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19 January 2021

IOM, UNDP join efforts to support migrants in Belarus

MINSK, 19 January (BelTA) – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) are teaming up to support migrants in Belarus amid the COVID-19 pandemic, BelTA learned from the UNDP office in Belarus.
The partnership aims to counter the stigma and discrimination that migrants may face in the context of COVID-19 through information work and programs with concrete measures for better integration of migrants into society and, as a result, promotion of sustainable development.
In Belarus, this is the first partnership of its kind between two UN agencies in the area of migration and sustainable development. At the global level, however, the leaders of the two organizations, IOM Director General Antonio Vitorino and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, announced earlier this year their intention to join forces on migration and development. The UNDP has recently released its new report “Human Mobility, Shared Opportunities” which proposes solutions to maximize the contribution of migrants to our societies, measures to make human mobility inclusive and safe. Many countries, including Belarus, have already sent their first progress reports on the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration.
“Our organizations believe that migration affects sustainable development in countries of origin, transit and destination. This is reflected in our strategic documents at both the global and country levels. Today we are glad to start cooperation with IOM in Belarus and address migration and sustainable development in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had an unprecedented impact on mobility and has had serious social and economic consequences,” said UNDP Resident Representative Alexandra Solovieva.
“During the pandemic, migrants are increasingly faced with cases of stigmatization. Unfortunately, due to their migrant status, they are often blamed for spreading the virus and infecting the population. Incorrect coverage of such topics in the media only exacerbates discrimination against foreign nationals. In the short and medium term, stigma and discrimination against migrants have a negative impact on containing the epidemic and jeopardizing public health, because migrants can hide diseases and not seek medical care due to stigma. Our organizations have come together to help address this issue,” said Makhym Orazmuhamedova, the Head of IOM Office in Belarus.
The starting point of the work will be a survey conducted among foreigners working and/or studying in Belarus, and residents of the country. This is necessary to identify migrants' vulnerabilities aggravated by COVID-19, the cases of stigma and discrimination they face in Belarus, the main problems related to their integration into society during the pandemic. It is also necessary to identify key categories of migrants who most often face stigma and discrimination due to COVID-19. 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 will form the basis for subsequent joint IOM and UNDP projects to support sustainable development in Belarus.
The global IOM-UNDP funding initiative was launched at the level of the organizations' headquarters in October 2020. It aims to enhance cooperation to overcome social and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in selected countries. IOM and UNDP offices in Belarus received funding to advocate on behalf of migrants stranded by the pandemic. These are resources of a strategic nature to mobilize additional funds to help vulnerable populations.