News from and about Ukraine & Ukrainians: Ukrainian Community Press Releases
BRAMA, January 30, 2002, 1 am ET
IOM paid almost 10 percent of presumably eligible claims
GENEVA, 30 January 2002 Upon the expiration of the filing deadline the International Organization for Migration (IOM), one of the partner organizations of the German Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future", had received 320,000 completed claims: 306,000 for slave and forced labour and for personal injury (that is four times the initial estimate) and 14,000 for property loss in the framework of the German Forced Labour Compensation Programme (GFLCP). By the end of January 2002, IOM has made first installment payments to 6,070 former slave and forced labourers. "Though we are not yet out of the woods, this means that roughly ten percent of our presumably eligible claimants have received a first payment", Dirk De Winter, the Director of the German Forced Labour Compensation Programme, points out. "Indeed, based on current projections, less than one third of the claims IOM has received will be compensable under the German Foundation Act."
The high number of claims is a result of IOM's global information and outreach campaign mainly carried out by IOM field offices worldwide. It however has to be taken into account that this figure includes an extremely high number of ineligible claims, for example more than 100,000 from Italian Military Internees (IMI) and approximately 40,000 from Western European victims. In August 2001 the German Government adopted the position that former IMIs are not eligible due to their status as prisoners of war unless they were detained in a concentration camp. Also in August 2001, the German Foundation clarified that claimants from Western European countries will not receive payment unless they were detained in a concentration camp or were deported and imprisoned elsewhere.
IOM's experience thus far has also confirmed that more than 50 years after the end of World War II, the majority of the claimants is not able to provide documents or other evidence. With own scientific research for example with respect to Yugoslavia and other countries, IOM tries to fill gaps in historical research and help whole groups of victims to obtain supporting evidence and receive a compensation payment. Each additional step to provide proof adds however to the processing time for those claims.
"As a rule we give priority to processing claims of victims themselves, rather than those of heirs, because we are very concerned that many of the elderly claimants will not receive this humanitarian gesture while they are still alive," Dirk De Winter emphasizes. In addition to requesting searches by ITS and other archives, IOM cooperates with victims' associations, ethnic organizations and other partners, and consults with the German Foundation, to try to efficiently bridge the evidence gap and settle the often deficient claims as quickly as possible.
In line with the important shift of emphasis since the expiration of the filing deadline, from outreach and claimant assistance to claims processing and payments, IOM is gradually closing down its direct hotline and claimant assistance services in field offices around the world. All potential claimants who have contacted IOM before 31 December 2001 will receive a claim form and will be able to submit their claim. Claimants who have already sent a claim are asked to be patient and to refrain from queries regarding its status, in the interest of all claimants.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is one of seven partner organisations of the German Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" who are in charge of processing claims of former slave and forced labourers and of making financial compensation available to them. The German Foundation Act, entered into force on 12 August 2000 and the German Government and the German industry provided 5 billion DEM (2.56 billion EUR) each to the fund. IOM, which was allocated 540 million DEM (276 million EUR) for such claims, is responsible to make compensation available to victims of the so-called "rest of the world, non-Jewish" group comprising non-Jewish victims living anywhere in the world except for the Czech Republic, Poland and the republics of the former Soviet Union. Under the German Foundation Act IOM has also been designated to carry out humanitarian and social programmes for Roma and Sinti.
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