IOM the Netherlands-Newsletter February 2015
At its annual New Year’s Reception in The Hague IOM informed guests about its work and established or renewed relations. The reception was well-attended by representatives from Embassies, Consulates and the Dutch government.
IOM highlighted its role in global emergency crises, focusing on vulnerable mobile popula-tions or communities requiring assistance. Zhian Sarraj, medical doctor and Nesar Ahmad Seddiqi, Orthopedic Traumatologist, briefed the audience about their work in emergency situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both doctors participate in IOM’s Temporary Return of Qualified Nationals Project. They work and live in the Netherlands but return temporarily to their countries of origin to transfer their knowledge and offer practical training on the spot. In some countries their assignment can lead to their involvement in emergency situations.
Northern Iraq, overwhelmed by internally displaced people and Afghanistan, still facing instability and security incidents, are in need of acute medical assistance. Both doctors offered their help. Dr. Sarraj worked with a team of the Kurdistan Medical Charity Foundation (KMCF) to provide medical assistance in refugee camps. Her work in northern Iraq was shown in a clip of the documentary Surprising Europe, to be shown of Dutch national tv.
Professor Seddiqi trained orthopedic surgeons of the Sardar Daud Khan and Shah Ghazi Amanullah Khan Hospitals in Kabul. Prof. Seddiqi showed the audience how he introduced new techniques to treat limb injuries as a consequence of landmines and bomb attacks, aimed at a complete reintegration in society.
Both doctors stressed the importance of their specific skills in combination with their cultural background.
With projects such as TRQN, IOM develops the potential of the diaspora for the benefit of their native country. The project aims to contribute to sustainable development and reconstruction of nine target countries.
The diaspora plays an important role in Suriname’s ambitions for further economic devel-opment, according Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Lackin. He addressed a seminar organized op 7 February in The Hague by the Government of Suriname in cooperation with IOM. The event was the launch of an appeal by Suriname to engage its worldwide diaspora community.
Minister Lackin told members of Suriname’s diaspora: “Suriname needs you to strengthen its position in the Latin American region. Agriculture, infrastructure, information technology, communications, water management and tourism are priority sectors in which we want to invest your knowledge and expertise.”
Speaking at the meeting, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing stressed that diasporas become more important with their contributions to growth in skills and knowledge, trade and investment. “In this era of unprecedented mobility, we should remove obstacles and foster fluidity between states. This encourages our transnational citizens to stay engaged in both home and host countries,” he said.
This initiative follows the completion of a Migration Profile for Suriname and will be man-aged through the establishment of a Diaspora Unit within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and support liaison staff stationed in The Hague.
A mapping exercise will be used to determine how many persons, organizations and associations constitute the diaspora worldwide and in particular in the Netherlands, France, Belgium and the Caribbean; who and where they are and what repertoire of skills they possess to develop a directory of available skills. Further information will be gathered on their expectations and interest in supporting the development of Suriname, particularly in the fishery, agriculture, technological and construction sectors.
The information gathered from the mapping and assessment will be used to develop a diaspora strategy/road map. An online database will also be established and members of the Suriname diaspora will be encouraged to register via social media.
“The diversity in all aspects of my work, I like. Every day here is different, every day I learn something new. Also, I love that I am able to take the time to listen, to advise, to reassure and not least to offer an alternative to asylum in Europe or even a new perspective on life back home. What I find challenging is that voluntary return is sometimes considered to be the lesser evil, preferred to deportation only. I sometimes wish I could do more.”
Monday morning, 9 am. With a list of names in my hand, I walk towards the waiting room just outside the IOM office in the reception and procedure center for asylum seekers in Kreuzlingen. I see some familiar faces – returnees, who I am assisting in going back home. There is Rosemary from Nigeria with whom I am discussing how to get to the Nigerian embassy in order to obtain a new travel document; Lazard from Kosovo, he comes to call his wife to consult with her on his return; Mamadou from Guinea, we talk about his reintegration project and come up with a business plan; and finally there is Fakhri, who is returning to Tunisia tomorrow and who needs counseling on his departure. The remaining names on my list belong to those who have arrived in Kreuzlingen only the past few days and who I am informing about the possibility of voluntary return right from the reception center.
The Swiss Federal Office for Migration (FOM) operates five reception centers in the country, all of them located close to Switzerland’s borders. It is here, where the asylum process in Switzerland starts.
On this typical morning, I inform on voluntary return, assist with obtaining new travel documents, organize the trip back home and provide needs-based individual counseling. Some migrants have health problems and want medical assistance, others are entitled to a reintegration project but don’t know what type of business to choose, others again don’t trust that they will get the promised financial aid and need reassurance. And then, there are those who just want to tell their story. My daily routine tasks are thus not routine at all.
Later in the day, Rosemary returns from Bern with the emergency travel certificate; Lazard comes to tell me that he does not want to return to Kosovo; through IOM Bern, I inquire about the cost of a pick-up truck in Conakry; Fakhri and I go down to the center’s “boutique” to get him a suitcase.
Return Counselor IOM Bern