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New UN migration chief: migration powers economic growth

Amy Pope, the new head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), spoke on Monday about her vision for tackling migration and highlighted the economic benefits migration could bring to countries where migrants arrive.

At her speech in Geneva, Amy Pope listed a range of evidence that migration can boost economies by providing much-needed workers or some innovations. She claimed:

“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.The evidence is fairly overwhelming that migration actually benefits economies.”

Pope stressed that the number of migrants is increasing because people are looking for work, and that if “regular realistic pathways” were created and a comprehensive approach to migration was taken, the positive benefits of migration could be realised.

Pope said the agency was concerned about the “normalisation” of people dying while crossing the Mediterranean Sea, where hundreds of deaths have recently occurred as a result of unseaworthy or overloaded boats capsizing or breaking apart. She said:

“Our first concern is changing the expectation, changing the narrative and really humanising the people we’re talking about. 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.”

Amy Pope takes over as head of the UN migration agency, defeating current IOM director-general Antonio Vitorino in a vote for the post.

The organisation has about 19,000 staff working in 171 countries to promote “humane and orderly” migration. Many of the organisation’s 560 field offices provide food, water, shelter and documentation assistance to migrants. The agency’s staff collects and provides governments with vast amounts of data on flows of people and advises them on policy decisions.

In the absence of a long-stalled EU deal on sharing out asylum seekers reaching Europe, civil society groups say that it has become commonplace for authorities to illegally force them back over the border they entered from outside the bloc. There were nearly 10,000 incidents of migrants been pushed back forcibly over EU borders – either on land or on water – between May-August, a Danish Refugee Council report showed on Monday.

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