Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Big tech being enlisted to solve the migration crisis

4 July 20230 comments

The new head of the UN’s migration agency IOM plans to co-opt tech companies into the work of managing global migration.

Amy Pope, the incoming head of the International Organisation for Migration, says she has talked to companies like Microsoft to see how they can build partnerships to manage global migration.

A record number of people – more than 110 million – are currently forcibly displaced around the world and the Geneva-based IOM is seeking ways to ensure humane and orderly migration.

Ms Pope was Washington’s candidate for the role and beat her Portuguese former boss Antonio Vitorino in an election to decide the role last month.

She said there was a need to ease strain on asylum systems in Western countries she described as “completely overwhelmed”.

“I want to go to the private sector being a major part of how we deliver around the world. It’s not just about doing good. It’s really about building a partnership for sustainability,” Ms Pope said in a recent interview.

At present, only about $15 million of IOM’s total budget of $2.5 billion comes from the private sector, she said.

Ms Pope said that such projects were examples of creating alternatives for economic migrants who might otherwise use the asylum system.

When asked about new asylum restrictions imposed by US president Joe Biden at the US-Mexico border last month, she said she would wait to see what happens with how the policy is implemented.

Under the new Biden policy, migrants who pass through Mexico or other countries without seeking protection or fail to use US legal pathways from abroad will generally be denied asylum if they cross the border illegally.

Ms Pope, who worked as a White House advisor and whose candidacy was backed by Biden personally, will become the 11th IOM head. All but two of them have been American.

Another priority of her mandate is to create more “climate sustainable solutions” for migration, she said.

But Ms Pope said does not currently support giving those fleeing climate change’s effects refugee status.

The world’s deadliest migration route is from North Africa to Europe via the central Mediterranean and hundreds have drowned there this year.

Ms Pope described the issue as a “symptom” of what is happening in many places – desperation pushing people to pursue dangerous journeys.

“My hope, my intent is that collectively, we can raise that perspective to 30,000 feet,” she said.