International Organization for Migration
The Republic of Armenia became an IOM Member State in 1993. IOM activities in the country are grounded on a number of official documents signed with the Armenian Government, including "Cooperation Agreement on Privileges and Immunities" (1994) and "Memorandum of Understanding" (2001). As an intergovernmental organization, the IOM in Armenia works closely with the Government and implements projects prioritised by the Government and various ministries and state agencies. The IOM Mission was opened in Yerevan in 1993.
Migration Policy and Research
One of IOM’s strategic priorities in the area of migration policy is to contribute to increased dialogue between migration stakeholders at bilateral, regional and global levels. At the global level, IOM organizes the International Dialogue on Migration (IDM) and actively supports and participates in Regional Consultative Processes on Migration. In 2013 the Armenian Minister of Diaspora presented at the Diaspora Ministerial Conference in Geneva. IOM is also participating in the organization of the 2013 UN High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development.
On the policy level, since 2001 IOM has assisted and involved Armenia in the interregional migration management dialogue (the "Cluster" Process) between the sending and transitional countries of the South Caucasus, and the receiving EU Member States. A focus on the promotion of legal migration and the importance of bilateral readmission agreements was introduced into discussions. Currently IOM facilitates policy seminars on migration between Armenia and the EU, furthering dialogue between Armenia and the EU in the context of the EU-Armenia Mobility Partnership, Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements.
Upon request, IOM provides ad hoc policy advice to migration practitioners and policy makers from the Armenian Government, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, private experts and the media on diverse migration management issues. IOM also assists partner institutions and organizations in their efforts to further develop their approaches to migration issues.
The IOM assists the reforms of migration management, including introduction of the system of electronic passports and identification cards with biometric parameters. IOM has provided comments to various policy documents and draft laws. IOM has also conducted thematic needs assessments in different areas of migration, such as labour migration, biometrics, airport security, migration data, and migrants’ rights. The 2008 "Review of Migration Management" set a basis for the new wave of migration reforms in Armenia, and the interagency working group established by the Decision of the Prime Minister of Armenia to discussing its comments and suggestions suggested elevating the status of the Migration Agency to a State Migration Service with a function of developing migration policies. The 2011 “Progress Review of Migration Management in Armenia” focuses on coordination of activities of bodies with mandate in migration management.
The 2010 "Migration Data Needs Assessment Report" recommends coordinated way of collecting, exchanging and analyzing migration statistics as required by international and regional standards. IOM has supported the development of methodology to collect migration data and is sponsoring a nationwide survey on migration in 2013.
-Capacity Building: In order to respond to the country's needs to develop coherent responses to migration challenges in a changing international environment, IOM's technical co-operation also focuses on capacity building for officials dealing with migration management and working towards solutions for emerging migration issues. Since 1993 IOM is involved in capacity building for the State Migration Service, National Security Service and its Border Guards Troops, Interpol Armenia National Central Bureau, Police and its Department of Passports and Visas, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Consular Services and the Ministry of Labour and Social Issues, among others. In particular, extensive training programmes have been organized for border guards and police on issues such as legislation, human rights, the examination of identity and travel documents and fraud detection, counter-smuggling and counter-trafficking, as well as the use of border control and management technologies.
International Migration Law and Migrants’ Rights
The IOM dedicated to promoting awareness and understanding of International Migration Law (IML), the international legal framework governing migration, which covers a variety of principles and rules that together regulate the international obligations of States with regard to migrants. In 2009 IOM Armenia contributed to the “Armenia National Human Development Report on Migration and Development”. In 2010 IOM published a study on “Migration Management and Human Rights.”
In 2012-2013 IOM conducted an "Analysis of Armenian Migration Legislation and Practice as Compared to EU Standards". IOM also arranged the Armenian version of the "Migration Law Terms Glossary". The “Laws for Legal Immigration in the 27 EU Member States, a comparative study of the laws in the 27 EU member states for legal immigration including an Assessment of the Conditions and Formalities imposed by each Member State for Newcomers” has been produced in the Armenian Language.
Training programmes with components in IML have been offered to various state institutions as well as the Armenian universities (Yerevan State University and Russian – Armenian Slavonic University) introducing Master Program in Migration Studies in line with the Bologna requirements. A Migration Competence Center was established at Yerevan State University.
Armenia is involved in a regional project aiming to facilitate integration of Armenian migrants in Poland through raising their awareness on rights and obligations and undertaking activities aiming to prevent discrimination and exploitation of migrants at the Polish labour market. A hotline for migrants departing for Poland has been operational in Armenia.
