Vienna/Geneva, 5 December 2011 – Austria’s permanent representative at the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Christian Strohal, was elected President of the Council of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) today (5 Dec.). “I am happy that Ambassador Christian Strohal is to hold this important post in the leading international organisation dealing in matters of migration for one year. His appointment is a visible sign of Austria’s commitment to international affairs“, Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said.
Ambassador Strohal takes on the position at a time that is highly important for the IOM. This year, the organisation celebrates its 60th anniversary, and on the occasion of the 100th Session of the Council from December 5 to 7, it will present its position and working agenda for the next few years under the chairmanship of Ambassador Strohal. Political representatives from numerous member states are attending the 100th Session of the Council. Austria is represented by the Secretary General in the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Johannes Kyrle.
The International Organisation for Migration has more than 140 member countries and employs some 8000 people. In addition to its headquarters in Geneva, the organisation maintains a network of eight regional and more than 400 country offices spanning the globe. The IOM cooperates closely with governments, regional partners, such as the European Commission, and non-governmental organisations. The organisation’s main tasks are the facilitation of proper and humane handling of migration as well as humanitarian aid for migrants in need. During the Libya crisis, the IOM evacuated more than 100,000 citizens of third states. Austria supported this operation, one of the biggest in the history of IOM, with financial funds from the Foreign Disaster Funds.
Austria and IOM have cooperated closely for decades. Austria was one of the first members to join the organisation in 1952. In the same year, one of the first country offices was opened in Vienna, an office that played an important role in handling the influx of refugees in particular during the Hungarian Crisis, the Prague Spring and the collapse of former Yugoslavia. The IMO and Austria cooperate very closely in the fight against human trafficking and in the field of the voluntary return of refugees. One of eight IOM regional offices was opened in Vienna in July 2011. The office is in charge of East and Southern Europe and Central Asia and underlines the importance of Vienna as a venue for international organisations.
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