Vienna, Austria: A Study Visit to Switzerland was organised by the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) under the project “Developing the Iraqi Government’s Knowledge & Expertise in Migration Management” (Project IMED) on 14-18th March 2022. The visit was supported and facilitated by ICMPD, whereby a senior delegation from the Government of Iraq, led by the Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Migration and Displaced, travelled to Zurich, Bern and Geneva for meetings with Swiss counterparts and international organisations. The Iraqi delegation, consisting of 7 officials, was represented by 5 core ministries working on migration management in Iraq – namely the Ministries of Migration, Labour & Social Affairs, Planning, Interior and Foreign Affairs.
The primary purpose of the visit was to facilitate knowledge exchange on areas of return and reintegration, asylum procedures, refugees, border management, irregular migration and labour migration. Moreover, it provided an opportunity for the Government of Iraq to share migration-led priorities in Iraq with SEM, and understand best practices surrounding migration management governance, with a focus on conceptualising a whole-of-government approach to migration in Iraq. To this end, H.E. Ambassador Vincenzo Mascioli, Director of International Affairs at SEM, also briefed the delegation about SEM’s mandate, areas of expertise and scope of work.
In addition to bilateral meetings held between Iraq and Switzerland, other noteworthy meetings included a visit to the largest Asylum Centre in Switzerland, located in Boudry and run by SEM; a meeting with border police at the Swiss-French border; and meetings with senior representatives at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The Study Visit has paved the way for cooperation between Iraq and Switzerland to be strengthened – especially in the area of migration management. Furthermore, it provides the impetus for additional support to be carried out in the form of follow-up projects to be implemented by Swiss partners, including ICMPD.