Thursday, June 19, 2008

International Organization for Migration

Zeynep Darendeliler shares her experiences from Sarajevo;

I work for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. IOM is a Geneva based inter-governmental organization working to improve a host of conditions that impact or result from voluntary and involuntary migration. Therefore, its broad mandate includes refugees, internally displaced persons, labor migrants, returnees etc.

Currently, I have been assigned to one of IOM Bosnia’s ongoing projects called the NATO Trust Fund (NTF) Programme, funded by NATO Member states. Bosnia and Herzegovina is undergoing a Defense Reform process, through which it is downsizing a significant portion of its former military personnel. After the disarmament and demobilization stage, in an effort to ensure peace and stability, and foster economic recovery, the NTF Programme aims to reintegrate these discharged personnel into civilian life and the labor force. For this purpose, the NTF Programme has already assisted beneficiaries with in-kind assistance such as equipment for start-up or expansion businesses, vocational courses for employable qualifications, or machinery / livestock / seeds for agricultural ventures. At this point, the Programme is trying to find service providers, development NGOs, municipalities, cooperatives etc in order to coordinate with IOM in ensuring sustainability of these business and agricultural ventures.

For example, many discharged personnel already had skills to work as blacksmiths, tinsmiths, welders etc, and as a concrete project, IOM assisted them with equipment for metal work ateliers. These personnel now have the skills and the tools, but they still have to find markets, business partners etc to sell their products. So, IOM is trying to contract with organizations that offer business training and consulting in an effort to organize such beneficiaries into clusters, enabling them to reduce costs through group purchases, refer overflow business to each other, or achieve the scale necessary to apply as a group for large-scale jobs, particularly in the construction industry, a growing sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

My role in all this is to:
- research and identify institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina with such existing training and consulting programs;
- draft a proposal tailored to the types of services they provide and the potential cooperation between them and IOM;
- contact them with these proposals;
- if the cooperation will go forward, draft a Memorandum of Understanding defining the obligations of both sides in the cooperation;
- again, if the cooperation will forward, and the services will be partially funded by IOM, draft Terms of Reference to contract with the institutions and define the terms of the grant.

In short, the internship is a great mix of policy, real-world contact and negotiation, budgeting and funding, and legal drafting. Further, it offers an illustrative window into working for an inter-governmental organization, working at the local office of such an organization and implementing projects on the ground.

Most local IOM offices generate their own funding through project grants and, due to this, do not possess a budget to compensate interns like myself. So, my summer internship here would not have been possible without EJF funding, and I truly appreciate the value of this opportunity as I plan to work in the areas of migration and development, preferably at such a local office, upon graduation.

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