IOM and UNDP in Belarus Join Forces to Fight Stigma During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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IOM works to counter stigma and discrimination against migrants through research and advocacy. © IOM.

Minsk – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are partnering on a new initiative to counter stigma and discrimination faced by migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been launched in the eastern European nation of Belarus.

The partnership, made possible by the Global IOM-UNDP Seed Funding Initiative, tackles discrimination through research and advocacy, as well as joint projects to support the integration of migrants.

Both measures are seen as crucial to boost sustainable development in Belarus.

“During the pandemic, migrants experienced increased stigmatization, with false accusations that they were spreading the disease and infecting the population,” Mahym Orazmuhammedova, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Belarus, explained this week during the online launch. “Such discrimination has a negative impact on containing the epidemic and endangers the health of the population. That forces migrants to hide their disease and refrain from seeking medical assistance.”

Alexandra Solovieva, the UNDP’s Resident Representative in Belarus, noted that COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on human mobility, which has led to significant socio-economic consequences. “We are glad to start cooperation with IOM’s Mission in Belarus, and consider migration and sustainable development in the context of the pandemic,” she added.

An initial nationwide survey among foreigners and nationals will shed light on the vulnerabilities of migrants, and how they have been aggravated by COVID-19. The survey will document specific cases of stigma and discrimination migrants face.

The project stems from last year’s accord on migration and development between IOM and UNDP’s leaders, António Vitorino, IOM Director General, and Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP. A new report from UNDP –Human Mobility, Shared Opportunities– examines the contributions of migrants and the measures needed to render human mobility safer and more inclusive. Additionally, Belarus recently sent its first report on the progress towards the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM).

For more information, please contact Alena Sarkisava in IOM Minsk at +37517.2882742, Mobile +375 29 648 4827 Email:

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