Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa to Yemen and Southern Africa 2024

Regional Plan
Last updated: January 19 2024
Funding required
People Targeted

IOM Vision

Migration along the Eastern and Southern Routes originating in the Horn of Africa is triggered by insecurity, environmental degradation, harsh climatic conditions, public health, emergencies, socioeconomic drivers, and traditional seasonal factors. Within the broader Regional Migrant Response Plan (MRP) for the Horn of Africa to Yemen and Southern Africa inter-agency framework, IOM will contribute to the whole-of-government and whole-of-society response to address the drivers of migration and vulnerabilities of migrants travelling along both the Eastern and Southern Routes. In line with the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, the MRP’s areas of intervention encompass both life-saving humanitarian assistance and longer-term responses to achieve resilience and sustainable solutions.  

Key Operating Modalities
Participation and empowerment Integrated Programming Collaboration and partnership Localization Cash-based interventions
Cross-cutting priorities
Data and evidence Protection Mainstreaming Gender Equality Prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse Disaster Risk Climate Change Law and policy

Objective 1 - Saving lives and protecting people on the move
Saving lives and protecting people on the move

Funding required
People Targeted
Entities Targeted
International migrant, Local population / community
Primary target groups
Description of People and Entities Targeted

Beneficiaries under this objective include departing migrants, transiting migrants, stranded migrants, returnees, migrants at destination and host communities in need of life-saving assistance and tailored protection. Departing and transiting migrants face life-threatening situations, including extreme heat and rugged terrains. Lack of access to essential services poses significant threats to their safety. Furthermore, migrants with irregular status are more exposed to grave risks of violence, exploitation, and abuse. Critical protection concerns include gender-based violence, kidnapping, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, movement restrictions, detention, discrimination, and xenophobia. Migrant women and children are among the most vulnerable to these protection risks and vulnerabilities. 
The variety of return movements including voluntary, spontaneous, and non-voluntary returns call for lifesaving and protection responses for returnees. Humanitarian assistance is equally needed to support host communities interacting with migrants along the route, whose depleted resources limit their abilities to assist them. Government officials will also benefit from training and technical assistance on humanitarian assistance and protection.

Basic needs, including food and multi-purpose cash assistance

IOM provides direct humanitarian assistance to vulnerable migrants – including stranded migrants, returnees, unaccompanied and separated children, people at risk of gender-based violence and victims of human trafficking. Food and nutrition assistance will be combined with other multi-sectorial interventions to respond to beneficiaries’ basic needs. In particular, IOM will:

  • Provide multipurpose cash assistance (MPCA) to vulnerable returning migrants to enable them to purchase items to meet their basic needs such as food, clothes, shoes and hygiene items, as well as services upon arrival, including onward transportation to their places of origin; 
  • Ensure in-kind food and nutrition assistance at IOM’s MRCs, transit centres, support desks, and mobile patrols in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen; 
  • Distribute hot meals to Somali returnees hosted in Mogadishu prior to their return to their communities of origin to complement temporary accommodation and non-food items (NFIs) assistance offered in transit centres; 
  • Partner with the World Food Programme (WFP) for the distribution of food vouchers at IOM support desks in Djibouti. 
Funding required
Plan types

Direct health support

Health support will be ensured through the procurement of medical supplies and the provision of primary and secondary healthcare as follows: 

  • Provide primary healthcare assistance in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania, Somalia and Yemen to respond to the medical needs of vulnerable migrants and returnees, including those in distress, in transit and in detention, as well as survivors of gender-based violence. Assistance will include medical screenings, basic treatments, and immediate medical support. Primary health services will be provided in MRCs and transit centers, as well at IOM Assistance Points and through Migration Response Points and mobile patrols.
  • Provide secondary healthcare, including referral of cases in need of specialized assistance. In particular:
    • In Somalia, provide medium-term medical support at transit and exit points and will refer migrants in need of specialized care; 
    • In Ethiopia, process referrals for secondary healthcare for returnees at IOM assistance points;
    • In the United Republic of Tanzania, provide migrants in transit or in detention services with comprehensive medical assistance from local medical facilities;
    • In Djibouti, facilitate the referral of migrants to secondary health services through its transit centres.
    • In Yemen, secondary healthcare is in line with the Yemen Minimum Service Package (MSP) guidelines, including essential trauma care, reproductive health, vaccination, screening and referrals to secondary health facilities for emergency support as needed, and also includes mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS). 
Funding required
Plan types

Mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian response

Migrants travelling along the Eastern and Southern Routes frequently experience trauma, stress, and mental health issues due to the hardships they face during their outbound and return journeys, including violence and gender-based violence, loss of loved ones, and uncertainty about their future. 
In line with the IOM Manual on Community-Based Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Emergencies and Displacement, IOM will implement MHPSS interventions aiming at reducing psychosocial vulnerabilities and promote resilience of migrants and affected communities. Key activities include:

  • Offer access to multi-layered MHPSS assistance in Migrant Resource Centres, transit centres, support desks and other IOM facilities; 
  • Train all actors interacting with vulnerable populations in core MHPSS concepts and skills including communication skills and taking a psychosocially informed approach;
  • Provide psychological first aid (PFA), and focused support such as counselling and support groups to migrants in distress; 
  • Establishing peer support (e.g. buddy-to-buddy) systems leveraging well-integrated returnees in hotspots of return to support incoming returnees;
  • Implement psychoeducation and community support activities that will contribute to the overall improvement of migrants’ mental health and psychosocial wellbeing. Activities will include socio-relational, recreational, cultural and non-formal education activities, for migrants to strengthen their social connectedness, social functioning, coping strategies and stress management techniques;
  • Enable access to specialized mental health care services through direct service provision or referral to psychotherapy and psychiatric consultations to migrants with severe mental health problems including for victims of trafficking;
  • Train relevant stakeholders to strengthen their capacities to provide multi-layered MHPSS assistance.
Funding required
Plan types

Movement assistance

To respond to the vulnerabilities generated by the complex movement dynamics across the Eastern and the Southern Routes, IOM will implement the following operations:

  • Voluntary humanitarian return (VHR) to Ethiopia and Somalia from Yemen: Humanitarian evacuation assistance constitutes an immediate life-saving option for stranded migrants unable to return to their country of origin. Assistance provided will include outreach, counselling, vulnerability screening, protection assessments, family tracing for unaccompanied and separated children, consular services, fit-to-travel medical screening, pre-departure assistance, movement assistance, logistics support and post-arrival assistance. 
  • Onward transportation assistance (OTA) to returnees: In Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, IOM will support returning migrants in distress with onward transportation support to their communities of origin. When necessary, OTA will be complemented with medical care, temporary shelter, and food assistance.
Funding required
Plan types


Under its 2024 MRP protection portfolio, IOM will:

  • Provide general protection services for migrants along the Eastern and Southern Routes through:
    • The establishment of a regional emergency fund for protection assistance for vulnerable migrants in countries of origin, transit and destination;
    • Protection risks assessments and provision of direct and lifesaving assistance at (MRCs), transit centres, support desks and through mobile teams;
    • Protection monitoring visits in remote locations along the routes in detention centres;
    • Referral of migrants to specialized protection services offered by MRC partners. 
  • Ensure migrants’ access to specialized protection services, including:
    • Child protection services such as family tracing, family reunification, access to education, referral of unaccompanied and separated children and assistance to migrant children in detention;
    • Protection services to victims of trafficking and other at-risk groups; 
    • Specialized assistance on GBV response, including awareness activities for women migrant workers;
    • Specialized services to migrant victims of human rights violations.
  • Enhance government and frontline actors’ capacities on counter-trafficking, counter-smuggling, case management, referral mechanisms, integrated border governance, child protection, GBV, and identification of special needs.
  • Promote community-based protection initiatives, including peer counselling and information-sharing; 
  • Strengthen stakeholders' expertise on migrant deaths and missing migrants management.
Funding required
Plan types

Provision of water, sanitation and hygiene in emergencies

Access to water, basic sanitation, and minimum hygiene conditions at border points, MRCs, transit centres and other facilities are among the most crucial needs of migrants in transit along the Eastern and Southern Routes.
Through its WASH interventions, IOM will assist both migrants and host communities with WASH services and infrastructures that meet minimum standards. In particular:

