2021, IOM launched a Crisis Response Plan aiming to: 

Save lives and respond to needs through humanitarian assistance and protection 

Address the drivers and longer-term impacts of crises and displacement through investments in recovery and crisis prevention 

Strengthen preparedness and reduce disaster risk 

Contribute to an Evidence-Based and Efficient Crisis Response System 

Achieving these goals and aiding the recovery of the more than 310,000 people impacted by the most recent disasters requires around USD 87 million.  

USA for IOM plays a critical role in mobilizing resources from individuals and the private sector in the United States to support IOM’s work around the world, and by doing so, aids thousands of vulnerable people, like Haitians, affected by disasters. You can read the full response plan HERE:   

Baseball brings a community together

“As the pitcher, you set the tone,” begins the coach of Casa Llena.  

“It doesn’t matter what the score is, what the crowd is yelling, or even who’s up to bat; the only thing you can control is yourself. Each time you’re on the mound, it’s a new opportunity to set the tone you want.”  

Self-regulation is one of the many life lessons players learn on IOM’s youth baseball team.  

Along with gameplay and technique, players learn life skills, including taking things one step at a time as they round the bases, and that helping each other is essential to meeting their collective goals.  

The name ‘Casa Llena’ or ‘Full House’ carries its own significance- a baseball term for when the bases are full, and scoring is imminent, it’s a reminder of the value of opening our doors to new neighbors.   

Baseball represents an unlikely connection between arriving Venezuelan migrants and Ecuadorian locals in a predominantly soccer-loving country. But the 20 migrant and local youth brought together through this program see it as an opportunity to form community. 

Yolannys, a 25-year-old Venezuelan migrant, has become close to both her fellow players and their parents. She says that joining the team has made her feel at home in a new country.   

When asked about the program’s impact on her, she describes how coming to practices has helped her keep focused on her goals and that the friends she’s made have given her the encouragement she needed to grow her new business.   

Samuel, a local player age-10, has enjoyed making friends, having fun, and adds that he’s learned a lot about the game from his Venezuelan teammates.  

But for Ximena, 15, the team’s star hitter, she doesn’t notice any difference between her and her Venezuelan teammates on the field. 

World Humanitarian Day 2021

I know I’m not alone when I say that this week has been a heavy one. Leading up to this year’s #worldhumanitarianday, and in the wake of recent events in Haiti and Afghanistan, USA for IOM team and I have been reflecting on how fundraising can enhance its impact through proactive, sustainable investment in development.

It is important to note that while last week’s events were sudden, they were not entirely unpredictable. Sitting on a fault-line in the Caribbean, #Haiti is vulnerable to disasters. What makes this event truly devastating is the underlying social and economic instability that will, in all likelihood, prevent a speedy recovery. We are deploying trucks with food and tents to communities still struggling to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake. And the myriad challenges facing #Afghanistan, which has suffered governance, socio-economic, and development challenges as a result of decades of conflict, are similarly structural and historic.

In responding to these crises, I often feel we are putting bandages on bullet holes. We can take comfort in the Talmudic proverb, “whoever saves one life, saves the world entire,” I feel as though launching emergency relief responses to predictable crises reveals the Sisyphus complex of the philanthropic sector.
To break free from this cycle, we in philanthropy must be proactive and truly start to use our platform and our tools to engender a world that is not less prone to crises, but one with the social and economic fortitude to be more resilient to them. We must focus on the transformation the world needs beyond the crisis du jour and then focus our resources on proactive solutions.

In a way, this also helps answer another question: how do we prioritize emergency responses? When disaster strikes it’s easy to mobilize action for a cause. But once the faces of distant suffering fade from the frontpages, action too begins to wane. In the past I’ve found myself reaching for a bigger, louder bullhorn, feeling the need to scream “look over here, look over there, we still need you here!”

I believe that by shifting philanthropy to focus on addressing the roots of an issue—the systemic challenges that underpin human suffering–we can avoid the pressure to see humanitarian needs as competing, and instead view them as simultaneous. If funders make not only deep but longstanding investments in a cause or region maybe it will relieve the anxiety the fundraising community feels to fight for attention. Moving forward, I want to learn how I, my team as agents to support development and human mobility, can cultivate and encourage that level of donor dedication long before the needs are urgent.

I encourage comments on: How can philanthropy transform our world? What’s the strategy to this game of whack-a-mole? Is it possible to “care” about everything all at once? And how can we translate care into effective, sustained action? #philanthropy