IOM has been continuously providing training to border guards, police, Interpol, consular officers and others in IBM. In 2010 IOM prepared a “Training Curriculum for the Training Center of the Border Control Detachment of Border Guards Troops” (under National Security Service). The curriculum is used to conduct regular and continuous training courses to train the border guards and teach the new inductees. In 2012 IOM provided technical advice to the establishment of the institute of border plenipotentiaries in Armenia, including their standard operating procedures and a curriculum for training.
IOM also built the capacities of the Police’s Division of Combating Illegal Migration, which operates under the General Department for Combating Organized Crime, and is charged with the factions of preventing, combating, detecting illegal migration from and through Armenia.
The IOM has also supported the Government's border management reform through expansion of the Border Management Information system to all border crossing points.
IOM has also facilitated the connection of some central units at Police Headquarters and Yerevan Zvartnots Airport to the Interpol I-24/7 telecommunication database system.
The IOM has provided technical assistance to the introduction of biometric e-passports in Armenia. The “Biometrics Needs Assessment Report” prepared by OSCE and IOM provided technical guidance for to introduction of electronic Machine Readable Passport and an electronically enabled identity card. IOM has also arranged quality assurance of the new biometric documents. With IOM’s technical advice the Police prepared a number of draft laws related to introduction of biometrics. IOM provided also “Comments on the RA Draft Law on “Protection of Personal Data.”
On the policy level, IOM conducted several other important assessments, such as the Yerevan Zvartnots International Airport Aviation Security Report and the "Border Management Needs Assessment Report”. The latter addressed the shortcomings identified at the currently available border infrastructure, in order to foster and enhance effectiveness and efficiency of border controls at some Border Crossing Points in Armenia, taking into account previous and ongoing actions and support by international donors and national investments.
IOM is providing technical advice on the facilitation of foreign recruitment and circular migration as well as capacity building on labour migration. IOM's labour migration activities focus on the regulation of labour movements and programmes to assist Government and migrants in the selection, recruitment, cultural orientation, training, travel, reception, integration and return of labour migrants.
It is thanks to IOM’s work that the Government started paying attention to regulation of labour migration. IOM facilitated negotiations of bilateral labour agreements with Qatar, consideration of such cooperation with Kazakhstan, Italy and other countries.
A needs assessment of labour migration management has identified the main gaps in policy, legislation and administrative structures for both labour emigration and immigration, and resulted in policy options to regulate labour migration. As a follow up IOM has provided technical assistance to the Armenian Ministry of Labour and Social Issues in elaboration of policy and legislation to regulate the field of labour migration.
To fortify the technical assistance, a solid capacity-building component has also been fulfilled to expand the knowledge of numerous government officials involved in managing labour migration.
- Migrant Consultation
To raise the public's awareness on threats of irregular migration, as well as the benefits of legal labour migration, the IOM Mission in Armenia, together with the State Employment Service, has established a Migration Resource Centre which provides free consultations to potential migrants. IOM produced 23 country guides with information relevant for migrant workers on the following countries of destination: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Georgia, Hungary, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
IOM initiated a dialogue between the Armenian government and Armenian diaspora organizations on the diaspora’s role in labour migration management. Currently Armenia is part of a regional project facilitating temporary assignments in Armenia by qualified national residing in Europe.
Combating Trafficking in Human Beings
The IOM has been active in counter-trafficking activities in Armenia and has lobbied for the inclusion of an article criminalizing human trafficking into the Criminal Code, for ratification of the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols, and has contributed to the development of the National Plans of Action to Combat Human Trafficking.
The IOM has implemented twelve counter-trafficking projects in Armenia ranging from research and capacity building to victim assistance and public awareness. Working with its partners, the IOM offers direct assistance to victims of trafficking. Further assistance includes specialized expertise and practical skills for law enforcement agencies and Border Guard troops to help them more effectively detect, investigate and prosecute traffickers, which are in line with other efforts to combat trafficking in persons.
Through IOM's support and in the framework of the regional South Caucasus project, a trafficking course has been included into high school curricula. Teachers from all schools country-wide were trained to teach counter-trafficking and all schools received books and educational materials prepared for the course. A annual for university student has also been developed.
To ensure community support, Armenian NGOs regularly organize information dissemination campaigns which promote Counter- Trafficking education in Armenia, also by means of peer-to-peer education and extra-curricular activities.
Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration
The provision of reintegration assistance to migrants in their countries of origin is an essential element to ensure sustainability of returns. IOM and partners in countries of origin provide migrants with socio-economic support to promote their self-sufficiency and contributions to their local communities. The sustainability of returns may, however, ultimately only be ensured in tandem with socio-economic development.