  • IOM Djibouti will renovate water infrastructures in key migration hotspot areas to alleviate social tensions over shared resources and avoid health issues;
  • WASH interventions will be designed in an age and gender-sensitive manner and will foresee menstrual hygiene management (MHM) activities, including the distribution of sanitary dignity kits for migrant women and girls.
Funding required
Plan types

Shelter and settlements

Migrants on the move are exposed to extreme weather, overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in detention centres, makeshift shelters and spontaneous settlements. Access to safe and adequate shelter to protect them from the elements and provision of non-food items (NFIs) is essential to ensure them dignified living conditions. In the framework of its humanitarian route-based response, IOM will: 

  • Offer shelter services to migrants at key entrance and departure points along the Eastern and Southern Routes in MRCs, transit centres, shelters, and other facilities. Special focus will be granted to unaccompanied and separated children, women, and girls;
  • Equip and refurbish existing shelter facilities, in line with international minimum standards;
  • Provide temporary shelter and NFIs for returning distressed migrants in countries of origin; 
  • Distribute basic NFIs kits to both transiting and returning migrants in MRCs, transit centres, and transit locations. In Djibouti, NFI distribution will be extended to vulnerable host communities in selected areas;
  • Undertake quarterly visits to detention centres to provide NFIs to the vulnerable migrants in detention in the United Republic of Tanzania. In coordination with government counterparts, IOM will identify dignified accommodation centres to avoid detention of vulnerable migrants, notably unaccompanied and separated children.
Funding required
Plan types

Humanitarian border management and services for citizens abroad

Through its humanitarian border management (HBM) activities, IOM provides capacity-building assistance to Member State Governments wishing to establish adequate response mechanisms to protect nationals and foreigners crossing the border while ensuring border security. Under its HBM portfolio, IOM will: 

  • Carry out capacity-building activities to support border and migration management processes for Integrated Border Management Committees (IBMCs) in Somalia;
  • Train border officials on humanitarian border management and humanitarian assistance; 
  • Pilot a border pass system at Bole International airport in Ethiopia; 
  • Provide technical assistance to improve border and migration management processes in Djibouti by:
    • Supporting the creation of an e-visa system for passengers;
    • Reinforcing travel identification management capacities (Advance Passenger Information - API);
    • Strengthening the application of the Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) border management information system.
  • Support the government of Djibouti in setting up a regularization system for migrants in the country. 
Funding required
Plan types

Displacement tracking

IOM will conduct displacement tracking activities to collect and analyse data on the mobility patterns, profiles, vulnerabilities and needs of migrants. As quantitative and qualitative information remains scarce, this component is crucial to generate evidence to inform the provision of tailored assistance to vulnerable migrants and host communities. In particular, IOM will:

  • Strengthen its regional DTM Flow Monitoring network in the Horn of Africa to systematically monitor population movements, analyse trends and disseminate information through the publication of regional and country reports; 
  • Conduct flow monitoring across borders in key transit locations in Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya and Yemen, including entry and exit points, recording arrivals as well as qualitative data collection through its Flow Monitoring Survey (FMS);
  • Produce Flow Monitoring Registry (FMR) dashboards based on the information on the volume and profile of migrants of populations transiting at high mobility Flow Monitoring Points (FMPs);
  • Conduct joint needs assessments in countries along the Eastern and Southern Routes; monitoring missing and deceased migrants at FMPs in East and Horn of Africa and enhancing collaboration and capacity for missing migrant Data management; 
  • Conduct a DTM Village Assessment Survey (VAS) in Ethiopia focusing on returnees, including mapping of infrastructure and services, an assessment of the socioeconomic status of returnees and of the villages' absorption capacity;
  • Conduct a Participatory Migrant Mapping (PMM) in strategic locations in Yemen (common transit points) to gather information on migrant profiles, migration routes and vulnerabilities to better understand migration to, from and within Yemen as well as to identify potential new FMPs in the context of FMR and the upcoming FMS tool.
Funding required
Plan types

Support services for response actors

Support services to response actors will include:  

