IOM raising awareness on hazards of irregular migration

7 Aug 2014

IOM raising awareness on hazards of irregular migration

KABUL - A United Nations-affiliated body responsible for promoting humane and orderly migration is supporting a nationwide campaign to raise awareness among Afghans population – particularly Afghan youth – about the hazards and difficulties related to irregular migration.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM)-backed campaign is led and implemented by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriates (MoRR). It seeks to convince Afghan youth intending to embark on irregular migration for a better life in western countries to stay in their own homeland.

“It is important for us that Afghan youth stay in the country and utilize their capacity for the development of Afghanistan rather than putting their lives in danger through irregular migration,” said the Communications Officer at IOM Afghanistan, Nasir Ahmad Haidarzai.

According to IOM, irregular migration is movement that takes place outside the regulatory norms of the sending, transit and receiving countries, although the agency notes that there is no clear or universally accepted definition of irregular migration. From the perspective of destination countries it is entry, stay or work in a country without the necessary authorization or documents required under immigration regulations. From the perspective of the sending country, the irregularity is for example seen in cases in which a person crosses an international boundary without a valid passport or travel document or does not fulfil the administrative requirements for leaving the country.

Irregular migration occurs around the globe and Afghanistan is one of the countries in the region confronting the issue on a large scale.

According to the 2013 Global Trends Report, released earlier this year by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Afghanistan – with some 2.56 million refugees in 86 countries – remained the leading country of origin of refugees in 2013 – “the 33rd consecutive year it has topped this list.”

One out of every five refugees in the world is from Afghanistan, with 95 per cent located in Pakistan or Iran.

Since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, about six million Afghan refugees have returned to their country, with some four million of them returning from Pakistan alone, in the world’s largest return operation. However, there are still some 1.6 million Afghan refugees currently living in Pakistan and around 900,000 in Iran.

IOM, which is providing financial and technical support to the campaign, states that, in addition to insecurity and poor rule of law, poverty is the main driver for irregular migration in Afghanistan.

“Our messages mainly focus on the hazards and dangers that the people face during irregular migration,” said Mr. Haidarzai “These include threats of getting shot by security forces at the borders, drowning into sea, falling in the hands of mafia, sexual harassment and forced labour.”

He also said that brochures, posters and billboards have been printed with key messages regarding irregular migration and installed in different parts of Afghan cities. In addition, messages are also being broadcast on television and radio.

Related article:

- New UN-backed agreement helps Afghan refugees avoid expulsion from Pakistan