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New UN migration chief focuses on economic benefits of migration

The new Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Amy Pope speaks, during a press conference, in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Oct. 2, 2023   -  
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The new chief at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) laid out her vision for tackling migration on Monday and stressed the importance of the economic benefits migration can have on the countries receiving migrants.

Speaking from Geneva, Amy Pope focused on the evidence that migration can boost economies by providing well-needed workers or new innovation.

"Our number one goal is to really harness the benefits and the promise of migration, and it's my belief that when we work together with communities, when we work together with governments, we can start to build out ways to find opportunities for people who are on the move rather than just treating the issue as a problem to be solved," Pope advised.

"The evidence is fairly overwhelming that migration actually benefits economies," she added.

Pope also advised that migration was driven by people seeking work and that if "regular realistic pathways" were created and a comprehensive approach adopted towards migration, then the positive benefits of migration could be realised.

Pope went on to confirm that the agency was concerned by the "normalisation" of people dying when crossing the Mediterranean Sea, where there have been hundreds of recent deaths due to unseaworthy or overloaded boats capsizing or breaking apart.

"Our first concern is changing the expectation, changing the narrative and really humanising the people we're talking about," Pope said.

"These are people first before we label them as migrants or asylum seekers or anything else and valuing their human life, recognising their dignity is key to everything we say and do," she added.

Pope recently won her bid to become the first woman to lead the U.N. migration agency defeating the current IOM Director General Antonio Vitorino in a vote for the position.

The organization has nearly 19,000 staff members working in 171 countries to promote “humane and orderly” migration.

Its job in many of its 560 field offices is to provide migrants with food, water, shelter and help with government-imposed paperwork.

The agency also collects and shares vast amounts of data about flows of people to governments, and advises them on policy decisions.

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