The International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) was founded in 1951, in the wake of the massive human displacement caused by the Second World War.
Initiated by the joint efforts of Pope Pius XII, Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini (Vatican Secretary for Relations with States and future Pope Paul VI) and layman James J. Norris, ICMC was precisely created to support Catholic organizations in responding to the needs of the displaced persons and refugees. Following the conflict, the efforts of Monsignor Montini and James Norris for the displaced victims of war assumed an even greater urgency with the growing exodus of refugees fleeing to the West from the Soviet bloc countries of Eastern Europe.
Shortly after its creation, the ICMC Secretariat was established in Geneva, Switzerland, with the aim of collaborating closely with the newly created United Nations bodies on migration and refugee issues. In 1952, ICMC was granted consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
In its early years, the work of ICMC focused on the administration of migrant travel loan funds. However, ICMC soon gained comprehensive expertise in assisting the migrants and increased its network of member organizations and local partners, thus becoming a worldwide movement: after only two decades since its creation, ICMC had expanded its activities in South-East Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
In 1975, James Norris – who had by then been President of ICMC for over 20 years – won the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award, the highest UNHCR recognition for “extraordinary service to the forcibly displaced”.
In 1998, ICMC initiated a close partnership with UNHCR through the ICMC-UNHCR Resettlement Deployment Scheme: a roster of skilled resettlement experts, managed by ICMC, who play a key role in identifying and assessing the eligibility for resettlement of the most vulnerable refugees. Today, the Deployment Scheme deploys more than 140 resettlement specialists and child protection experts annually to UNHCR field offices worldwide.
In recent years, ICMC’s activities have especially focused on the Syrian civil war, providing relief and assistance to thousands of refugees as well as host communities in Jordan.
Today, ICMC continues to respond to the needs of uprooted people and their communities by implementing and advocating for rights-based policies and sustainable solutions through its worldwide membership of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, and alongside governmental and non-governmental partners.
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, ICMC has affiliated entities in Brussels (ICMC Europe), Washington D.C. and Boston (ICMC Inc.), and operational offices in Greece, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Pakistan.