Companies such as Microsoft have been approached by the incoming UN migration chief for potential collaboration in managing migration, according to her statements on Thursday. With a staggering number of over 100 million forcibly displaced individuals worldwide, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) based in Geneva aims to ensure organized and humane migration, providing intervention when necessary.
Amy Pope, Washington’s candidate who emerged victorious in a tense election against her Portuguese counterpart Antonio Vitorino, emphasized the urgent need to alleviate pressure on Western countries’ asylum systems, which she described as “completely overwhelmed.” In an interview with Reuters, Pope expressed her desire for the private sector to play a major role in global delivery, emphasizing the importance of building sustainable partnerships rather than simply performing charitable acts.
Pope, set to assume the position of Director-General in October, highlighted ongoing discussions with Microsoft regarding projects in Africa as an example of increased private sector investment in migration efforts. However, Microsoft has not yet responded to a request for comment from Reuters. Currently, only $15 million of the IOM’s $2.5 billion budget originates from the private sector, according to Pope.
The UN migration chief also stressed the significance of creating alternative solutions for economic migrants, reducing their reliance on the asylum system. When questioned about recent asylum restrictions imposed by U.S. President Joe Biden at the U.S.-Mexico border, Pope expressed her intention to observe the implementation of the policy before forming an opinion.
Under Biden’s new policy, individuals who pass through Mexico or other countries without seeking protection or fail to use legal pathways to enter the U.S. will generally be denied asylum if they cross the border illegally.
Pope, who previously served as a White House adviser and received personal support from Biden for her candidacy, will become the 11th head of the IOM. The majority of past IOM heads have been American, with only two exceptions.
Another focal point of Pope’s agenda is the creation of “climate sustainable solutions” for migration. While she currently does not advocate for granting refugee status to those fleeing the effects of climate change, she acknowledged the perilous nature of migration routes, particularly the deadliest route from North Africa to Europe via the central Mediterranean. Pope referred to this issue as a “symptom” of desperation in many regions, driving people to undertake perilous journeys. She expressed her hope for a collective effort to address these challenges from a broader perspective.