The International Organization for Migration (IOM) - a related organization of the United Nations - is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration. It works to meet the growing operational challenges of migration, advance understanding of migration issues, encourage social and economic development through migration and uphold the well-being and human rights of migrants.
In Nepal, upon signing the Cooperation Agreement with the Government of Nepal in 2007, IOM started its operations by facilitating the resettlement of Bhutanese refugees to receiving countries. Since then, IOM has expanded significantly both in terms of programme areas and target populations and has contributed to the government of Nepal’s efforts to manage migration more effectively through a wide range of programmes aligned to IOM’s Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Global Compact for Migration (GCM).
IOM’s focus areas include Migrant Protection and Assistance, Migration and Development, Labour Migration, Disaster Preparedness and Response, Migration Health, Emergency Response, and Migration, Environment and Climate Change.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that migration is a powerful driver of sustainable development, for migrants and their communities. Migration brings significant benefits in the form of skills, strengthening the labour force, investment and cultural diversity. It supports growth by contributing to the improvement of communities in countries of origin through the transfer of skills and financial resources.
Nepal’s migration situation is dominated by the migration of Nepalese for foreign employment. The Nepal Migration Profile 2019 estimates over 3.2 million Nepali migrant workers are currently working in foreign countries including India and over a half of Nepalese households has a migrant member who is either abroad or returned from a working experience abroad. The most evident impact of Nepal’s migration is brought by the remittances which flow back into Nepal. They positively and significantly contribute to both, the household as well as the national economy.
IOM is a member of United Nations Country Team and works within the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) whose strategic areas are derived from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Nepal’s Fourteenth National Development Plan.
The current outbreak of the COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on human mobility. The pandemic will have broad-ranging, long-term humanitarian and socio-economic impact. Loss of jobs and income in destination countries has pushed already vulnerable migrants and their families further into deeper poverty. Though migrants all over the world, including that of Nepalese, have often been working in frontline in response to the pandemic in their host countries, the pandemic has also intensified stigma, xenophobia and discrimination directed towards migrants and other vulnerable population due to perceived linkages with the origin or transmission of the pandemic.
In line with its global call for a migrant-inclusive approaches in the overall COVID-19 response, IOM in Nepal has been supporting the efforts of the government of Nepal in preparedness, response and recovery from the pandemic.