IOM Today

An intergovernmental organization established in 1951, IOM is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society.

  • 162 Member States and 9 State Observers
  • 401 offices with more than 9,000 staff
  • 95% of staff members based in the Field, with a ratio of 1:8 international versus national staff
  • Key areas of migration management include migration and development, facilitating migration, regulating migration and forced migration

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IOM Thailand

Over the past few decades, Thailand has played an important role in international migration in the region as a country of origin, destination and transit. Thailand has been successful in promoting and deploying large numbers of workers to work abroad. Thailand has hosted hundreds of thousands of nationals from neighbouring countries, who have fled their homelands due to war, internal conflict or national instability. Because of its relatively prosperous and stable economy, it has also attracted millions of migrants from neighbouring countries looking for a better standard of living.

Since 1975, IOM Thailand has been assisting migrants, refugees, and the Royal Thai Government in various fields including facilitating the resettlement of refugees out of Thailand, promoting the rights of migrants, improving migrants’ access to healthcare systems, assisting the victims of trafficking in return and reintegration, and assisting the Royal Thai Government in developing policies on migration.

Presently IOM Thailand is active in 17 provinces, including Bangkok, Chantaburi, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi, Mae Hong Son, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Khai, Tak, Sa Kaew, Sakon Nakhon, Saraburi, Sanklaburi, Ratchaburi, Ranong, Phang Nga, Phayao, and consists of over 240 staff.

Thailand actively participates in the two-way exchange of international investment, trade and tourism. This openness to other countries has also resulted in large flows of international migration, including that of refugees, displaced persons, professional migrants and labour migrants. The key migration challenge for the government is irregular migration, including smuggling and trafficking in persons, and its impact on the labour market and public health. Access by migrants to social services has also become an increasing concern in Thailand.

In recent years the Thai authorities have taken a very proactive approach in their response to these challenges, hosting the Bangkok Declaration on Irregular Migration, among other initiatives. It draws attention to the areas of concern highlighted above and provides a platform to develop cooperation among key stakeholders, both from within the sub-region and beyond. In this context, bilateral memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with neighbouring countries have been signed in labour migration and counter-trafficking. IOM continues to strengthen its partnership with the government and the international community to meet the growing challenges of implementing the MoUs and advancing migration management in Thailand.


Thailand's position as a middle-income country, sharing four land borders with Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malayisa, presents a complex and unique set of issues and challenges when speaking about migration. For example, the nature of economic development in a more globalized world has strengthened the role of international migration in the economy of Thailand. Income disparities among countries have generally widened so that there is a stronger incentive to migrate. A number of features of economic development in Thailand have stimulated international migration. Much of the manufacturing sector is financed by foreign direct investment, and those companies employ both highly skilled and low-skilled migrant workers. As both outbound and inbound international migration have increased, private recruitment and placement agencies have been established that promote and facilitate migration. The Government of Thailand has promoted the country as a destination for international tourism, medical care, secondary and tertiary education, and retirement, each of which leads to an increase in international migration.

There are more than 3.5 million persons without Thai nationality living in the country, including many long-term residents and children of migrants born in Thailand. More than 3.0 million of them are working in the country.

Thailand has been attracting low-wage workers from neighbouring countries as well from countries further away since at least the early 1990s. It initiated a policy to register workers from Myanmar in ten provinces along the border in 1992. That policy has steadily expanded in scope to include workers in low-skilled occupations from Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar in every province in Thailand. In 2010, there were one million workers from those three countries at some stage of registration and approximately 1.4 million dependents and others who were not registered.

In this context, IOM seeks to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.

About IOM

Established in 1951, IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners.

With 146 member states, a further 13 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.

IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.

The IOM Constitution recognizes the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development, as well as to the right of freedom of movement.

IOM works in the four broad areas of migration management:

  • Migration and development
  • Facilitating migration
  • Regulating migration
  • Forced migration.

IOM activities that cut across these areas include the promotion of international migration law, policy debate and guidance, protection of migrants' rights, migration health and the gender dimension of migration.