International Organization for Migration (IOM) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) join efforts to support migrants in Belarus during the COVID-19 pandemic under the Global IOM-UNDP Seed Funding Initiative.
The partnership is designed to contribute to countering stigma and discrimination that migrants may face in the context of COVID-19 through research and advocacy, as well as develop joint project ideas serving as entry points for continued IOM-UNDP engagement in support of enhanced integration of migrants into society – the types of activities with potential to boost sustainable development of Belarus.
In Belarus, this is the first partnership of the two UN agencies in the field of migration and sustainable development of this kind. Globally, however, back in 2020 the leaders of the two organizations, Antonio Vitorino, Director General of IOM, and Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP, announced their intentions to join forces in the field of migration and development. Most recently, UNDP has released a new report “Human Mobility, Shared Opportunities”, which offers solutions to maximize the contribution of migrants to societies, measures to make human mobility inclusive and safe. Besides, Belarus – similarly to other countries – has already sent its first report on the progress towards the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration.
“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”.
“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 medium term, stigma and discrimination against migrants have a negative impact on containing the epidemic and endanger the health of the population, because stigma could force migrants to hide their disease and refrain from seeking medical assistance. This is the reason our organizations have teamed to contribute to addressing the challenge”.
The starting point of the intervention will include a survey among foreigners working and/or studying in Belarus, as well as among country’s residents. The study is expected to identify the vulnerabilities of migrants, aggravated by COVID-19, specific cases of stigma and discrimination they face in Belarus, main challenges associated with their integration into society during the pandemic. It is also necessary to identify the key categories of migrants who most often face COVID-19-induced stigma and discrimination. The results are expected to be published in the first half of 2021.
The 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.
The Global IOM-UNDP Seed Funding Initiative was launched at the organizations’ HQs’ level backing October 2020. Drawing on a joint letter announcing partnership between the 2 organizations, the initiative aims to expand cooperation to overcome the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a country level. The IOM and UNDP offices in Belarus received funding to protect migrants whose vulnerability has been exasperated by the pandemic. These resources are of a strategic character, i.e. released to help mobilize additional funds to support the most vulnerable.