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        Mr Marín,  member of the Commission with special responsibility  for
        humanitarian aid, today signed a framework partnership contract with
        Mr James Purcell, Director-General of the International Organization
        for Migration (IOM).

        Last  year,  ECHO,  the  European  Community  Humanitarian   Office,
        together  with  the IOM, carried out a special  ECU 700 000  medical
        programme  in the former Yugoslavia. Working with the  International
        Committee  of the Red Cross and the UNHCR, the IOM arranged for  the
        sick  and  wounded  to be transferred  to  host  countries  offering
        suitable treatment.

        After  signing, both men said the contract showed how already  close
        links between the European Union and the IOM were being consolidated
        further.

        The framework partnership contracts

        One  of the Commission's main aims when setting up ECHO was to  make
        humanitarian  action  more  effective  and  provide  a   much-needed
        framework  for  relations with NGOs  and  specialized  international
        organizations.

        As  a result, the Commission adopted a model  framework  partnership
        contract  on  5  May last year to speed  up  and  simplify  approval
        procedures. This has been a success, removing as it does the need to
        negotiate  the  terms for each individual project  and  paring  down
        contracts  to  operational specifics  (amount,  location,  duration,
        etc.).

        It  therefore  meets the frequently expressed  wishes  of  long-time
        partners  and  provides  clear ground rules for  the  Commission  to
        structure  and formalize its relations with NGOs  and  international
        organizations involved in providing humanitarian aid.

        The  contracts  came  into use last September. About  80  have  been
        signed  so far, as have the first 360 operations contracts based  on
        them.

        The International Organization for Migration

        With  more than 90 member countries and observers, the IOM  has  for
        the  past forty or so years been working with the UN and the  EC  to
        define and implement policies on international migration.

        Over  five  million people have directly benefited  from  the  IOM's
        services in both their home and host countries.

        The IOM helps the democratization process in countries emerging from
        political upheaval (it has had a hand in readying Cambodia and South
        Africa  for  elections, set up and run transit camps  for  displaced
        people within Zaire, and helped demobilize soldiers in  Mozambique).
        It  has  also assisted economic development by trying  to  stem  the
        brain   drain  from  certain  countries  or  train  specialists   in
        harmonized  migration  policies and  migration  pressures:  examples
        include the economic development programmes in Latin America and the
        Middle  East,  and  the  programme  to  repatriate  skilled  African
        nationals carried out together with the European Commission.

        Such assistance comes on top of the IOM's traditional emergency  aid
        activities,   which  it  carries  out  in  close  conjunction   with
        specialized  UN  agencies (the UNHCR, the WHO,  the  UN  Development
        Programme, UNICEF and the FAO) and other international organizations
        such as the International Committee of the Red Cross.

        It also intervenes on behalf of people denied asylum and  threatened
        with  repatriation  by western governments.  Through  its  voluntary
        return  programmes,  it tries to prevent forced expulsion  and  thus
        preserve the dignity and safety of those involved.

        In  October  1992,  the  IOM was  recognized  by  the  international
        community  when  it  was given observer status  at  the  UN  General
        Assembly.

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