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U.S. Makes First Contribution to New IOM Migration Emergency Fund
March 6, 2012

People lined up to board a ship
Third Country Nationals prepare to board an IOM-chartered ship, Red Star I, in Misrata on April 27, 2011. Credit: IOM / Nicole Tung

The United States government has announced a contribution of $2.5 million to the International Organization for Migration’s newly-established Migration Emergency Funding Mechanism (MEFM).  Ambassador Betty E. King, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, confirmed the voluntary contribution in a March 1, 2012 letter to Mr. William Swing, Director General of the IOM.

The $2.5 million contribution by the United States is the first to be received by the new emergency fund.  Recent major emergencies such as the evacuations from Libya, the Cote d’Ivoire and Yemen – where IOM played an essential life-saving role – have highlighted the importance of rapid response and intervention.

“These funds will help IOM to save lives and mitigate suffering by allowing it to respond rapidly in the critical, early stages of an emergency,” said Ambassador King.  “The United States supported the creation of the MEFM and is convinced that this new mechanism is an important contribution to the system of humanitarian response.  Migration crises can develop literally overnight, and in the past IOM had no option but to await financial commitments by donors. We all witnessed the essential role IOM played in Libya last year, when it helped evacuate over 230,000 people, by land and air from Sebha and by boat from Misrata.”

The new funding mechanism was established by the IOM Council in December 2011 to reinforce IOM’s operational and emergency response capacity by providing the organization with funds to bridge the gap between the period when an emergency occurs and when donor funding is received. The aim is to enable early assessment of situations on the ground and very short response times for providing the initial required assistance.

“As the first contribution to this new migrant emergency funding facility, the U.S. voluntary contribution is particularly timely,” said IOM Director General William Swing.  “We hope that this initiative will serve as an encouragement to us all to bring the facility to full capacity.”

The mechanism will be primarily used to cover the cost of international transport for migrants affected by emergencies. It will also cover any arrangements in the place of origin, departure, transit or arrival to prepare for or support their travel, including any necessary transport to the international departure point and other related out-of-pocket costs, as well as the staff and office capacity to support these activities.