The IOM, Spies and Migrant Hunters

18.Aug.02 - When the IOM was founded in 1951 it has been intended to create a counter-agency to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The IOM, like the International Organisation for Labour (ILO) reflected the Cold War and Truman doctrine; amongst others it played a role in an early brain drain from the Eastern Bloc to the West and in establishing new pro-capitalist states. Under the leadership of the USA, the IOM, other than the UNHCR has not been based on humanitarian principles but on economical considerations. Their basic policy is not concerned with the well being of people but the well being of economies. Secondly, their ideology is based on racist principles of homogeneous ethnic states and xenophobic concepts of home. That says it all. In an era of globalisation migration appears as a major social movement against the imperialist concept of zones of differentiated reproduction cost. The IOM has been best prepared to implement concepts of enforcing the borders necessary to uphold such a regime and to conform to new forms of neoliberal migration management.
Today, the IOM has 91 member states, its headquarter is in Geneva, where the annual general meetings are held. Its Technical Cooperation Centre (TCC) is based in Vienna and is policing South, Central and East Europe, whilst Polish policy is overlooked from the Berlin office. There are 19 regional sub-offices: the Brussels office covers cooperation with most other West-European governments, only Germany and Italy have their own representations in Bonn and Rome; the Helsinki office works towards the Balticum; and the Budapest office covers southeast Europe. Its over 100 Field Offices and representations act as a warning system migration. They spy on migrants, migrant networks and NGOs. They report back to the EU and US and recommend action. Wherever migration occurs, new border regimes are erected and new technologies introduced under the hospice of the IOM. They recommend migration hostile policies, they sell the latest cry of control technology, they train police officers and border troops to combat migration, they plan and build control posts and detention camps. They pride themselves to have been involved in the movement of 11 million people (sic), in 2000 they facilitated the movement of about 450.000 people, mostly return, repatriation or resettlement cases.

However, the direction is wrong and the people do not volunteer. The list of destinations reads like a list of war torn regions; the major targets were Timor, North Iraq, Kosovo, Angola and Afghanistan. These plus countries like Somalia, Sierra Leone, Liberia or Sudan may be understood as those single governments find it too difficult to transport people too. National governments are called customers and the IOM sees their role as a service business for voluntary return. But voluntary usually means nothing else than either you are detained and deported or you agree in leaving without resistance. That is most obvious with Roma or Kosovars who frequently resisted against such treatment. The IOM contributes to break such resistance, arranges the journey, buys the ticket and away with you. Consequently, the Roma National Congress calls the IOM the enemy of the Roma People. Any mercenary reputation the IOM might have is a mere cover for their true politics. It is a Janus faced organisation, aiming to win trust, cooperate with and using NGOs on the one hand but acting as a reliable partner of national governments. Be aware!