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Sierra Leone

Posted on
Capital Freetown
Population (2013): 6.1 million
Area:  71,740 km sq
Languages :  English
Currency:  Leone (SLL)
GDP per Capita PPP  (2013): USD 1,927
HDI Rank (2013): 183 of 187
Remittances (2013 estimate):  USD 61 million
Immigrants (2013):  1.6%
Women as a Percentage of Immigrants  (2013): 46.2%
Population under 15 (2013): 42%
Adult HIV Prevalence (2013):  1.55%
Sources and Definitions


The effects of the decade-long civil war, coupled with the current poor condition of public services, have had a negative impact on the Government of Sierra Leone’s capacity to ensure the effective delivery of public services. While some significant progress was noted in the implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, Sierra Leone continues to face huge challenges in reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Sierra Leone has become a country of origin and destination for trafficking in persons. In response, IOM has developed programmes to enhance government capacity and support victims of trafficking through safe return and reintegration assistance. In consultation with various stakeholders, IOM identified the need for further countertrafficking information campaigns targeting the general public.

IOM’s strategy for preventing HIV and AIDS in Sierra Leone encompasses a large spectrum of activities, from facilitated access to prevention programmes for migrants and mobile workers to the provision of information on health and social services. Psychosocial and trauma-related problems that are found among the majority of Sierra Leoneans need to be addressed.

Due to limited law-enforcement capacity, the nation's border areas are vulnerable to cross-border crimes and other security threats. The Government of Sierra Leone requested IOM to help identify measures to address irregular border crossings.

Movement, Emergency and Post-crisis Migration Management

Sierra Leone is recovering from decades of economic decline and 11 years of brutal civil conflict. In order to support the country’s peace building process, IOM proposed to implement programmes that aim to directly contribute to Sierra Leone’s post conflict stabilization. Several areas will be targeted in order to strengthen the capacity of authorities, civil society and communities to better establish and implement peace and stability measures thereby contributing to the country’s reconstruction. Also in the context of this broader stabilization plan, IOM has been involved in enhancing the capacity of the Sierra Leone’s prison service to improve the facilities, reduce congestion and make the prisons centers to reform criminals.


  • Makona River Basin Community Stabilization Programme (planned)
  • Reconstruction and Upgrade of Mafanta Prison (planned)

Migration Health

IOM is committed to the implementation of the Declaration of Commitment that was adopted at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in June 2001. IOM’s intervention aims to address the concerns raised in paragraph 50 of the Declaration which stipulates that member states should “by 2005, develop and begin to implement national, regional and international strategies that facilitate access to HIV/AIDS prevention programmes for migrants and mobile workers, including the provision of information on health and social services.” This intervention reduces the vulnerability of mobile workers to HIV/AIDS by establishing a Partnership on HIV/AIDS and Mobile workers in Sierra Leone. The project will establish a more effective and targeted response to the specific vulnerabilities of mobile workers, including the provision of information on health and social services at the three stages of mobility – area of origin, transit and destination.


  • Partnership on HIV/AIDS and mobile population in Sierra Leone (planned)

Migration and Development

Many Africans residing in Western Europe, North America and in other African countries have acquired expertise, experience and material or financial resources that they are willing to contribute for the development of their countries of origin provided they do not lose the status and/or rights they have acquired in their country of residence. The countries of origin are, on their part, anxious to take advantage of the potential represented by their Diaspora. The government of Sierra Leone realizes that its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper cannot be implemented effectively without the virtual or physical transfer of skills and resources from nationals residing in the Diaspora. The projects aim at matching the needs and available resources and organizing a number of transfers (physical or virtual) of know-how, expertise and other resources to the country of origin.


  • Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA) – Support to Sierra Leone Health Sector
  • Research and Capacity Support to Enhance the Effective Use of Remittances (planned)

Regulating Migration

Sierra Leone is a country of origin and destination for trafficking in persons. Victims are trafficked from rural areas to areas of perceived economic opportunity, for involuntary petty trading and domestic work, mining and stone crushing, agriculture and fishing, prostitution and street begging. Victims are also trafficked from Sierra Leone to neighboring countries and overseas for labour and other kinds of exploitation. Due to the existence of vast borders with limited security enforcement capacities, the national border areas are particularly vulnerable to cross-border problems, including banditry, international crimes and other security-related threats


  • Reintegration Assistance for Return Migrants from the Netherlands
  • Counter Trafficking Protection and Prevention Initiative (planned)
  • Institutional and Human Resources Technical Assistance to the Department of Immigration (planned)

Reparation Programmes

The peace agreement which ushered in the end of the civil conflict in Sierra Leone made provisions for the setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to address the root causes of the war and abuses suffered by the most affected victims. The TRC in its final report issued in 2004, among other things recommended the setting up of a reparations programme for five categories of victims who are considered as the most affected victims of the war (amputees, child victims, victims of sexual violence, war widows and severely wounded war victims).

To date this recommendation has only been partially implemented for some categories of victims. Despite the commitment of the Sierra Leone government to implement this recommendation and move ahead in the consolidation of the peace process, sufficient funds have not been raised for this programme.


  • Support to the Implementation of the Sierra Leone Reparations Programme

Last updated:
Main text: 31 March 2011
Facts and figures:
August 2014

Migration Initiatives


  • National Commission for Social Action
  • Department of Immigration
  • Office for Diaspora Affairs
  • Ministry of Health and Social Services
  • Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs
  • Makona River Organization

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