In the front line of the migration crisis

Lado Gvilava
Lado Gvilava

Institutional Communication Service

18 June 2015

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is a leading inter-governmental organization dedicated to migration issues. It was established in 1951 and is based in Geneva. Lado Gvilava is a senior manager at IOM who last year graduated from the Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian Logistics and Management (MASHLM). Lado comes from Georgia and has extensive experience in the field of migration. Lado shared with us his views on the current situation.


Lado, you are accustomed to working in crisis zones.

I am currently head of the IOM in Erbil, a regional hub in the Kurdish region of Iraq. I am in charge of IOM operations in six governorates in northern Iraq, including Ninawa and Salah al-Din, both controlled by ISIS, the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.


How does IOM operate?

We assist people by providing shelter, provisions, psychological and medical aid. IOM Iraq also provides to all humanitarian agents in the field (and those not in the field as well) the latest data on displacement and evacuation situations, with the so-called Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM). We also engage in reintegration activities, such as employment counselling, training people to help them make their professional skills more marketable, and providing assistance to support individuals to create and manage small enterprises. We also distribute survival kits to help families cope with the emergency.


What is the situation in the field, in Iraq?

The migration crisis in Iraq is currently the largest, most protracted and most complicated one in the world. According to the latest data available by IOM, since the ISIS attack on Anbar in January 2014 there have been over 3 million displaced individuals in Iraq. These people need assistance to survive. We had a large number of displacements, even before the Anbar crisis, including 250.000 Syrian refugees harboured mainly in the Kurdish regions of Iraq. According to the international humanitarian operations plan, over 8 million people in Iraq require life-saving assistance. If something doesn’t change soon, these people will begin moving towards the EU, the US, Canada or Australia, or any other country where the rights of migrants are guaranteed.


This is already happening in the Mediterranean. What can we do?

In the Mediterranean, people are dying every day to escape the poor conditions in which they live. IOM is convinced that properly coordinated migration can have a positive impact on migrants and on the communities that harbour them. We know that legal migration has a positive impact on society and migrants, whereas illegal migration can lead to hatred and xenophobia. According to IOM Director General, William Lacy Swing, nowadays we are faced with unprecedented mobility, which is also associated with an anti-immigration sentiment. For this reason, we need to promote the positive aspects of migration and provide legal routes to migrants. The best way to fight illegal migration is to invest resources in the countries of origin, providing a basis for safety, health, education and employment, and ensure that people are not pushed to sacrifice their lives to leave their homes.


Despite all the hard work, you decided to continue the USI Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian Logistics and Management.

My colleagues and I believe every senior manager at our organisation should enhance their knowledge and train themselves with courses such as MASHOM, at least every five years. The quality of the training offered at USI is definitively very high. The enthusiasm and the dedication of professors Paulo Gonçalves, Olaf Janssen, Laura Black, Afreen Siddiqi, Uday Apte, and their colleagues have far exceeded all expectations. MASHOM helps making humanitarian operations more professional and enables such operations to be beneficial to more people with fewer resources.