International Organization for Migration

 
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Director's Letter:
Dear Delegates,

Hello, and welcome to the International Organization for Migration! My name is Allison Toledo and I am thrilled to be your Director. Over the course of the HNMUN weekend, you will be acting as member states of the IOM. You will be discussing migrant smuggling—an incredibly complex topic that involves the migrants themselves, the state, and transnational criminal networks—as well as the health and wellbeing of child migrants, particularly in crossing the border. Considering the last decade of unrest and dramatic migration, especially in the Middle East and at the U.S.-Mexico border, it is an incredibly significant time for the IOM to address migration in order to ensure that the process an be made safer, fairer, and less criminally connected.

For a little bit about myself, I am a senior at Harvard College concentrating in Social Studies. In high school in New Jersey, I was the Head Delegate for two years of my school’s small Model UN team, where I developed a passion for discussing international affairs that has carried over into my college career. At Harvard, I was most recently the Under-Secretary-General of Business for Harvard Model United Nations; a Crisis Director at Harvard National Model United Nations 2018; a Deputy Director for our competitive Model UN team, the Co-Director for the Harvard Program for International Education; and a Director at HMUN China, HNMUN-LA, and HMUN India. Aside from Model UN, I also advise freshmen and am a member of an a cappella group on campus, the Harvard LowKeys.

Migrant smuggling and child migrant health does not merely affect those crossing their borders. Both are moral issues that involve the sovereignty and safety of those within and outside of country borders. The two are also interconnected, as unsafe conditions for child migrants often force them to turn to smugglers for supposedly safe passage. Committee will move quickly, and I hope to present you with interesting challenges in the form of small crises based on the discussion. Model UN is an incredible forum for debate on pressing international issues, and I have faith that this committee will take on these challenges with confidence and innovation.

I look forward to meeting each of you and exploring these critical issues together! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email.

Sincerely,

Allison Toledo
Director, International Organization for Migration
Harvard National Model United Nations 2019

 

Topic Area A: Countering Migrant Smuggling

In 2016, over 3,740 migrant lives were lost in the Mediterranean as migrants attempted to cross borders. Every one person out of 88 who attempted the journey passed away. These numbers and this disregard for human life are unprecedented and unacceptable. Migrant smuggling has plagued our interconnected world for decades, with smugglers acting without respect to migrant human rights while reaping the profits (often for transnational crime organizations) and disregarding state sovereignty.

Migrant smuggling has increased in the world in the past decade, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. With this increase have come further violations of human rights and massive increases in spending money for transnational crime networks. Smugglers operate illegally, often as a part of these networks, and reap the benefits that then funnel back into other units of transnational crime.The increase in smuggling also presents challenges for the nation-state, as national borders are disregarded and state sovereignty is ignored.

The International Organization for Migration has been called upon to create safer processes for migrants seeking a better life, identify and prosecute smugglers, and reassure nations that their borders are being respected.  How will you balance all three of these concerns? How will you respect the rights of fleeing migrants searching for a better life while respected state sovereignty? What new processes will you create?

Topic Area B: Ensuring the Health and Wellbeing of Child Migrants

n 2018, approximately 3,000 children were separated from their families while attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border under a new, brief policy of the U.S. government. Put into separate detention facilities, the children and their families alleged in lawsuits that they were kept in unsanitary conditions, exposed to illness, and given unnecessary anti-psychotic drugs to control behavior. In northern France, migrant children seeking asylum told investigators that they had been treated brutally by authorities, and some even reported having been beaten by police. The children also spoke of how this treatment led them to turn to smugglers and traffickers for “safe” passage, at the risk of their own health.

Children are the most vulnerable population in migration. They have different health needs than adults, and these needs are usually not met when they travel alone or alongside adults. Crucial physical and emotional development takes place during childhood, and that development may be disrupted by stressful conditions such as migration, detention, and possible court proceedings. Without proper oversight, migrant children are forgotten, their health an afterthought.

The International Organization for Migration must work to address the health of migrant children at all stages of the process, paying particular attention to conditions during migration and in possible detention camps. How can the health of child migrants be ensured in stressful conditions? What processes can be created to ensure that each age group receives proper care, from newborns to teenagers? How can countries and international organizations navigate language and education barriers?


 

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