U.N. MIGRATION BODY MOVES HQ TO MANILA  

Manila, March 14, 2003 -- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is moving its headquarters from Geneva in Switzerland to Manila.

The IOM, a United Nations organization, signed a cooperation agreement with the Philippine government on Thursday for the expansion of the IOM office in Manila.

Bruce Reed, IOM regional representative and director for administration in Manila, told reporters that IOM has started moving to the Philippines seven months ago.

The primary reason for the move, he said, is the high cost of maintaining an office in Geneva.

Reed said IOM chose the Philippines because of the availability of well-educated and English-speaking staff. That the Philippines is an original member of the organization also helped in the choice, he said.

The IOM official said its permanent presence in the Philippines only institutionalizes its presence here.

The agreement, he said, is a positive step toward enhancing its operations in Cambodia, Vietnam, and several other Asian countries.

Reed said IOM will assist displaced migrants in the Middle East once conflict erupts. "We have people in the Middle East who will assist in the repatriation [of those who would wish to return to their countries]. We have offices in Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey, and Cyprus, where the United Nations has a headquarters," Reed said.

Earlier, the Philippine government said it will tap the IOM for the funding of the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East should a massive repatriation of OFWs occur.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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