Photo: IOM Belarus

IOM and UNDP in Belarus announce the start of their joint work in the migration and development area. 

Over the next few months, IOM and UNDP will join efforts to support migrants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic within the Global IOM-UNDP Seed Funding Initiative. 

In Belarus, this partnership of the two UN agencies is the first of its kind. However, at the global level leaders of the organizations – Antonio Vitorino, IOM Director General, and Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator – have already confirmed their intention to act together in the overarching area of migration and development.

Their statement has come out very timely: recently UNDP has released a new report “Human Mobility, Shared Opportunities,” that recommends actions for policymakers to enhance the benefits of human mobility to help achieve SDGs, and many countries, including Belarus, have submitted their reports on the implementation of the Global Compact on Migration.

In Belarus, the IOM-UNDP partnership highlights their commitment to the UN Country Team’s strategy of close cooperation and coordination among agencies to ensure more effective support to Belarus, inter alia in the migration and development area. 

"Our organizations believe that migration has its impact on sustainable development in countries of origin, transit and destination. And, of course, this is reflected in our strategic documents both at the global and country levels," said Alexandra Solovieva, UNDP Resident Representative in Belarus. – Today we are glad to start cooperation with IOM Mission in Belarus and consider migration and sustainable development in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had an unprecedented impact on human mobility and led to significant socio-economic consequences".

The partnership sets an ambitious goal: to counter stigma and discrimination that migrants in Belarus may face in the context of COVID-19 and better integrate migrants into society and, as a result, to promote sustainable development through advocacy and programme development.

"During the pandemic, migrants are increasingly experiencing stigmatization. Unfortunately, due to their migrant status, they are oftentimes accused of spreading the virus and infecting the population. Incorrect coverage of such topics in the media only aggravates discrimination against foreign citizens," - said Mahym Orazmuhammedova, Chief of Mission at IOM Belarus. - In the short and midterm perspective, stigma and discrimination towards migrants may affect the pandemic prevention and pose a threat to the population health, because stigma may force migrants to hide their disease and refrain from seeking medical assistance. It is the reason why our organizations have teamed up to contribute to addressing the challenge.”

The initiative will kick off with a survey among foreigners working and/or studying in Belarus, as well as residents. The study is supposed to identify the vulnerabilities of migrants, aggravated by COVID-19, specific cases of stigma and discrimination they may face in Belarus, main challenges of integration into the society during the pandemic. It is also necessary to identify the key categories of migrants who most often face stigma and discrimination caused by COVID-19. The results are expected to be published in the first half of 2021.

A relatively small initiative of the two UN agencies will be scaled up and form the basis for subsequent joint projects of IOM and UNDP to support the sustainable development in Belarus.


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