Why we are campaigning against the IOM
21.Nov.02 - Freedom of Movement versus Global Migration Management
Gemma left the Phillipines and entered England without too much trouble on her sister's passport. Her sister had already emigrated "illegally" four years ago, had struggeled as a housemaid in London and finally fought for her legalisation with the help of a support group for domestic workers.
Karim would have never thought that the people in Tarifa would help him that well. He had barely money on him when he left Algeria, the crossing on the patera was dangerous but now he is with friends in Paris.
After having left Iran towards Turkey, the Surani family needed to take a detour via Kiew in order to get to Hamburg. The smugglers were expensive but treated them fair and both children travelled eastern europe for half price.
Li made it with his second attempt via speed boat across the canal to Otranto and is today one of the famous "7000 eternal chinese of florence". In that legal community no one has ever been reported dead - why should one purposely give up a valid permit to stay?
Already Europol has estimated that every year approximately 500.000 people manage to cross the borders of Schengen Europe "illegally". Immigrants conquer "Fortress Europe" with the support of their networks and communities as well as commercial smugglers.
No doubt: many immigrants fail to cross these outer limits that are constantly moving further east and south. They feel utter despair in Kiew and Tanger, they suffocate in containers or they drown in the mediterranian sea. They get "stuck on the road", in its fullest meaning. They become victims of a brutal migration regime that is coordinated throughout Europe.
Still the autonomy of migration cannot be stopped. Even Antonio Vitorino, commissionary of the European Community, is acknowledging that the "fight against illegal migration" cannot be won by the authorities. Vitorinos conclusion is to control at least what cannot be prevented.
In all countries of the European Community the exploitation of illegalized workers is tolerated or even wanted. Some sectors of the economy would literally collapse if not for immigrants without rights and therefore cheap laborers.
Border- and migration management are the current magic terms of "modern" migration politics.
The clue is to combine exclusion and the deportations of the "unwanted" with contolled recruitment and selection of the "wanted".
IOM - transnational agency of migration management
IOM - the name keeps reappearing: In the context of so-called repatriation from Europe to (e.g.) Afghanistan, in the context of the militarization of borders in the baltic states or in the Ukraine, around the issue of destruction of possibilities to flee the caucasus as well as on brutal camp administration on the pacific island of Nauru. Be for the recruitment of workers from Ecuador to Spain or from Asian countries to Finland, the same name reappears in all these different programs over and over: IOM. The IOM can function as a think-tank or as link for transmission or to assist in any practical way and form.
The IOM with its headquarter in Geneva was founded in 1951 in the realm of the cold war by western allied forces. Its initial conception was as a counterorganisation to the UNHCR. The IOM is a complex intergovernmental organization that is growing fast and is financed by 93 memberstates. Worldwide it has 19 coordination centers and more than 100 field offices. The IOM has adapted well to the social and economic needs of globalization and describes itself as "the leading international organization of migration management".
In order to legitimize their work the IOM is functionalizing the "struggle against women- and human trafficking" and is trying to involve different NGOs in their work.
Still this cannot deny that its programs and projects keep aiming to prevent and control all "illegal immigration" and by that aim to destroy the autonomy and self-determination of migration itself.
IOM - in the midst of criticism?
So far the IOM was an unknown organisation working rather in the background, lately its projects have raised increasingly a critical awareness.
The Roma National Congress in Hamburg calls the IOM the "enemy of the Rom" due to their repatriation programs.
In Australia Amnesty International and the Green Party are accusing the IOM to break agreements of the Geneva Conventions on Refugees. In a film by the BBC their role in managing a refugee camp on Nauru island is impressively documented.
The British Refugee Council is criticizing the IOM due to their current repatriation programs to Afghanistan.
Women's NGOs feel functionalized by the IOM's anti-trafficking programs or pushed into financial dependency.
That's why the european antiracist noborder network has started their "Campaign to combat Global Migration Management". Central was the coordinated protest against the IOM around October 13, 2002, the first international action day for the freedom of movement . In Helsinki, Vienna, Paris and Berlin IOM offices were confronted with direct protest actions. In Warsaw, Kiew,Moscow, London and Rome noborder activists pointed on the IOM as well.
The international campaign against the IOM is a chance to gain knowledge about the modernized migration regime. At the same time on the long run it is gear to block projects that aim to control, deport and expell people. Projects that agencies for global migration management like the IOM aim to push further.