Myth number 2: The IOM is a humanitarian organisation

IOM Myths Busted

  • Myth number 2: The IOM is a humanitarian organisation

False. Although the IOM work in many ’emergency relief’ situations, their projects are often of questionable humanitarian value. For example, after the Haiti earthquake, the UK Department for International Development (DfID) funded IOM £595,000 to rebuild 2 prisons on the island: Arcahaie, an adult prison, and Delmas 33, Haiti’s only juvenile detention facility. In DfID’s internal review of their emergency response to the Haiti earthquake, prison reconstruction was listed as one of five main targets. This was in a context where 230,000 were reported to have died in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, 300,000 more were injured and over a million had been displaced.

Sign shows British Government paid IOM to rebuild L’Arcahaie prison in Haiti

This example suggests western governments hire the IOM to implement controversial projects in the global south which few other NGO’s would consider, while maintaining a veneer of international humanitarianism.


Paul Biddle's blog, UK advisor on prison building

BBC article on DfID funding prison rebuilding in Haiti

Stabilisation Unit 6 month report on Haiti 

DfID 6 month report on Haiti

DfID Response to Haiti Earthquake: January 2010, online interactive breakdown 

DfID review document

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