  • Mechanisms to provide a coordinated response along the Eastern and Southern Routes, including MRP partners coordination and support to the Mixed Migration Task Forces.  
  • Cross-border cooperation and technical assistance to bilateral and inter-state dialogues, including the RMFM and a regional dialogue on the Southern Route. 
  • Support to government-led initiatives for the establishment of national strategies on migration and referral mechanisms. 
  • Capacity strengthening for Government institutions, including workshops and trainings on lifesaving assistance, referrals, migration, migration governance, environment and climate change and international migration law.   
  • Provision of equipment and infrastructure to government entities, including assistance for the rehabilitation of border management posts in Ethiopia, Somalia and the United Republic of Tanzania.   
  • Strengthening private sector engagement on safe migration through the establishment of ethical recruitment systems in Somalia and Kenya  
  • Route-based research on migration dynamics including the impact of the Sudan conflict, protection, trafficking and smuggling, the climate-migration-security nexus and network migration.  
  • Border assessments to produce a complete overview of the migration and border management structure, allowing for proper identification of development needs and requirements in Yemen. 
  • Communications products published to highlight the key needs of migrants and host communities along the Eastern and Southern Routes, including resource mobilization-focused products. 
  • Cross-border protection coordination mechanisms and strengthening state protection capacity, coordination of the Migrant Protection Working Group and child protection assessment in Ethiopia and Djibouti.  
  • Provision of life-saving assistance and search and rescue trainings to Djiboutian border management officials.
Funding required
Plan types
Checking the level of water during Mobile Patrol Unit in the Desert near Obock.  © Eva Sibanda / IOM 2023
Checking the level of water during Mobile Patrol Unit in the Desert near Obock. © Eva Sibanda / IOM 2023

Objective 2 - Driving solutions to displacement
Driving solutions to displacement

Funding required
People Targeted
Entities Targeted
International migrant, Local population / community
Primary target groups
Description of People and Entities Targeted

Target beneficiaries within this objective include departing migrants, transiting migrants, returning migrants, migrants at destination and host communities in countries comprising the Eastern and Southern Routes. In particular, the response will target at-risk and vulnerable groups through inclusive, resilience-based strategies at the individual and community-based levels.

Departing and transiting migrants originate from Ethiopia and Somalia, leaving their country of origin primarily for economic reasons, followed by environmental shocks and conflict. Returning migrants often arrive in their countries and communities of origin in a vulnerable state, facing stigmatization and struggling to reintegrate sustainably. The likelihood of re-migration remains high, especially when a return to conflict-affected regions is not possible. Host communities’ precarious socio-economic conditions due to protracted periods of drought and other climate-related events are further exacerbated by displacement dynamics, as the scarcity of resources leads more individuals to migrate irregularly.

Relevant governments and local partners working on the inclusion of migrants in national policies and participating in initiatives to improve socioeconomic outcomes for migrants and communities of origin, transit, and destination will also be targeted under Objective 2.

Community stabilization

Community stabilization initiatives along the Eastern and Southern Routes will focus on:

  • Strengthen social cohesion between migrants, community of return and host communities. In Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia, special attention will be given to activities that foster resilience against environmental degradation and climate change, including community agriculture, plastic recycling, and irrigation schemes; 
  • Provide reintegration support to address the economic, social, and psychosocial dimension of return while mitigating tensions between returnees and community members. Depending on the context and specific vulnerabilities, community-based reintegration (CBR), cash for reintegration or tailored individual reintegration support may be offered to returnees, including victims of trafficking;
  • Support income-generating activities and strengthen employability opportunities of migrants and receiving communities’ members. IOM Kenya will implement financial literacy trainings and community restoration projects offering employment opportunities for the most vulnerable, while partnering with small business enterprises to provide mentorship opportunities for returnees;
  • Conduct awareness-raising campaigns and community sensitization initiatives about the risks of irregular migration, legal pathways, and available services to support migrants and potential migrants in making informed decisions. 
  • Provide rapid stabilization support and access to justice initiatives aimed at re-building the social contract between Somali citizens and state institutions, thus facilitating longer-term interventions.
Funding required
Plan types
Operational presence in

Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen, Kenya, United Republic of Tanzania

The map used here is for illustration purposes only. Names and boundaries do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by IOM.

Figures are as of 31 December 2023. For more details of IOM's operational capacity in country, please see the IOM Capacity section.