IOM Armenia is involved in various AVRR regional projects organizing return of Armenian citizens from Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Slovakia, Italy, Norway, Finland, etc. The assistance provided to returnees varies broadly and ranges from return assistance, which includes pre-departure information and counselling and the organization of voluntary return, to schemes that include help with long-term reintegration and economic viability of the migrants once they are back in Armenia. In 2000 - 2011 IOM has assisted 5,647 migrants, who returned to Armenia from mostly from European states. In January 2011 – June 2013 IOM has supported 489 returnees in 307 cases (families).
IOM is developing a Reintegration referral guide with the aim of steering and improving the assistance to the returnees toward the sustainability of return in Armenia. The Guide is expected to serve as referral mechanism for all the bodies involved in reintegration of returnees in the country.
Facilitated Movements and Resettlement
-Pre-Consular Services (Canada). The Canadian Government has signed an agreement with the IOM giving an opportunity to offer pre-consular services for the citizens and residents of Armenia applying to the Embassy of Canada to Armenia (headquartered in Moscow) for non-immigrant visas. The applicants can receive assistance in applications of temporary resident visas, work and study permits which include provision of information on submission, visa fee transfers, translations and verifications of documents, filling in the applications, checking the ready kits and delivery of documents, including the passports, to the Canadian Embassy. During last two years IOM assisted more than 1400 citizens and residents of Armenia.
-Unites States Refugee Program. The objective of this programme is to process individuals, who apply for permission to resettle in the US as refugees. IOM receives and processes initial applications, and later assists with the pre-interview registration and case processing. IOM is the on-the-ground representative for ensuring the logistical and operational success of visits from US immigration officers and a local point of contact for the local US Embassy and UNHCR offices.
Migration and Health
IOM’s strategic objectives on migration health include (i) Monitoring migrant health; (ii) Enabling conducive policy and legal frameworks on migrant health; (iii) Strengthening migrant friendly health systems; and (v) Facilitation of partnerships, networks and multi-country frameworks on migrant health.
The Armenian version of the “Caring for Trafficked Persons: Guidance for Health Providers” (developed by IOM, United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Trafficking in Persons, and London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and translated by UNDP Armenia) were distributed among the Ministry of Health, hospitals, medical universities and social workers of child care institutions.
IOM currently implements a regional project which contributes to enhancing sustainable return and reintegration of migrants with a chronic medical condition residing in the EU back to their countries of origin, including Armenia. Among other things the Project includes Armenia country assessment of health related factors affecting reintegration of migrants, including gaps in health insurance for migrants in Armenia.
Emergency and Post-Emergency Operations
IOM provides emergency relief, return, reintegration, capacity-building and protection of the rights of affected populations. IOM is active in initiatives towards disaster risk reduction, disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. In Armenia IOM is part of the UN Disaster Management Team.
IOM programmes in the post-emergency phase bridge the gap between relief and development by empowering communities to assist in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of affected areas as one of the ways to prevent forced migration.
To address increasing massive migration pressure in the Southern Armenian settlements, which occurred due to the lack of potable and irrigation water in Siunik region and weakened agriculture, IOM mobilised the local community of Shvanidzor to rehabilitate and reutilise traditional underground water systems, which are called Chaheriz and have been built in Armenia since 720 BC. The water system became fully functional, making potable and irrigation water available to villagers.
IOM has also been providing socio-economic reintegration and empowerment of mine victims, persons with disabilities and members of their families in Armenia.
Migrant Integration and Migrant Training
The IOM facilitates successful integration of migrants and refugees in host societies. Migrant Integration focuses on: i) the dissemination of information on rights and obligations of migrants and refugees in home and host countries, ii) the provision of advisory services and information on services available to them, and ii) the reinforcement of their skills which enhance their prospects for quick and successful integration.
Within the framework of the "Self-reliance and Integration through Micro-enterprise Development" project implemented in Armenia since 1997, the IOM helps individuals (including returnees, refugees and displaced persons) to become self-sufficient through micro-credit schemes, including micro-enterprise training as well as credit and employment opportunities. The aim is to reduce their dependence on humanitarian aid and the levels of poverty as well as to achieve effective reintegration in society.
More than 2,400 persons have already completed training in micro-business management and business planning. So far over 9,000 loans, amounting to more than US$ 8.0 million have been extended, impacting the lives of over 4,500 direct beneficiaries, including loan recipients as well as persons employed. Over 3,100 businesses were supported, with some 25 per cent of the loans used to create production and service businesses and the balance for trade. 42 Iraqi refugees and 28 mine victims benefited from the training and MED services.
International Organization for Migration Mission in Armenia
14 Petros Adamian Street
Yerevan, 0010, Armenia
Tel.: (374 10) 58 56 92; 58 37 86
Fax: (374 10) 54 33 65