Through its Migrant Protection and Assistance Division (MPA), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) works to realize IOM’s commitment to address the needs, as well as promote and uphold the rights of migrants. MPA supports these individuals and communities to access and exercise their rights. It also offers support to governments in carrying out their duties to respect, protect and fulfil these rights, thus contributing to managing in line with international standards and practices. 

The Division’s activities aim to reduce protection risks of individuals in vulnerable situations, and in particular those who are exposed to abuse, exploitation, violence, neglect and deliberate deprivation. It does so by addressing protection threats and vulnerabilities while increasing the capacities of individuals, their communities as well as those of their duty bearers. Working in partnership with other stakeholders, MPA responds through the following six pillars: direct assistance; training and capacity development; data, research and learning; convening and dialogue; advocacy and communications; as well as the provision of thematic guidance. 

Protection encompasses all activities aimed at obtaining full respect for the rights of the individual in accordance with the letter and spirit of the relevant bodies of law. Specifically, protection involves activities that seek to directly secure, individual or group rights, as well as activities that aim to create a society in which individual and group rights are recognized and upheld.

Assistance includes all direct support activities that target individuals and their families, their communities, as well as broader structural level interventions and support to governments as duty bearers. Individual and family assistance can include support to meet immediate, medium or long-term needs including food; shelter and accommodation; healthcare; education and training; employment and/or income generation; family assessments and reunification; counseling; referrals; safe and dignified return and/or sustainable reintegration.

Key Priorities

The objective of MPA is to contribute to promoting and upholding the rights and of migrants and their communities, including setting standards and advocacy and to manage migration in line with international legal and other internationally agreed standards and effective practices.

At the outcome level, it seeks to ensure that migrants and communities have increased capacities to access and exercise their rights, including through the fostering of an environment where individual and group rights are upheld and recognized.  In its approach, MPA recognizes that migrants, communities, and concerned States may have varying levels of capacities to withstand risks, and accordingly prioritizes its actions where such capacities may be diminished.  

MPA’s activities aim improve knowledge of and access to direct assistance and protection services. Including through the availability of products such as guidelines and standards for relevant stakeholders, particularly governments, improved capacity and skills of stakeholders in providing protection and assistance, as well as availability of user-friendly tools to carry out such activities.  

Key Global Data

Together with its partners, MPA has:

  • Helped more than 1.7 million migrants return voluntarily to their countries since 1979.
  • Helped thousands of returning migrants to reintegrate within their communities.
  • Assisted over 100,000 persons trafficked for forced labour or begging, sexual exploitation, organ removal and other purposes since the mid-1990s.