On 10 July, 2020 IOM Mission in Armenia in cooperation with and co-chairmanship by the Migration Service of Armenia, organized the 1st meeting of the Steering Committee under "Enhancing Migrants' Rights and Good Governance in Armenia and Georgia” (EMERGE) 3-year regional project, aiming at strengthening national capacities on migrants’ rights and migration governance, as well as promoting regional dialogue and cooperation in the area. The project is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The major objective the Steering Committee was to inform all relevant stakeholders on the project progress, as well as discuss further opportunities and approaches that could improve the efficiency and increase impact of the project. In addition to the Migration Service of Armenia, the Steering Committee Engaged the Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Police Passport and Visa Department.
In her opening speech Ilona Ter-Minasyan, Head of the IOM Office in Armenia, mentioned that the key of the project are migrants residing in Armenia, while, as a rule, the main focus was on Armenian emigrants. “We are currently trying to fill in this gap. In this context, lack of information on migrants living in Armenia is an issue of concern”, noted Ms. Ter-Minasyan adding that the pandemic has changed migration flows. “In the conditions when migrants face issues with access to information, employment, healthcare, social and other services this project becomes even more important”, concluded in Ms. Ter-Minasyan.
Armen Ghazaryan, head of the Migration Service emphasized the importance of introduction of Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) system in Armenia which is being developed from scratch. “Hope this will become one of our main working instruments and will ease the burden of deportation by the Police Passport and Visa Department”, mentioned Mr. Ghazaryan adding that this practice, however, was rarely applied by Armenia.
Afterwards the participants were presented with main objectives and working directions of the project, namely international consultancy to assess AVRR gaps and needs, ongoing migrant awareness raising and regional cooperation initiatives, as well as upcoming plans for the next 3 years. This was followed by a brief presentation on key findings of the Rapid Needs Assessment (RNA) on COVID19 related vulnerabilities of 3rd country migrants in Armenia that focused on identifying main migrants’ groups in Armenia and key issues and challenges faced by them in the environment of COVID19 and state of emergency.
At the end of the meeting participants agreed on regular meetings within the framework of the steering committee for further discussions and exchange of information and ideas on the project.