Common Ground needed on Clear, Equitable Pandemic Travel Measures

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Health teams in Spin Boldak on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border screen all new arrivals for COVID-19 and Tuberculosis, and administer medical check-ups, measles vaccines and other basic health services.
Health teams in Spin Boldak on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border screen all new arrivals for COVID-19 and Tuberculosis, and administer medical check-ups, measles vaccines and other basic health services.

Two years after the global pandemic brought cross-border mobility to a stand-still, it is time for the international community to agree on pandemic travel measures that are clear, equitable, streamlined and future-focused.

A side-event today coordinated by the International Organization for Migration and the Migration Policy Institute in partnership with the World Health Organization, governmental and non-governmental partners as part of the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) heard that a course must be charted that balances health security with predictable cross-border mobility.

Despite dramatically different contexts for migration and mobility, participants agreed that there is a need to harmonize approaches, as well as build out the digital and physical infrastructure of border management and invest in capacity-building.

IOM Director General António Vitorino, MPI President Andrew Selee, and several participants voiced their support for the creation of a Member State-led Group of Friends to discuss cross-border mobility and pandemic preparedness, to complement and support the ongoing review of the International Health Regulations, and Member State negotiations towards a new pandemic treaty.

“Without this common endeavour, there is an increasing risk that future migration will become even more fragmented, accentuating the already evident signs of a two-speed recovery from COVID-19 that leaves less developed countries behind,” said DG Vitorino.

“This, in turn, will stall future economic and social development that could otherwise be accelerated through well-managed migration.”

“While there is an overall trend towards re-opening for travel, this process continues to be highly uneven, unequal, and uncoordinated,” said President Selee. “We lack common standards for requirements like testing, common tools to prove vaccination status across borders, and a common understanding of what works to manage public health risks at the border.”

This side-event took place on the margins of the IMRF, held under the auspices of the General Assembly at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York. The IMRF is taking stock of progress towards implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), supported by the UN Network on Migration, of which IOM is the Coordinator.

Maintaining predictable and safe cross-border mobility, and ensuring pandemic preparedness, is core to the successful implementation of the GCM objectives, as expressed in the Secretary General’s Second Report on the GCM.

About the International Organization for Migration

Established in 1951, IOM is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. With 174 member states, a further eight states holding observer status and offices in over 100 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.

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