Head of UN migration agency says it reaps funds, but worries about politics loom over aid groups

GENEVA (AP) — The head of the U.N. migration agency said Thursday it has taken in hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding and diversified its donor base at a time when other U.N. groups have struggled to get needed money. Elections worldwide, however, are raising questions about future support, she said.

Amy Pope, a former migration adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden who received his support for her successful campaign to lead the International Organization for Migration last year, says she is focused on addressing all the complexities of migration — and has warned that many migrants have risked and lost their lives on perilous journeys.

“This is not about representing the Biden administration,” said Pope in an interview at IOM’s Geneva headquarters. “This is about bringing a comprehensive, 360-degree approach to the issue of migration, recognizing that narrowing it down to one slice of a migrant’s journey is a significant mistake.”

The IOM director-general said she resists attempts to “boil down the issue of migration simply to managing the border, because I think that’s a huge strategic mistake for governments that plays into some of the politics we’re seeing — leading to very, very negative consequences.”

Under Pope, IOM launched its first-ever “global appeal” in January, seeking nearly $8 billion, part of her ambition to fund programs that prepare for migration flows ahead of time, not just react to them. Its support comes from sources as diverse as development banks and tech titan Microsoft.

Pope said “over a third of the appeal has been funded so far.” Sister U.N. organizations like the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs have lamented a shortfall in funds for crises like the war in Sudan — even if some rich countries have led efforts to improve it.

Pope has repeatedly talked up the benefits of migration, including the labor that migrants bring to host countries and the money that they send home, at a time when right-wing political movements in some Western countries have criticized and even demonized the newcomers.

“I think every U.N. agency is struggling with the impact of elections that are happening around the world at this moment in time,” Pope said. “There’s no guarantee that whoever comes into a position of power will have the same regard for the role that the U.N. and various multilateral institutions play.”

“So our goal is to make sure that we have a diverse set of donors” and explain IOM’s role, she added.


Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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