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Pope elected IOM leader after António Vitorino resigns

She was Portuguese deputy and now becomes the first woman to lead the International Organization for Migration.

The North American Amy Pope won this Monday the leadership of the United Nations agency for migrations (IOM) after the Portuguese António Vitorino, who was seeking re-election, withdrew.

Vitorino decided to withdraw from the elections after losing the first round of voting to American Amy Pope, advanced the France-Presse agency.

The result of the first vote, held behind closed doors, was reported by the US news agency AP, citing three diplomatic officials who asked not to be identified.

165 countries voted in the first round, so 110 votes would be needed to win: the AFP adds that, in this initial round, Pope gathered 98 votes against 67 for Vitorino.

Pope, 49, who had the backing of the United States, was assistant to Vitorino, 66, whose re-election as director general of the IOM was backed by the European Union (EU).

The IOM has 175 member countries and to win it is necessary to obtain the votes of two thirds of the countries that vote in the election.

The confrontation was considered unusual in that Pope, the IOM’s deputy director general for management and reform, sought – and succeeded – to oust its chief in a competition between two NATO allied countries.

Since it was founded 72 years ago, the IOM has had ten general directors, eight of whom are American.

Vitorino took office in 2018 after IOM member countries rejected a candidate put forward by the administration of Donald Trump.

The former President withdrew the United States from the UN’s main human rights body, avoided globalism and adopted the “America first” policy, which earned him the opposition of many countries.

The current election took place at a time when there is a large movement of migrants, who are leaving their countries due to factors such as conflicts, economic difficulties and the growing impact of climate change.

IOM has around 19,000 employees in 171 countries who provide migrants with food, water, shelter and bureaucratic assistance.

The organization is addressing mass migration crises in places as diverse as the US-Mexico border, the central Mediterranean, Bangladesh, Ukraine and Sudan.

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