East Africa and the Horn of Africa

The East and Horn of Africa was the region with the largest increase in the number of refugees globally in 2012. As of March 2013, there were over 9 million refugees and internally displaced persons in the region. Climate change and environmental degradation, armed conflict, and political, economic and food crises continue to force people to flee, resulting in a growing need for assistance.

Armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and South Sudan forced people to leave their homes and seek protection in neighbouring countries in 2012, leading to an increase in the refugee populations of Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.

In relation to the size of their economies, Kenya and Ethiopia are respectively ranked as the second and third leading host countries in the world for refugees. At present, Kenya hosts approximately 600,000 refugees, making it the fourth largest host country in the world, with the vast majority of refugees originating from Somalia.

As the political situation in Somalia continues to improve, the repatriation of Somali refugees becomes a possibility. However, issues of safety and the dignity of refugees need to be taken into account. In accordance with international humanitarian standards, the selected areas for return need to be safe, and basic services should be available. While some possible areas have been identified, assessments still need to be conducted.

Our Strategy

In 2016 the Regional Strategy for East and Horn of Africa was developed, offering a comprehensive overview and strategic framework for IOM’s planned activities in the East and Horn of Africa in 2016-2019.

IOM’s goal in the East and Horn of Africa region is to: Contribute to effective, flexible and comprehensive migration management solutions in East and Horn of Africa, in partnership with states, regional institutions, international agencies, communities and migrants.

The rationale of the Regional Strategy is to ensure a more unified, integrated approach by IOM in pursuing its goal and strategic objectives across the region and tying these to the Organization’s global objectives. The guiding framework for this Strategy is IOM’s results-based Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF) which defines the principles and objectives underpinning the Organization’s global activities. The MIGOF principles ensure that IOM projects give primacy to international standards, particularly human rights, gender equality, protection of children and families; are based on sound research and data; promote productive policy dialogue and whole-of-government approaches; and involve the partnership of other key stakeholders such as the AU, RECs, RCPs, international organizations, civil society organizations, migrants, communities and private sector.

The MiGOF guiding principles and objectives are in accord with the regional frameworks and protocols of the AU, IGAD, EAC and other RECs and RCPs in the region. They also reflect and seek to contribute to the different migration related targets in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with a central reference to SDG Target 10.7, on “facilitating safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”.

In addition, recognising the specific context of the Great Lakes region, IOM developed asub regional strategy for the Great Lakes Region in 2017 which outlines IOM’s approach to addressing mobility-related challenges and needs of the sub-region. Building on the IOM national and regional strategies for East and Horn of Africa and Southern Africa as well as on the United Nations (UN) Great Lakes Regional Strategic Framework, this document outlines IOM’s core approaches and objectives to support comprehensive migration management.